It was the spring semester of 2019. At the time, I was a junior in the Writing Arts Major. I got an email about a “4+1 B.A./M.A. Writing Arts Program.” After reading it over, I was interested, but worried if I’d be getting in over my head. A Master’s degree in only five years...should I pursue a Master’s degree? Will I be able to balance the heavier workload? What if it’s too hard? Looking back now, as I’m closing in on a year in the 4+1 Program, I know I made the right decision. But how does the program work, and what has been my experience so far?
The 4+1 program allows Writing Arts students to take graduate and undergraduate classes during their senior year as they work toward their Bachelors and Master’s degrees. As a senior, I’ve taken four graduate classes (two each semester) along with my undergraduate classes. These graduate classes count toward both my Bachelors and Masters degrees. This means I’m taking twelve fewer credits overall (four less classes). On top of this, I’m saving money! During my senior year, I’ve paid an undergraduate tuition rate for my graduate classes. Also, because I have already completed one year of graduate school as a senior, I only have one year of graduate school left! (that’s the +1) Less time in school means less money to pay after!
To recap: the 4+1 program allows you to save time and money while pursuing a Bachelors and Masters degree. When I heard all this, I was hooked — I knew I had to apply.
Writing Arts students can apply for this program during the spring semester of their junior year. When applying, you’ll submit a hard copy of the following: the application form, a short essay on why you want to enter the program, and two pieces of writing that you feel demonstrated your abilities as a writer in specific areas (such as creative writing, journalism, and academic writing). Also, two letters of recommendation will need to be submitted via email. All these documents will be submitted to the 4+1 Coordinator, Ronald Block, who reviews your application. Then, later in the spring semester, you’ll find out if you got accepted! This year the application is due before March 15th.
Everyone has different reasons for applying to the 4+1 Program. Some may want to go to graduate school. The 4+1 would give them a head start and save them money. Some may apply because the career they are pursuing requires a Master’s degree. Or maybe they’re looking to challenge themselves in a demanding environment. The list goes on!
For me, it was a combination of all these reasons. I knew that having a Master’s degree would benefit me in the long run, and doing it while I’m still in school, as opposed to returning to school later, seemed like the best option for me. In the future, I want to teach at the college level, and that requires at least a Master’s degree.
My workload has increased sharply since joining the program, and balancing my classes is a challenge. In my experience and opinion, graduate classes require more time and responsibility than most undergraduate classes. In the first two semesters, I’ve had to learn how to manage the increased demands of these graduate classes while also taking my senior level undergraduate classes. I’ve improved my strategies of time management, organization skills, and kept an up-to-date planner to ensure I’m completing my assignments on time. There are days when I’m on campus for ten to twelve hours at a time for all my classes. Much of my free time is dedicated to school, more than ever before.
Despite these challenges, I’ve gained so much from the program. The graduate classes have improved my abilities and expanded my knowledge of writing immensely. I’ve found a passion in creative nonfiction, one I might not have discovered had I not taken Special Topics in Nonfiction last semester. I also feel at home in these classes—everyone is a writer! It is a privilege to be among peers of great and passionate writers. I will carry the lessons I’ve learned and works I’ve produced long after my stay at Rowan has ended.
I’m glad I made the jump into the 4+1 Program, and I know my future-self will be thankful I did. If you’re interested in learning more about the program or applying, click here to see the application instructions.