RIT Combined Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s Degree student enrollment steadily increases

Expanded course offerings give outstanding first-year students a jump on earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees

Elizabeth Lamark

RIT’s newest cohort of first-year scholars enrolled in the Combined Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s program enjoyed a welcome social Aug. 16.

First-year student Daniel Bossett hasn’t taken a college course yet, but he already has his sights set on a career incorporating sustainable technology into mechanical engineering when he graduates with his master’s degree four years from now.

Bossett is one of 740 new RIT students enrolled in the Combined Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s Degree program, designed to offer highly focused, goal-oriented incoming students a one-of-a-kind opportunity to work toward a bachelor’s and master’s degree, starting from the first day of classes. Although for years RIT has offered accelerated bachelor’s/master’s programs, this is one of a handful of such programs nationwide where incoming first-year students are offered conditional admission to a master’s degree.

Program enrollment has grown more than 10 percent since its inception last year, with expanded bachelor’s/master’s options to provide students with even more opportunities and flexibility. New offerings, added to the dozens already available, include biomedical engineering BS/science, technology, and public policy MS; microelectronic engineering BS/materials science and engineering MS; physics BS/sustainable systems MS; psychology BS/experimental psychology MS; industrial engineering BS/sustainable engineering MS; and advertising and public relations BS/communication MS, to name a few. In addition, a variety of undergraduate degrees have been combined with RIT’s MBA.

Bossett, who is working toward his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering with a focus area in sustainability, is impressed with RIT’s dual emphasis on technology and creative expression though areas such as performing arts and maker spaces. He also believes that his experiences as an Eagle Scout and scuba diver have helped him develop a deep value for nature.

“I believe that earning an accelerated degree will give me additional skills and the ability to apply them sooner to face urgent sustainability challenges,” said Bossett, who is from Howell, N.J. “My interest in mechanical engineering comes from my long admiration for problem solving, and passion to apply it. Since I was young, I have marveled at how engineering can expand human capability, like in the case of scuba diving, and how I can improve technology so dramatically over time.”

Karen Palmer, associate director in RIT’s Office of Part-time and Graduate Enrollment Services, and Christie Leone, assistant director in RIT’s Graduate School, oversee the Combined Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s program.

“We are so proud that we are able to meet our outstanding students where they are and give them a leg up when it comes to earning advanced degrees,” said Palmer. “The growing number of students and combinations are a testament to the success of this program and a testament to the abilities and hard work of our students who were the pioneers of this effort last year.”

Trishelle Hoopes, who is earning her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and master’s degree in materials science and engineering, was part of the first cohort in 2021. She decided to enroll in the Combined Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s program because she believes that earning both degrees in a five-year span will put her ahead in the job market upon graduation.

“I am enjoying my time in the program so far,” said the Lancaster, Pa., native. “It has also helped me form a clearer career path. I am hoping to work in the textile industry, specifically in the development of environmentally friendly fabrics that can be produced on a mass scale.”

Additionally, RIT students currently enrolled in qualifying undergraduate degree programs can apply for admission to an accelerated pathway after their second or third year of study, depending on their bachelor’s degree program.

Palmer said the benefits to these scholars accelerating their degree programs are many. They include earning two degrees in less time while still taking advantage of cooperative-education experiences, internships, study abroad, early engagement and research opportunities with faculty, and special programming and activities. In addition, Combined Accelerated Bachelor’s Master’s degrees offer a noteworthy return on investment, with both a cost savings and increased earning power with higher starting salaries.

First-year student Marc Maalouf is a hands-on learner and creator and said that RIT really struck a chord with him. He will be working toward his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology and master’s degree in manufacturing and mechanical systems integration and dreams of one day working in the automotive industry.

“For such a STEM-heavy field, I believe having a master’s degree at a relatively young age will give me a sizable advantage for me in my job search, and hopefully will provide a lot of leverage and experience for me to springboard into my career with,” said Maalouf, who is from Hillsdale, N.J. “As someone who has had an interest in cars as soon as I knew how to say the word, it was natural for me to choose automotive engineering as a career path, and I believe that this curriculum will give me all of the tools I need to make a career out of my passion.”

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