The Department of Computer Science at Anderson University and the Center for Information and Communication Sciences at Ball State University recently teamed up to offer students the opportunity to earn both their undergraduate and graduate degrees within four years.
Through this unique scheduling plan, a student can earn a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems from AU in three years. The student can then work through the graduate curriculum at Ball State to earn a master’s degree in Information and Communication Sciences in 11 months.
[Photo: Anderson University Assistant Professor of Computer Science Sam Blanchard works with computer science students.]
The program grew out of a collaboration between Prof. Charles Koontz, chair of the Department of Computer Science at AU, and Dr. Steve Jones, director of CICS at Ball State. After learning about the accelerated graduate program at Ball State, Koontz looked at the AU curriculum and realized that a student could complete an AU bachelor’s degree in three years.
“The catch is that one would have to work year-round,” said Koontz. “Obviously, because of the effort involved, such a plan would only suit a highly committed student.”
Traditionally, a student seeking a master’s degree in the computer science field would spend four years earning a bachelor’s degree and an additional two years working toward a master’s. Along the way the student would likely rely on student loans, resulting in a large amount of debt at graduation.
Both professors saw the value of an accelerated program — especially for international students who would benefit from having multiple degrees from separate institutions before returning home. “Having that master’s degree when looking for a job makes one look strong,” said Jones. “In this plan, you can get it faster and save money along the way.”
Ball State’s graduate program has over a 90 percent job placement rate, and students have gone on to work for companies such as Intel, Cisco Systems, and AT&T. They generally fill a variety of roles such as account executives, support engineers, or work on IT infrastructure.
“The graduate curriculum at Ball State complements the strong problem-solving background the student develops through their liberal arts coursework here at AU," said Koontz.
According to Jones, students from AU usually graduate in the top 5 to 10 percent of the Ball State graduate program. “Before they step foot on campus here, they have the tools already in place to hit the ground running with no prep-work needed,” said Jones. “It truly is a smooth transition.”
Koontz said the arrangement is a great option for students looking to go into computer science with more than an undergraduate degree. “If a student wants to come to Anderson but wants a higher degree,” said Koontz, “here is that opportunity.”
— Charles Holcomb is a sophomore from Westfield, Ind., majoring in communication arts and political science. Holcomb is an associate with Fifth Street Communications, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.