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Archive for Sunday, August 25, 2013

Schools create faster, cheaper paths to graduate degrees

August 25, 2013

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Getting a graduate or law degree faster, and at a lower overall cost: What’s not to like about that?

It’s an approach taken by the Kansas University School of Law and the Business School’s MBA program, both of which have started programs this year to graduate students sooner. Here’s a look at what each program is doing:

Law school

• The new program: The school’s “3+3” program allows freshmen to graduate with bachelor’s and law degrees in six years, one year early. Starting this fall, about three dozen freshmen will begin the program. They’ll also be placed in a special cohort and benefit from a variety of additional advising services and other special educational programs. The bachelor’s program will be streamlined; students will take a few more credit hours each semester along the way and spend just three years before they move on to law school.

• Why they did it: Steve Freedman, assistant dean of admissions, said the new program provides advanced students, who know they want to go to law school, a chance to save a year of tuition and living expenses. The process is competitive, Freedman said, but gives KU a leg up on attracting top students from across the region and country. “For out-of-state students, this will give them an extra reason to attend KU,” he said.

• Student perspective: Olathe Northwest senior Nate Crosser will be among the first students in the program. He’s always wanted to be a lawyer, and said he thinks it’d be better to get into the legal workforce as soon as possible. He looked at other schools, but said the 3+3 program is the reason he’s going to KU.

“I was really excited when I got in,” Crosser said. “It’s going to allow for a lot of other opportunities.”

Business school

• The new program: The full-time MBA program has been shortened from a 48-hour, two-year program to a 42-credit, 16-month program. The program’s structure has also changed, and requires students to complete a summer internship the semester before they finish the program. Those starting the fall semester can complete the program by the following December.

• Why they did it: Cathy Shevoy, director of the MBA program, said it’s becoming increasingly difficult for employees to take two years off from the working world to complete the full-time program. “We need to get them in and out in a timely manner,” she said. In addition, those completing the summer internship — where many students impress future employers — only have to complete one final semester, instead of two previously, before possibly accepting a job offer from their internship experience. “The employers really like this,” she said.

• Student perspective: Paul Epp, who started in the program in the fall, said his decision to attend the program — after spending several years in Nashville running his own music business — came down to keeping costs down. “I was looking for a program that had a reasonable cost,” said Epp, who valued the one less semester of tuition and expenses while being out of full-time employment. “Taking two years out of the workforce is a risk.”

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