4+1 program brings more grad studies to ‘Berg

New applied analytics program allows students to get a graduate degree in just 1 extra year.

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Photo by Cole Geissler '21. The Gabriel House is home to Muhlenberg's Continuing Education and Graduate Program.

As the School of Graduate Studies expands, it is important for Muhlenberg students to know what opportunities become available to them. For example, one of its two graduate degrees, the Master’s in Applied Analytics (MAA) recently introduced a 4+1 program for Muhlenberg undergraduates, through which they can integrate some graduate courses into their undergraduate education and finish the graduate degree in just one extra year. 

David Donnelly, Ph.D., dean of the school of graduate studies, emphasized the benefit students will receive in shortening their degrees, saying, “It allows students to double count up to four classes for both the undergraduate degree and the graduate degree. That cuts the number of required classes. If you were to do an undergraduate and a graduate degree, typically it would be 44 classes; that cuts it down to 40 classes that are required. So it allows students to save money and allows students to get—in essence—an accelerated graduate degree in a year. Once they graduate, they’re coming into a field, probably at a higher salary level and more prepared and with another credential under their belt.”

There are a series of four math courses that serve as credit equivalents for introductory courses in the MAA sequence. By taking any of these undergraduate courses and earning a B or better, students can skip taking those corresponding courses in the MAA and potentially shave two semesters off their master’s degree. In the traditional MAA program, students take two courses per semester and finish in two full years (including summer semesters).

James Russell, Ph.D., assistant professor of statistics, said of the inspiration to start the program, “I was interested in creating the program so that we could offer our students more options to learn about statistics. Since there are lots of opportunities out there in statistics right now, I see it as a great opportunity for students.”

“I was interested in creating the program so that we could offer our students more options to learn about statistics. Since there are lots of opportunities out there in statistics right now, I see it as a great opportunity for students.”

Allison Davidson, Ph.D., associate professor of statistics, described choosing undergraduate courses that had parallels with existing master’s courses, saying, “I worked closely with my colleagues within Muhlenberg’s mathematics & computer science department as well as Richard Glejzer, the interim dean of graduate studies at the time.”

Donnelly advises that students majoring in math, statistics or computer science will have the simplest path in double counting the required courses to successfully complete the MAA. Students will also need at least a cumulative 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) in their undergraduate studies to continue in the school of graduate studies after their commencement. Both the interested student’s advisor and someone from the graduate school can work with them starting in their junior year to help them figure out their road to graduation. According to Donnelly, “Graduate tuition is $3200 per course, including all textbooks and most fees. While enrolled as an undergraduate student, students in the 4 +1 pay undergraduate tuition in the fall and spring, and summer graduate courses will be billed at the graduate rate.”

As for what students think of the new option, Sarah Koenig ‘23, a statistics minor, said, “I don’t know a ton about it, but right now I don’t think I’m interested in grad school right after undergrad. While I’m really excited about my stats minor, I don’t think I want to go into data analytics. It’s probably really useful for anyone interested in data analytics. It also is only one year post grad, as opposed to a masters program that would take longer than that, so it would get you working faster.”

Gabe Walsh-Shore ‘22, a theatre and math double-major, said, “I think this program benefits those who really want to take mathematics and run with it. I’m not sure if people outside of the STEM majors would feel that they would feel supported in it, even though it’s possible to do so. I was actually only made aware that the program existed a few months ago, so I don’t know how many people know about it (and know that they don’t necessarily have to be a math major to participate).”

“I think this program benefits those who really want to take mathematics and run with it. I’m not sure if people outside of the STEM majors would feel that they would feel supported in it”

Charis Hall ‘22, a math and dance double-major added, “I personally am not interested in the program because I’m not all that interested in analytics in general and I’ve decided not to go straight to grad school after graduating anyway. I think it could be a good option for some people though, probably someone looking to start a career working in analytics. It’s a skill that’s in high demand right now so it would allow students to start making money sooner.”

As Davidson said, “A variety of students can benefit from the implementation of this program. Data analytics, computer science and statistics are all highly marketable skills that employers in a plethora of areas would find beneficial. Earning a Master’s in Applied Analytics (MAA) can provide students a competitive advantage.”

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Kat '22 is a Media & Communication major who finds joy in cooking and eating varied cuisine, reading feminist takes on Arthurian legend, and thinking about one day going on a sailing voyage and learning how to swashbuckle. Most days you can find her lying on the floor of her room pondering her various responsibilities.

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