Earning a master’s degree at the University of Wyoming could take five years instead of the traditional six if a new program is approved.

The UW Faculty Senate recently discussed creating a 3+2 program during an Oct. 26 meeting. The program would allow students to earn a master’s degree in five years instead of the more standard six years, said Ben Rashford, chair of the graduate council.

“Currently, departments are not allowed to have a 3+2 program — they don’t fit within any of the university’s rules,” he said. “We’re looking at whether or not it’s appropriate.”

The graduate council was tasked with determining if an accelerated program was worthwhile at UW. The council presented a position paper, which shows all 12 members of the council voted in favor of allowing 3+2 programs.

The office of academic affairs originally tasked the graduate council to look at the possibility of creating 3+2 graduate programs in many UW departments, said Ann Hild, associate vice president of graduate studies.

“Their position is to try and suggest some guidelines and procedures to create those kinds of programs,” she said. “My goal is, if these programs are created, to scrutinize how it would be instituted into the individual departments, such as the number of hours that transfer into that graduate degree.”

The College of Engineering is already ahead of the 3+2 program, said Steve Barrett, associate dean of engineering. The Quick Start program, similar to the proposed 3+2 program, has been in place for about a decade.

“The idea is, effectively, you can complete the undergrad degree in four years and then, within a calendar year, complete their graduate degree,” he said.

The program lets senior undergraduates take two graduate-level electives, Barrett explained, and the classes would count toward both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. The student would then head into graduate school with six credits.

However, the students would still be handling an increased work load, Barrett said. Most graduate students take nine credits a semester — Quick Start students need to average 12 a semester.

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