In English, a new way to a B.A./M.A.
Nicola M. White
the years, English
Department chair Michael Levenson and his colleagues have
noticed more and more talented undergraduate students in their
classrooms. These articulate individuals, with their obvious love
of literature, often performed at the same level as their graduate
departments recent formation of a combined five-year undergraduate
and graduate degree program seemed like the natural thing to do,
said Levenson, who designed the program with these students in
mind students who want to pursue their studies, but arent
sure about going straight to graduate school. The program will
start in the next academic year.
new program is unique to the University, where the English
major is a popular ndergraduate choice.
English Department chair
just came from a number of us realizing that undergraduates wanted
and needed more, often, Levenson said. They finished
a four-year degree and they were really just ready to begin the
study of literature.
students are unsure about committing the one-and-a-half to two
years after college required to obtain a masters degree.
By allowing some outstanding students to combine the undergraduate
and graduate experience in a five-year program, Levenson said,
he hopes to encourage more students to pursue their love of English
in a more approachable way.
the traditional route to a masters degree, a graduate English
student must complete eight classes within two years. With the
new five-year program, undergraduate English majors can take two
graduate school classes in their fourth year and, in their fifth,
complete the remaining six.
candidates will apply in the spring of their third year. But earlier
this year, when Rita Felski, director of graduate admissions,
sent out an e-mail to gauge initial interest, several current
fourth-year students scrambled to see if they could still apply.
A lot of these very bright students are taking more classes
than they need to graduate. They have spare time, so to speak,
to take graduate programs, Felski said.
To apply for the program, students must have a minimum GPA of
3.6 and provide two writing samples and letters of recommendation.
Accepted students can be dismissed if their grades slip during
their fourth year. As to concerns that the program could diminish
the graduate schools nationally renowned reputation, Levenson
said he believes the new program will only enhance the departments
inception of the five-year program which will only be available
to undergraduate University students will mean that fewer
outside candidates will be accepted into the traditional graduate
program, but not by too much.
will be more selective although its selective now,
turbulence in the economy also has meant an increase in the number
of applications to graduate school programs across the country.
In Levensons view, people are re-evaluating what they really
want to do with their lives.
get so many hundreds of applications from people who would have
dreamed of going to Silicon Valley and becoming rich who are now
thinking English is a better choice which is true,
graduate English students go on to pursue their Ph.D.s, but many
take other paths. Among current English graduate students, some
are teachers, lawyers, journalists, even scientists.
got some extremely great students, very smart, very articulate,
Felski said. I think its a really excellent idea.
Its been very enthusiastically received.