Accelerated Degree Program

Students in the Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Services and Sciences can accumulate credits toward a master's degree in blindness and low vision studies while still enrolled as an undergraduate student. Students can earn master's degrees in orientation and mobility for adults or vision rehabilitation therapy through the accelerated program.

Undergraduate students with senior standing who are admitted to the blindness and low vision accelerated degree program may count up to 12, but no fewer than six credit hours of 5000-level courses for graduate credit. These designated courses may be used to complete the master's degrees in blindness and low vision studies within 24 months of completing the Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Services and Sciences.

  • Applying to the program

    A prospective student who meets the eligibility requirements (see tab below) must meet with the healthcare services and sciences advisor and the blindness and low vision graduate advisor to develop plans of work for the bachelor's and master's degree programs.

    Before admission to the accelerated degree program can be finalized, students must submit the standard application for admission to Western Michigan University Graduate College including:

    1. An application
    2. Application fee
    3. Copy of all transcripts
    4. A plan of graduate work, signed by the prospective student, the undergraduate program director and the graduate program director
    5. Undergraduate GPA (at the time of application) of 3.3 or higher

    The plan of graduate work for the master's degree must clearly indicate:

    1. The 5000- and 6000-level courses (a maximum of 12 graduate credit hours) that will be counted for both the bachelor's and master's degrees.
    2. The graduation date for the master's degree that meets the time limit for the accelerated degree program (i.e., obtaining a masters degree in blindness and low vision studies within 24 months of completing the bachelor's degree). Any changes to the program plan must be submitted in writing and approved by the graduate program advisor and the graduate dean.

    CRITERIA FOR ADMISSION

    Permission to pursue an accelerated degree program does not guarantee admission to the Graduate College. Admission is contingent on meeting and following eligibility requirements at the time of entering the graduate program:

    1. Students must have completed a minimum of 88 and a maximum of 96 credit hours in their undergraduate programs, including credits earned from advanced placement.
    2. Transfer students must meet the University requirements for transferring credits from another institution.
    3. Students must have a minimum accumulated grade point average of 3.3 at WMU and 3.3 in blindness and low vision studies courses.
    4. International students must clarify their visa status with the Office of International Admissions and Services before submitting an admission application.

    Admission to the accelerated degree program does not guarantee admission to the Graduate College. However, successful completion of an undergraduate degree under the accelerated degree program (see requirements for participation and graduation) will ensure admission to the Graduate College.

  • Eligible program courses

    To select courses for the accelerated degree program, students will work with their undergraduate and graduate advisor to determine which credits in the current undergraduate curriculum the accelerated degree program credits will replace. Following is a list of the 5000- and 6000-level courses from which students will elect their 12 credit hours for the accelerated degree program administered by Western Michigan University's Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies:

    • BLS 5770: Services for Persons who are Blind or Have Other Disabilities (one to two credits)
    • BLS 5880: Psychosocial Aspects of Disability (two credits)
    • BLS 5890: Medical and Functional Aspects of Disability (two credits)
    • BLS 5900: Physiology and Function of the Eye (two credit hours)
    • BLS 5950: Introduction to Orientation and Mobility (two to four credits)
    • BLS 5970: Principles of Low Vision (two credits)
    • BLS 6020: Gerontology in Orientation and Mobility and Rehabilitation Teaching (two credits)
    • BLS 6050: Practice in Low Vision (one credit)
  • Program requirements

    REQUIREMENTS FOR PARTICIPATION AND GRADUATION

    • Students must complete the bachelor's degree prior to entering the master's program. Students in the accelerated degree program may not elect to bypass the bachelor's degree. Students will be allowed to count only a maximum of 12 5000- and 6000-level credits taken during their undergraduate studies toward their master's degree. These credits will be waived toward their master's degree.
    • Accelerated degree program students enrolled in Western Michigan University's Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Health Services program must take BLS 3050 before applying.
    • Students must receive a grade of B or better in the 5000- and 6000-level courses taken during their undergraduate studies.
    • Courses with a grade of CB or below cannot be counted toward their master's degree.
    • Students who do not meet the GPA criterion of 3.3 will have the earned grade applied to their undergraduate program only, assuming the earned grade meets requirements for the undergraduate program. Students who do not meet the grade criterion as part of the accelerated degree program must apply for readmission to the graduate program.
    • No more than 12 hours of graduate work may be counted toward the requirements of the student's bachelor's degree.
    • Students must complete the master's degree within 24 months from completion of the bachelor's degree. If the master's is not completed within this time, none of the 5000- or 6000-level courses specified in the plan of graduate work will count toward the master's degree. The graduate program advisor may grant an extension to this in special cases.

    CONTINUING ELIGIBILITY

    • It is the responsibility of the student to recognize his/her eligibility status.
    • A student completing the bachelor's degree requirements with an accumulated GPA of less than 3.3 is automatically terminated from the accelerated degree program.
    • A student who does not follow the approved plan of graduate work may become ineligible to participate in the accelerated degree program.
    • A student who is ineligible to participate in (or withdraws from) the accelerated degree program no longer qualifies for waiving courses specified in the plan of graduate work toward a master's degree. These courses, however, may be counted toward the student's bachelor's degree upon the discretion of the undergraduate advisor.
    • The graduate advisor shall inform a student who becomes ineligible to participate in the accelerated degree program in writing. A copy of this letter shall be sent to the Graduate College.

    WITHDRAWAL

    A student may withdraw from an approved accelerated degree program at any time by informing the director of the undergraduate program and the graduate advisor, in writing. A copy of this request to withdraw will be sent to the Graduate College for approval.