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Students weigh benefits of combined degree experience

Jamie Lim, a Boston University Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences junior, said he applied to the Modular Medical Integrated Curriculum in his sophomore year because he liked the idea of continuing to go to BU for medical school.

Boston University offers a comprehensive range of graduate programs as well as accelerated undergraduate programs for students. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY ABIGAIL LIN/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

“I moved around a lot as a kid,” Lim said. “Having the knowledge I’d stay in one city and school for the next six years was really important to me.”

Instead of seeking separate undergraduate and graduate degrees, some BU students said they are pursuing the combined bachelor’s and master’s accelerated degree programs.

Lim said that while he considered pursuing his undergraduate and graduate degree separately, it would not have been practical given the status of his F-1 Student Visa.

“If I were not in this program, I’d have no option to take time off after getting my undergraduate degree,” Lim said. “I’d have to apply for graduate school abroad and come back to the U.S. for interviews.”

Monica Tanouye, a College of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said she came to BU as a linguistics and Spanish double major, but soon became interested in economics.

“My options were that I could graduate in three years with a double major and go abroad all of my junior year, or I could do the accelerated economics masters program,” Tanouye said. “I figured the accelerated masters program would be the best bet for me.”

Tanouye said this degree would help strengthen her resume.

“Having a masters is always good, especially if I’m going to work in the econ. field or even outside of it,” she said. “Higher education is always a plus.”

Another advantage of doing the combined degree economics program is the tuition money saved, Tanouye said. However, she will not be able to diversify her undergraduate experience.

“Doing this program, I have no time to do that or study other languages, which I would have liked to do,” Tanouye said.

Brianna Rodrigues, a SAR junior in the speech pathology Bachelor of Science, Master of Science combined degree program, said she had to fit all of her requisite courses in her first three years.

“You’re also working on your graduate program while your friends are still undergrads,” Rodrigues said. “But one advantage is that you don’t have to take the GREs.”

Megan Winderbaum, an academic advisor in the BU political science department, said the program maintains high standards for admission. Its master’s candidates study alongside its post-doctorate candidates.

“We want to know these undergraduates will be able to hold their own in the classroom with our Ph.D. candidates,” she said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a problem where a student didn’t measure up to the standards we expect of them.”

Kristine Strand, a professor in the SAR Academic Services Center, said the Bachelor of Science, Master of Science combined program in speech language pathology is intended for students who know what they want to do early on.

“Many students come to college and they aren’t exactly sure what they want to do, so they spend their undergraduate years trying to figure that out,” Strand said. “This is a somewhat accelerated program by about a semester for students who are very focused and directed.”

Jack Dolan, a College of Engineering freshman, said if he were to pursue graduate school he would look outside of BU.

“I’ve read that many companies will look on you more highly if you change your graduate school because it reflects you are able to adapt to change,” Dolan said. “Other than that, I’d say it’s probably a good choice for someone interested in getting both degrees at one time.”

Netzayet Jones, a second-year graduate student in the School of Public Health, said she completed her undergraduate degree at Emory University.

“Emory offered students combined degree programs in public health and nursing, which were five-year programs I believe,” she said. “But overall, they weren’t really big at Emory because I only knew a couple students doing them and they were really difficult programs.”

Jones said she would be interested in the dropout rate for the combined degree programs at BU.

“I don’t know how similar it is to other programs,” she said. “But I’ve heard of programs where they select students and give them a position in medical school, and the student really struggles.”

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