Certain majors allow undergraduate students to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in five years.
The Accelerated Master’s Program allows students in these majors to “double count” some courses toward an undergraduate and graduate degree if the classes are taken at the graduate level, according to Dianne Horgan, the associate dean at the Graduate College. Horgan said this is a “great way” for students to leave the UA with a master’s degree, instead of double or triple majoring.
“The program allows for much better credentials than a double major,” she said.
Although each department decides on requirements for its individual Accelerated Master’s Program, general admission requirements include a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.3 on a minimum of 12 UA undergraduate units. In addition, applicants must have earned at least 12 undergraduate credits in the major at the UA and completed a minimum of 75 undergraduate credit hours. A minimum of 90 credit hours will be required at the time of entry into the student’s Accelerated Master’s Program.
Rachel Stringer, a senior studying French, decided to pursue her accelerated master’s degree when one of her professors recommended her for the program and she learned she could earn both her undergraduate and graduate degree in five years.
“Taking graduate level coursework this year is so exciting,” she said. “It’s also nice to have a plan presented to me.”
Stringer said the two graduate courses she is currently in require double the amount of reading as her undergraduate courses, but she loves the courses and finds them “really interesting.”
“In undergrad, you’re spoon-fed a little bit more,” she said. “People pretend to understand more than they do. The people in my graduate level classes are more secure in saying they don’t understand something, and it’s a more productive learning environment.”
Stringer said she plans to apply for the Presidential Management Fellows Program and work for the state department, as well as work abroad in a French-speaking country once she receives her degrees.
According to Horgan, the Accelerated Master’s Program was set up in 2006 when the Graduate College, provost, Faculty Senate and Graduate and Professional Student Council approved the structure of the program, and a few new degrees have been added each year since then. Departments decide if they want to have an Accelerated Master’s Program, and any department can apply to have one.
“It depends on the kind of program and what their students need,” Horgan added.
Melissa Guz, a journalism senior in the Accelerated Master’s Program, said she was interested in the program because she was unsure what type of journalism she wanted to pursue after graduation.
“I wanted to find an area I could specify in, and I felt like a master’s and an extra year in school could help me decide,” Guz said.
Guz said she would recommend the program to other journalism majors because students can graduate with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, and because they can take graduate classes at the undergraduate cost.
“Financial issues were also a concern for me,” Guz added. She now plans to pursue broadcast journalism with her degree.