Program Accelerates Quest for Master's Degrees
University’s Fast-Track Program Helps Outstanding Students Earn Graduate Hours
Feb. 9, 2010
If a master’s degree today is what a bachelor’s was yesterday, senior criminology major Robert Haynes expects to be caught up soon anyway under a program that lets UT Dallas students get an early jump on graduate school.
Haynes is among a group of students earning both degrees in five years under the University's Fast-Track program.
Fast-Track, now in its 18th year, allows undergraduates to take graduate courses for dual credit. Under the program, students may obtain a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in five years.
Thirty-one undergraduate degrees at the University currently offer the Fast-Track option. The most-popular Fast-Track options within each school are:
- Arts and Humanities: Literary Studies.
- Brain and Behavioral Sciences: Neuroscience, Psychology and Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology.
- Economic, Political and Policy Sciences: Economics.
- Engineering and Computer Sciences: Computer Sciences
- Management: Accounting and Information Management.
- Natural Sciences and Mathematics: Physics and Geosciences.
Tuition savings vary, but could reach a maximum amount equal to 15 graduate credit hours.
“By allowing students to begin graduate level work during their senior year, students not only complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees at an accelerated rate, but have the extra benefit of completing some graduate level course work at undergraduate tuition rates,” said Greg Morris, assistant vice president for undergraduate admissions.
For some, the program influences the decision of where to attend college.
“Fast-Track was part of my decision to come to UT Dallas, because it will allow me to get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years,” said Miriam McKenzie, who earned her bachelor’s in accounting last spring. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in accounting through the UT Dallas School of Management.
McKenzie saw the added workload of graduate courses as good preparation for post-baccalaureate study.
“Taking graduate courses while finishing my bachelor’s degree was just something I felt I had to do,” she said. “If someone’s educational path includes a master’s degree, Fast-Track is a much smarter way to get it done.”
Haynes has found no room for “senioritis” in his final year of undergraduate study.
“I have to set aside more time to read the additional material that was not expected of an undergrad student,” said Haynes. “What is challenging, but also rewarding, is taking the graduate public affairs classes because they allow greater expression, a smaller class size and greater academic challenge.”
Fast-Track is offered by each school at the University except the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. Participation requirements vary from school to school; students interested in the Fast-Track program should check with their academic advisor for more information.
A total of 5,741 students have participated in Fast-Track since its inception, according to University records. During an average semester, 650 to 700 seniors participate in the Fast-Track program.
The University counts Fast-Track participants as undergraduates until they complete a bachelor’s degree, and then transfers their classification to that of a graduate student.
Fast-Track is a vital part of the recruitment tool kit for UT Dallas, said Vice President for Enrollment Management Curt Eley.
“We need a Fast-Track program because high-achieving undergraduates are often thinking ahead to graduate school,” he said. “Many are aware that advanced degrees are essential to success.”
Morris also thinks the Fast-Track program is a perfect fit for an institution that attracts students whose SAT scores usually exceed the Texas average.
“Students at UT Dallas have always been known for their academic prowess and tenacity to excel beyond the normal,” he said. “The Fast-Track program provides a way for them to do just that.”