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July 27, 1998

UC to offer 'master of advanced study' degree

By Brad Hayward
UC Office of the President

Seeking to better serve Californians' needs for continuing education beyond the bachelor's degree, the University of California has begun development of a new degree program for working adults that will offer advanced professional education and advanced liberal studies in a variety of flexible and conveniently scheduled formats.

UC President Richard C. Atkinson issued a call earlier this month for campus academic departments to begin drafting proposals for pilot programs that will lead to a new Master of Advanced Study degree. Atkinson, discussing the initiative at a meeting of the Board of Regents in San Francisco, also announced that he is making planning grants available to the campuses for this purpose.

The new Master of Advanced Study program will offer UC-quality instruction in a manner that accommodates the schedules of working adults. Unlike more traditional master's degree programs, the Master of Advanced Study program will concentrate on a set of coordinated coursework with culminating projects or papers rather than emphasizing student research. The program also is likely to feature a number of interdisciplinary offerings to meet the changing needs of California's workforce.

"This innovative initiative will be a meaningful addition to the university's educational service to the state of California," Atkinson said. "Adding to one's knowledge during the course of a career is becoming more critical, and the University of California has an important contribution to make in meeting this need for advanced degrees."

Classes leading to the Master of Advanced Study degree could begin within two years. Some course tracks will be career-oriented and responsive to specific workplace needs, while others may enable individuals to pursue advanced studies in the liberal arts.

In announcing the initiative, Atkinson noted that today's college graduates are entering a workforce that is confronting dramatic changes. New professions are emerging, multiple career changes in the course of one's professional life are becoming common, and restructuring in the American workplace and the transition to an information-based economy are requiring individuals to renew their skills continually.

Currently, UC's offerings for working adults include certificate programs in specific subject areas, offered through University Extension, and full-time master's degree programs in professional disciplines ranging from business administration to public policy. The new degree program will offer adults who have already completed their bachelor's degree an additional, convenient set of options for attaining an advanced degree congruent with their professional and personal interests.

Many of UC's peers in the private university sector including Stanford, Chicago, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins offer similar kinds of programs. However, the UC initiative will allow students to pursue a variety of course tracks under a single degree title (the "M.A.S.") and will incorporate nontraditional means of structuring courses and delivering instruction.

"With this new degree, the University of California is recognizing the need among professionals for continuing exposure to the latest knowledge and research in their area," said Carol Tomlinson-Keasey, vice provost for academic initiatives. "The presentation of this information in a format that meshes with career and family demands will, we hope, encourage adults to pursue their dreams and goals."

Master of Advanced Study programs could be offered independently by UC academic departments or in partnership with University Extension. Regular UC faculty members will supervise the curriculum and conduct a significant portion of the instruction. In some courses emphasizing professional development, practitioner-instructors might also be used.

Admission requirements for the new program will be set by the departments offering the courses; student fee levels have not been established. Additionally, a variety of program formats will be offered to meet the needs of working Californians. For instance, some courses might be offered on work sites in coordination with companies, schools, or government agencies; others might be designed to fit particular professional schedules, such as intensive programs during the summer for educators; and others might include Internet-based instruction.

The systemwide Academic Senate, which has jurisdiction over UC curriculum matters, has endorsed the creation of campus pilot programs leading to the new degree. Specific course programs will be developed by academic departments on individual UC campuses over the coming months, and planning grants of up to $25,000 will be available to the campuses for this purpose. To assure course quality, the normal campus and systemwide reviews for assessing graduate programming will apply to the new degree programs.

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