Twice a year at the College of Liberal Studies convocation, I tell our B.A. and B.S. graduates that my advisors will be in the office bright and early on Monday morning to accept their applications for graduate school. This usually gets a laugh, but it is an easily earned laugh because everyone is already feeling a sense of accomplishment. The graduates have completed a journey toward a degree that they started years, and in some cases decades, before.
After everyone has left the auditorium and the OU seal has been loaded on the truck for the next event, I continue to feel the celebratory mood. I suspect that the graduates feel the same way for several days and weeks after convocation.
At some point, though, many graduates will begin thinking about returning to school to pursue a graduate degree. I want to share some ideas about why CLS bachelor’s graduates should consider returning to CLS for their master’s degree.
One very obvious reason is that our B.A./B.S. graduates already have substantial experience with online learning, and specifically, with online learning through the College of Liberal Studies.
All CLS courses use the same course management system, Desire2Learn, and almost all graduate courses use a course website/syllabus format similar to our undergraduate courses. Our graduate courses have many of the same essential elements as undergraduate courses, including course objectives, guiding questions and the four-unit format.
One main difference is that graduate courses run for 16 weeks instead of eight weeks, so assignments and due dates are adjusted accordingly.
In addition, students who earned their bachelor’s degrees at CLS have already worked with our excellent undergraduate academic advisors. Our graduate academic advisors are just as exceptional. We currently have two academic advisors. Michelle Shults guides students through the application process and advises students in degree planning. Russ Tresner guides students through the degree completion process and serves as special advisor to our military students.
A second reason is that like our undergraduate programs, all of our graduate programs are grounded in interdisciplinary learning. We believe that the issues and conditions that confront us in life and in society are best approached by using the knowledge from multiple disciplines as opposed to single disciplines.
Many of the problems we seek to resolve are extremely complicated and nuanced. When students approach these issues from an interdisciplinary perspective, they will find solutions and answers that are more creative and encompassing.
A third reason is the outstanding quality of our programs and professors. Like CLS undergraduate degree programs, our graduate programs go through a rigorous university and statewide review process.
We bring together scholars and practitioners in each degree area to design course and program proposals.
These proposals are first reviewed on campus by the OU Graduate Council and the Academic Programs Council, which are made up of OU professors from a variety of disciplines. The proposals then go to the OU Provost, the OU Regents and then to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for final approval.
The professors who teach in our graduate programs must also be approved by the OU Graduate College, and we take great care to make sure our professors are attentive to the needs of our unique students.
A fourth reason is a very practical one: out-of-state students who earned their undergraduate degrees at CLS receive a special alumni tuition rate, which is the same tuition rate we offer our military students (currently $300 per credit hour). This is a unique twist on the alumni rate that many universities offer to the children of alumni. Since most of our students are working adults with families of their own – and some with children in college as well – it is more appropriate to offer the alumni rate to the student/parent as opposed to the children.
These are all excellent reasons to consider pursuing a graduate degree at the OU College of Liberal Studies. The outstanding services and programs that are available to our undergraduate students are available to our graduate students as well. Please contact us if you have any questions about our programs.
About the Author: Julie Raadschelders is the Coordinator of Graduate Programs at the OU College of Liberal Studies.