4+1 programs offer alternative paths to master’s degrees

FSU has introduced “4+1” and “3+3” programs, which allow students to obtain their master’s or law degrees at an accelerated rate.

The 3+3 program, which began in the fall, was created in partnership with Suffolk Law School. It allows students to receive their bachelor’s and law degrees in six years.

Additionally, the two 4+1 programs that have been approved are the bachelor of science/biotechnology master’s and the bachelor of arts/master of arts with a concentration in English.

4+1 programs in English and biotechnology allow students to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years. These programs will begin in the fall 2018 semester.

Yaser Najjar, dean of graduate studies, said, “A Framingham State undergraduate student who is accepted in the program can walk out with two degrees in five years – a bachelor’s degree after the fourth year and a master’s degree after the fifth year.”

Desmond McCarthy, English department chair, said, “We’re hoping that the opportunity to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from an English department as strong as ours will be an attractive option to students across Massachusetts.”

Najjar said in order to be eligible for the 4+1 program, students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA and then apply to the program in their junior years.

Students receive their acceptance letters by the end of their junior years and are able to begin graduate courses their senior years, according to Najjar.

These students are able to take up to three graduate courses during their senior years, said Najjar.

The English graduate program requires students to complete nine courses, while the biotechnology graduate program requires 13 courses.

Depending on which program students are in, they will either be paying for seven or nine graduate courses.

Emely Gay, a junior, said, “I think this is a very good start to the 4+1 program, but I definitely think other majors, like psychology or sociology, could really benefit from this program, too.”

The political science department is in the process of adding UMass Dartmouth Law School to the 3+3 law program. according to Christopher McCarthy-Latimer, political science department chair and pre-law program advisor.

Students interested in the 3+3 program must maintain at least a 3.30 GPA.

They must also take the Law School Admissions Test and score higher than or equivalent to Suffolk Law School’s average score from the year before.

If the interested students meet the requirements, then they have to apply to Suffolk Law School during their junior year, said Latimer.

Susan Dargan, dean of social and behavioral sciences, said, “Those students’ schedules have to be carefully planned and they have to know coming in that they want to go to law school.”

Vanessa Cefalo, a senior, said, “I think the best part of these programs is the amount of money students can save.”

Desmond McCarthy said, “It allows [students] to earn a master’s degree in less time than it would otherwise. Therefore, they would save money.”

Najjar said these programs are also convenient for students because they do not have to worry about applying to other schools and risk not being accepted.

They are already enrolled at FSU – therefore these students are definitely accepted and just have to meet the requirements for the program, said Najjar.

Dargan said another benefit of these programs is that they give students an extra edge when they get out there in the job market.”

Najjar added, “Most of our programs are labor-market oriented. … We have advisors from different companies or schools related to the major who really help us to design the curriculum based on what they expect from someone they just hired.”

He added, “The University is winning. The students are winning. Everybody is really winning.”

[Editor’s note: Desmond McCarthy is the advisor for The Gatepost.]

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