Pact with WMU puts Aquinas students on fast track to master’s degrees

Contact: Marissa Sura

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—A new agreement between Aquinas College and Western Michigan University provides a path for Aquinas students to obtain both an undergraduate and a graduate degree in as little as five years.

The two institutions signed a cooperative agreement Feb. 20 in Grand Rapids establishing a framework for 4+1 degree programs—accelerated bachelor’s to master’s programs—in multiple fields of study. It means students do not have to wait until completing a bachelor’s degree to start working on a graduate degree.

The group of main WMU and Aquinas signing ceremony participants.

Signing ceremony participants included, from left: (seated) Bott and Quinn and (standing) Stapleton, Kesselring-Quakenbush, Cousins and Savino.

“This partnership provides incredible value for Aquinas students and provides a more qualified workforce for the businesses and organizations in our community,” Dr. Kevin Quinn, Aquinas College president, said during the Feb. 20 signing ceremony. “Students receive the benefits of an Aquinas liberal arts education, they save money while earning two degrees, get into the workplace faster with valuable skills and position themselves to earn higher starting salaries. That’s an all-around win.”

Aquinas and WMU officials have been developing the new accelerated degree framework for the past year. It allows students to receive a bachelor’s degree from Aquinas College and a master’s degree from WMU in an average of five years.

In addition to Quinn, signing ceremony participants included Drs. Jennifer Bott, WMU provost; Heather Kesselring-Quakenbush, Aquinas associate provost; Susan Stapleton, WMU Graduate College dean; Damien Marie Savino, Aquinas dean of science and sustainability; and James Cousins, WMU College of Arts and Sciences associate dean.

The first two accelerated degree programs, a Master of Arts in chemistry and Master of Science in Engineering (industrial-accelerated), will be available in fall 2019. Three more programs are in development, and as many as 10 might ultimately be offered.

“This partnership sets the stage for unique opportunities for students in West Michigan to advance their professional and career aspirations,” Stapleton noted during the signing ceremony. “We’re excited to partner with an institution like Aquinas College to promote students continuing their education and earning a master’s degree.”

Accelerated degrees

The new agreement allows qualified Aquinas undergraduate students to transfer a maximum of 12 credits earned during their first four years of college and apply them toward a WMU master’s degree.

Of the 12 credits, up to six non-entry-level undergraduate credits can be transferred from Aquinas to WMU for application toward a WMU master’s degree. In addition, students may earn up to six more graduate credits toward the WMU master’s degree by passing examinations based on upper-level undergraduate courses they take at Aquinas.

The courses that will be eligible for transfer credit and credit by examination will be specific to each program of study. To learn about program criteria and requirements, Aquinas students will work with their admissions counselor or academic advisor in partnership with WMU advisors.

Under the accelerated program framework, students may apply for acceptance to WMU’s Graduate College during their sophomore year. The one or more year of graduate study will take place on the WMU campus in Kalamazoo, with some classes available in Grand Rapids.

More information about the accelerated bachelor’s to master’s programs with WMU is available online or by contacting the Aquinas admissions office at (616) 632-2900.

Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University is a globally engaged, national research university that promotes success for learners at all levels and has earned praise for preparing job-ready graduates. WMU is based in Kalamazoo, attracts more than 22,000 diverse students, and operates regional locations in Grand Rapids as well as seven other Michigan cities. Learn more by visiting the WMU website.

Aquinas College

Aquinas College is a Catholic liberal arts college founded in 1886 by the Dominican Sisters-Grand Rapids. The wooded, 117-acre campus is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With 1,900 students and more than 60 academic programs, Aquinas College is an inclusive educational community that emphasizes career preparation, leadership, service to others and lifelong learning. Learn more by visiting the Aquinas website.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.