Communication and media, history and athletic training programs to allow undergraduates in senior standing to enroll in Masters level classes and complete both degrees in five years
UNI will be offering an exciting new opportunity to high-achieving students at the beginning of this fall. The communication and media, history and athletic training programs will be offering a 4+1 graduate program that allows undergraduate senior standing students to enroll in MA-level classes and complete both degrees in five (rather than six) years.
The process of creating this new program started last year and went through different committees in the fall. It was soon approved, and the recruitment process for eligible students was set to begin this spring.
Charles Kyle Rudick Ph.D is the Graduate Program Director and an Associate Professor within the University of Northern Iowa’s Department of Communication and Media. Rudick expects students to feel excited and possibly a little overwhelmed due to this opportunity arising so quickly. However, once this opportunity becomes more known to students, he believes it is something they will be excited about.
“I think that as things go forward, we are able to communicate with students more regularly about what the program is, what it offers, and how it can connect people to their professional ambitions after graduation,” Rudick said. “I think that what we are going to see is a lot of students really excited about this.”
As word travels through campus, younger students are thinking about the upcoming chapters of their lives and what this 4+1 program might offer for their future. Zoey Hutton, a sophomore studying PR, said, “I never really thought about getting my Master’s degree, but I am definitely more interested in the idea now that this new 4+1 program exists.”
One of the main benefits of an undergraduate student pursuing the 4+1 program is utilizing undergraduate scholarships, grants, and financial aid to cover the first year of graduate school. The second-year allows a student to be awarded up to a $2,000 tuition scholarship to help offset the second year cost. If a student takes the two-year program route, assistantship opportunities and tuition scholarships are offered. The assistantship assignments are essentially work/study programs available for students to help defray the cost.
UNI is offering different ways to get students the same outcome. In this case, it is a Master’s degree at an affordable cost. Rudick stated, “We want to make sure students, whichever program they may choose, have the most affordable Master’s education we can give them.”
Rudick noted that the history and athletic programs could approach their curriculum differently from him with communication and media. Even with different approaches, all program directors are mindful that this is an additional opportunity with the same rigor a traditional two-year master’s program offers.
This new program will be used as a recruitment tool to help increase student enrollment. In addition, its purpose is to cater to and provide a unique opportunity created for academically gifted/high achieving students seeking a challenging academic climate. This rigorous program course and task load are not meant for every student.
A fear about offering this new 4+1 graduate program is that it may seem like UNI is using this as a way to hand out diplomas. Rudick wants the public to understand that handing out diplomas is not what this program is doing. “We want to strongly communicate to students, employers looking at our credentials, and community members that that’s not what we are doing here.”
He continued, “We’re reserving this for a very specific type of student who is very academically gifted, excelling in their programs, and is looking for that next level of challenge. We can offer that here.”