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A degree and then some

Through DU's business dual-degree program, Catherine Williams combined a business degree with an engineering major. Photo: Tim Ryan

In a competitive job market, how do new graduates beat out their competition? One way is to up the ante and walk out of college with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.

DU’s Daniels College of Business has the programs to help students get their educational job done quickly. For the last two years, the undergraduate/ graduate dual-degree programs, also known as the 3/2 and 4/1 programs, have offered students the opportunity to earn an undergraduate and a graduate degree in five years. The University is one of only a handful of top schools offering this option.

“The Daniels dual-degree programs provide the opportunity for top caliber students to cover six years of education in only five, and then to jump start their professional careers,” says Daniels Interim Dean Glyn Hanbery.

Dual-degree students receive both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the end of their fifth year. In the 3/2 program, students apply for graduate admission during their junior year and spend their last two years working towards their master’s degree. In the 4/1 program, students apply early during their senior year and devote their fifth year to graduate work.

Although formally launched just two years ago, the dual-degree programs aren’t entirely new. DU has been on the cutting edge since the late 1970s, when the accountancy department put the dual-degree idea in motion, says School of Accountancy Director Ron Kucic. DU’s first dual-degree students graduated in the early 1980s.

A dual-degree program can be a good fit for any major — not just business students. In fact, any undergraduate major can be combined with any of the nine graduate offerings at Daniels.

“Many students in engineering and other technology fields would prefer to start their own businesses. Given that, knowledge of business is essential,” notes Rahmat Shoureshi, dean of engineering and computer science. “These are the qualities that differentiate them from competitors. It encourages other studies and broadens perspectives of what they do and how they think. But, it’s also for the cream of the crop — not everyone can do it.”

Because the 3/2 and 4/1 programs require students to tackle graduate-level material without the benefit of first earning a baccalaureate degree, they are highly selective. Applicants’ overall GPA and GMAT scores weigh heavily, and only 55 percent of applicants are accepted into the dual-degree programs.

“Students have to contribute in the classroom with energy and the willingness to learn. They also have to go through a mandatory interview and articulate why they are a good fit for the program and why the program is a good fit for them,” explains Greg Grauberger, director of academic services at Daniels.

One of the biggest attractions of the dual degrees, he notes, is that students are able to count selected undergraduate classes for graduate classes (if they receive a “B” or better). In some instances, they can test out of graduate classes altogether.

Catherine Williams, a 2003 graduate of the 3/2 program, was an engineering major who didn’t want to go into design work. So, she opened doors for herself by adding an MBA to her resume. She now has a job she loves as a field sales engineer with Compass Marketing and Sales; she sells semi-conductors and provides technical support. She credits the opportunity to her joint degree.

“This program was a challenge, but it made me more marketable and helped me find the right fit,” Williams says. “You are in your own world, no matter what area you study, and this program will expose you to more things and make you more well-rounded.”

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