Although certain Boston University graduate programs draw in a number of students from BU undergraduate programs, students who continue their graduate education at the same institution may be at a disadvantage, BU officials said.
“A very small fraction of BU undergraduates apply, one reason being most faculty advise undergraduates interested in pursuing a research degree to go elsewhere,” said Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean Jeffrey Hughes. “Undergraduates applying to a BU graduate school are at a disadvantage because we think they should be learning elsewhere.”
Hughes said the reason he encourages his students to apply to different research institutions because graduate students should learn from new professors rather than repeat portions of their undergraduate work.
“It is better to be exposed to new faculty and new ideas because you have already majored in the field at this institution,” Hughes said. “You already learned from the faculty here and you are far better off going to learn from faculty at another leading research university and getting exposed to their ideas.”
In recent years, between seven and 10 students in each School of Law class year earned undergraduate degrees from BU, said LAW Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Alissa Leonard.
“Each year, one of our top undergraduate feeder schools in the entering class is BU,” she said in an email. “Students choose a law school based on a variety of factors.”
For the Class of 2015, 210 students matriculated to LAW, according to its website.
Leonard said LAW is an excellent school with a national reputation, so some BU undergraduates naturally choose to remain and enroll.
“Students have many reasons for choosing BU Law, regardless of whether their undergraduate degrees are from BU,” said LAW Dean Maureen O’Rourke in an email. “But certainly that we are a research university is quite helpful to us in recruitment.”
O’Rourke said BU undergraduate colleges are among the top 10 feeder schools for the BU School of Law.
Charles White, a School of Education associate professor, said he has not had a graduate student with a BU undergraduate degree in any of his classes.
He said BU undergraduates applying to SED graduate programs strive to get licensed in a new field to become more marketable.
“Probably most stay because they become acquainted with the faculty that teaches in the program,” White said. “They learn it’s a good program and they’re familiar with the campus and how things work.”
Pattaya Hongsmatip, a College of Engineering first-year graduate student, said she had interesting, captivating professors as an ENG undergraduate, and these professors were a factor in her decision to stay at BU in pursuit of a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering.
“From my standpoint, with what I talk about with other grad students, the graduate school professors have a completely different teaching style than undergraduate professors,” Hongsmatip said.
Jillian Tocci, a College of Communication junior, said she sees both benefits and drawbacks to enrolling in a COM graduate program with similar professors.
“It is a concern — if you are attending the same school, you re-learn a lot of the same ideas,” Tocci said. “But I also had professors get their undergraduate and graduate degrees from here, and they are outstanding.”
Although she is an undergraduate, Tocci said she does not feel like she would have an advantage over students applying from other schools.
“I honestly don’t think I have a leg up, because it’s a competitive grad program, and I like to think everyone gets the same chance,” she said. “I do hope recommendations from professors in the programs would help me, though.”
Tess Guttadaura, a second-year graduate student at the Tufts University Boston School of Occupational Therapy, said Tufts undergraduates are encouraged to apply to Tufts graduate programs.
“Tufts has an option where [if] you go to undergrad then grad there, you get 50 percent off tuition,” Guttadaura said. “It’s good to have people around [that are] comfortable with Tufts already, and who can show new students what it is all about.”
She said attending the same university for graduate work can ensure students are familiar with the campus and processes.
“It’s beneficial just in terms of figuring out how to register for classes — I was already familiar with the Tufts system,” she said. “It’s a lot easier … Anyone that is going to the same school again, they obviously have to love it enough to go again. It’s good for morale at the university when you just have people with that extra edge of passion.”