SMPA creates new five-year program

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A new dual-degree program at the School of Media and Public Affairs will allow undergraduates to save thousands of dollars and attain a master’s degree at a faster pace, University officials said Wednesday.

Starting in fall 2008, students can attain their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the school without reapplying. The program allows students to begin taking three master’s requirements during their senior year, reducing the time it takes to obtain a graduate degree, said Kimberly Gross, an associate SMPA professor.

“If you are interested, it gives you this opportunity to double count it with a substantial tuition discount,” she said.

By taking nine credits during their senior year, students will save $1,012 for each credit hour and a combined total of $9,108. The program has specialized interests that include journalism, American political communication and strategic communications.

The program’s directors plan to make the B.A./M.A. dual degree program just as competitive as the undergraduate program. Applicants must have a minimum 3.4 grade point average and strong Graduate Record Examination scores.

“GREs take time and are so important to the application process,” said Patricia Phalen, associate professor at SMPA. “It is really worth it to be prepared.”

Three of the five courses that can be completed during senior year include comparative media systems, media and globalization and media and foreign policy. To complete the master’s, the remaining classes include graduate research methods, six courses in an area of specialization and a thesis or alternative project. Similar programs exist around the country at colleges like Syracuse University’s Newhouse School.

Only six students attended the information session and the program creators predict that enrollment in such a program will be small.

“We are a selective major to start with and this program is for people who are interested in specific (areas of study) like campaign management,” Gross said. “We thought there would be interest amongst our students and it would be a good opportunity for students to go further in depth into the areas that our department specializes in.”

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