Is the Combined Degree Program Right for You?

Did you know you could start working on your M.S. in Communications while you’re still an undergraduate? If you want to pursue a masters degree in the future, then the combined degree program may be right for you! The combined degree program can reduce total tuition costs and time spent on both degrees. These three students were asked interviewed regarding their experiences with the program. Find out if this program is right for you by reading these three testimonials from students currently in the program!

Grace Kiter

Grace Kiter is a communication studies major with a minor in ethics, culture, and society. Grace is in her first semester of the program, and expects to graduate within the next two years. Grace hopes to be able to teach communication courses at a community college and work as a communication specialist after graduation. She previously had an event planning internship at AmeriCorp last summer for the Michigan Community Service Commission. She currently works part time for MDOT as a student assistant. A random fun fact about Grace is that she hasn’t thrown up since she was 7 or 8 years old. Some campus resources she’s found helpful are the writing center and speech labs, as well as the recreation center.

What made you decide to do the combined degree program?

Dr. Anthony Spencer really encouraged me to join the program, but I appreciated that I could join as an undergraduate and get a sort of “head start” on the degree.

How is the program course load? 

The program course load, so far, has been manageable. I take two classes a week and I feel like the assignments and readings have been interesting and beneficial to me already.

Do you have advice for students considering the program?

My advice would be to do it. It is a really great program; the teachers, faculty, and fellow students make it a very fun and enjoyable experience.

Casey Johanson

Casey Johanson is a communication studies major in her second semester as a combined degree student, so she will graduate with her bachelor of science in April 2023 and complete her master of science next year. Casey hopes to become a book editor. She would also like to teach at a university or college after graduating. Casey works 30-40 hours a week and is involved in 10 hours of volunteer work. She also writes a few pieces a month for two online publications resulting from an internship last summer. When asked for a random fun fact Casey shared the hippos do not swim and instead they run and jump underwater!

What made you decide to do the combined degree program?

The combination of money and time saved was the biggest appeal to me! I’m also a little competitive so I wanted to be the first person in my family to earn a master’s degree.  

How is the program course load?

It’s pretty good, it’s definitely interesting to take advanced courses in such a broad field. It’s a reasonable amount of work and my classes feel more important than my undergrad courses have felt. 

Do you have advice for students considering the program?

Do it!! Who else has the opportunity to earn a masters in two years? 

The masters degree is usually completed in 3 years for a part-time student or 2 for a full-time student.

What campus resources have you found helpful in your time at GV?

The most helpful resource is honestly all of the different seating options in the library. I know it sounds silly but ever since I found my favorite spot at the library on the Allendale campus I spend most Saturday or Sunday afternoons camped out. Since I have two stepdaughters and a significant other at home it has been the only way I can successfully study! Other than that I have only used the writing center once on campus because a teacher required it for a grade, but I did get a lot more out of it than I expected. 

Riley Sweet

Riley Sweet will finish her first year in the program at the end of this semester with plans to graduate with her bachelor of science this upcoming April and next April she is set to graduate with her master of science in communications. Riley’s major is public relations and she aspires to work for a public relations firm or a company that promotes values she believes in such as REI. Riley currently works in the Speech Lab. Riley has an upcoming internship with an agency this summer. A fun fact about Riley is that she recently got into rock climbing and attends Vertical Earth, GV’s rock climbing club, when she can!

What made you decide to do the combined degree program? 

This program was very efficient monetarily as well as credits-wise for me to pursue. I had considered going further than a bachelor’s degree but wasn’t committed to something until I saw this program. I’m passionate about communications and research which are both present in this program, so a slightly expedited track just made sense for me. Even if I decide later on to get an additional masters degree in something else, I’ll have one which was completed early on in life and gives me a good head start.

How is the program course load? 

I find that it is manageable, but it’s really only manageable for me because I don’t have a minor and because my capstone was completed in my Junior year. If I had a minor, or if I had to complete my capstone while being in this program, I feel as though it would get very overwhelming. There is a lot of reading and bigger projects which take up a lot of time, versus many little assignments in undergrad. The program includes your senior year of undergrad, a time where there are a lot of moving parts and much of your future to think of. I found it was kind of hard to fully participate in undergrad activities and student extracurriculars because my grad classes are in the evening, a time when extracurriculars are typically scheduled. So there are some things that I have missed out on, and driving downtown each time can get a little annoying. 

Do you have advice for students considering the program? 

I would tell any student to look into it more when they are considering entering the program, it’s not right for everyone to get a masters degree and that’s okay. Resources like this blog and first hand experience are something that I wish I could have read when going into the program, just to learn more about what students think. Overarchingly, I feel that the combined degree program was the right ‘place’ for me, the professors love what they do and care about student learning. I don’t enjoy that grad classes are at night only, and that there is only one section available for most classes, but the participation among those classes is great to see and be a part of. 

For more information on pursuing a combined degree program you can request information from The Graduate School:

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