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New agreement provides fast-track to master’s degrees for Aquinas students

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A new agreement between Aquinas College and Western Michigan University provides a path for Aquinas students to obtain two degrees in less time, allowing them to earn an advanced degree faster, with less cost and in programs that give them the skills and expertise needed in the marketplace.

Today (Feb. 20) the two institutions signed a cooperative agreement that provides a framework for 4+1 – accelerated bachelor’s to master’s degree – programs in various fields of study.

“This partnership provides incredible value for Aquinas students and provides a more qualified workforce for the businesses and organizations in our community,” said Aquinas College President Kevin Quinn. “Students receive the benefits of an Aquinas liberal arts education, they save money while earning two degrees, get into the workplace faster with valuable skills and position themselves to earn higher starting salaries. That’s an all-around win.”

For the past year, Aquinas and WMU have been developing a new framework for an accelerated bachelor’s to masters program in which students receive a bachelor’s degree from Aquinas College and a master’s degree from WMU in an average of five years.

The first two accelerated programs available are Chemistry and Industrial Engineering, which will be offered in fall 2019. Three more programs are in development, with the expectation of five to ten in total.

“This partnership sets the stage for unique opportunities for students in West Michigan to advance their professional and career aspirations,” said Dr. Susan Stapleton, dean of WMU’s Graduate College. “We are excited to partner with an institution like Aquinas College to promote students continuing their education and earning a master’s degree.”

The new agreement will offer qualified undergraduate students the opportunity to transfer a maximum of 12 credits earned during the first four years that can be applied toward a WMU master’s degree.

Of those 12 credits, a maximum of six non-entry level undergraduate credits can be transferred between Aquinas and WMU for application toward a WMU master’s degree. Students must complete those courses with a grade of B or better for transfer credit.

Students may also obtain from WMU a maximum of six graduate credits by examination based on advanced-level coursework at Aquinas. Students must complete these credits at a grade of B or better to be assigned graduate level credit.

Details about which courses will be eligible for transfer credit and credit by examination will be specific to each program of study.

If students acquire and transfer the maximum 12 credits and complete a course load of nine credit hours per semester, they will complete a four-year bachelor’s degree at Aquinas College and continue on to earn a WMU master’s degree with only one additional year. Additional time would be needed for master’s programs that are greater than 30 credit hours or if fewer credits are completed per semester.

Aquinas students interested in an accelerated program will work with their admissions counselor or academic advisor and in partnership with WMU advisors to provide information about specific criteria and requirements.

Students may apply for acceptance in WMU’s Graduate School during their sophomore year. The one year (or more) of graduate study will be taught on the WMU campus in Kalamazoo with some classes available in Grand Rapids.

For the accelerated program in Chemistry, Aquinas students may be able to transfer six undergraduate credits to WMU toward a Master of Arts in Chemistry degree. Students may be able to transfer three additional undergraduate credits by examination toward a WMU master’s degree. Combined, students may acquire a maximum of nine credits that can be applied toward a master’s degree from WMU.  Students applying to this program are eligible for a WMU application fee and GRE waiver.

For the accelerated program in Industrial Engineering, Aquinas students may be able to apply WMU undergraduate engineering course credits toward a Master of Science in Engineering (Industrial-Accelerated) degree.

The accelerated bachelor’s to master’s program is another example of how Aquinas is offering exceptional value to its students. This past fall, the College launched its Four-Year Guarantee, promising that students will graduate in four years or the College will waive any additional tuition expense for up to one additional year for outstanding coursework required to graduate.

More information about the accelerated bachelor’s to master’s programs with WMU is available at https://www.aquinas.edu/academics/accelerated-bachelors-masters-degree-program or by contacting the Aquinas admissions office at (616) 632-2900.