Agreement speeds up time it takes GVSU students to earn master's degree

Contact: Jeanne Baron

WMU's interfaith Kanley Memorial Chapel

ALLENDALE, Mich.—A partnership between Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University allows GVSU religious studies undergraduates to start their graduate study as much as two full semesters ahead of students who pursue graduate study in a traditional way.

The agreement, WMU 4+1 and GVSU, was signed March 29 in Allendale by WMU President Edward Montgomery, GVSU President Thomas J. Haas and other officials from the universities.

It allows Grand Valley students to take religious studies courses at that university while working toward a Master of Arts in comparative religion at WMU. For Grand Valley students enrolled in 300- or 400-level REL courses, up to 12 credit hours of coursework toward the WMU master's degree, including six credits by examination, may be transferred.

Program benefits

Melanie Shell-Weiss, GVSU chair and associate professor of liberal studies, says the accelerated program framework puts students on a fast-track to a master's degree.

"This is one more way that Grand Valley's religious studies program provides attractive, relevant opportunities for students of all fields and backgrounds while helping them maximize their tuition investment," Shell-Weiss says.

Stephen Covell, chair and professor of comparative religion at WMU, calls the 4+1 program a wonderful opportunity for Grand Valley students because it saves them both time and money on their way to a master's degree.

"Graduates of our master's program go on to Ph.D. programs in the humanities and social sciences, law school, education and nonprofit work," Covell adds. "For students looking to go into these fields, the M.A. gives them a strong foundation to succeed."

The WMU 4+1 and GVSU agreement also opens the door for additional accelerated Master of Arts programs and Master of Science programs to be developed down the road for Grand Valley students who want to pursue a graduate degree at WMU.

More information is available on the WMU Department of Comparative Religion website and GVSU Integrative, Religious and Intercultural Studies Department website.

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

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