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Accelerated Masters Program allows UA students to finish grad school sooner

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Daniyal Arshad | The Daily Wildcat

A view of Old Main. The Accelerated Master's Program at UA allows students to take graduate level classes during their senior year as an undergrad.

With priority registration quickly approaching, students are thinking about their plans for next year. Many current juniors have the opportunity to apply for Accelerated Master’s Programs, which allows them to earn a master’s degree in just one extra year.

Across UA there are 47 AMP opportunities in a wide range of majors. To complete these programs, students take graduate level classes during their senior year of undergraduate studies and then one year of graduate school at UA to earn a combination of bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a total of five years.

Sydney Donaldson, undergraduate advisor for Electrical and Computer Engineering, explained some of the benefits of the AMP.

“You can complete 40 percent of your master's degree as an undergrad in this program,” Donaldson said. “It's a really great value, and a great way to get ahead.”

Master’s programs at the UA require 30 units, and AMPs are no different. The major bonus, however, is the ability to complete 12 of those units during senior year of undergraduate.

“There is this magical thing that the graduate college has done,” explained Tenney Nathanson, Director of Graduate Studies for the English department, “where you can double dip the 12 credits.”

These means that the credits can be fulfilled by advanced electives or graduate sections of regular undergraduate level classes. It is this double dipping that affords the program to be completed in such a condensed amount of time.

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A regular ECE master’s program can take between one and a half to two additional years, and a regular master’s in English about two and a half years. Accelerated programs cut down on time significantly.

Genny Messina, a biomedical engineering senior, followed her sister’s footsteps and decided to do the AMP.

“I have a scholarship for undergrad so it allows me to do the first year with that, and then only have to pay for one year of tuition, so that's a big benefit for me,” Messina said. “Also, just having one more year will allow me to go into the industry faster which is my end goal.”

When entering a specific industry, such as engineering, qualifications beyond a bachelor's degree helps with prospective jobs.

“The reality is 20 years ago a high school diploma was considered entry level,” Donaldson said. “Now we are in an era where entry level is considered having a bachelor's degree. So, to really set yourself apart, especially in this industry, a master's degree is a huge bonus.”

Completing a master’s degree can also help students narrow in on what type of career they may be looking for after graduation.

“There are a number of people who aren't sure what they want to do professionally, but they love studying English,” Nathanson said. “They spend one more year here focusing on what they love, and then they come out with an additional degree.”

One disadvantage to the AMP program that both Nathanson and Donaldson mentioned is the difficulty level.

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“You’re taking master's level classes when you are an undergraduate,” Donaldson said, “so these classes aren't for the faint of heart.”

To even apply for the AMP in engineering, students must have a 3.3 GPA. A 3.5 GPA is required in English. The English program is one of the newer AMPs on campus, and while difficult, Nathanson is confident that it is doable.

“We admitted our first class of AMP students last year,” Nathanson said. “So far none of them have had an issue with difficulty level. They all seem to be doing great, they all seem to be enjoying themselves.”

Each AMP has different requirements and deadlines. For the English department, AMP applications are due by April 30, while for ECE the registration is rolling, but being accepted before priority registration opens on March 27 allows students to be able to sign up for the graduate level courses that they need for the fall. Students interested in the AMP should meet with their program-specific advisor.


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