Many of us dread the idea of going to school for an additional three years to get a Juris Doctorate, so getting a masters beforehand is perhaps inconceivable. However, we do attend a school called the University of Connecticut (UCONN), a school that strives to provide excellent educational and career paths that fit the needs of its diverse student population.
Luckily for us Political Science Majors, CLAS students, and anyone interested in policy and administration, UConn offers Fast-Track programs in Masters in Public Policy (MPP) and a Masters in Public Administration (MPA). Within these educational experiences, you can start graduate-level courses during any year in your undergraduate education. Typically, however, most students apply during their sophomore and junior years once they are set on a career path.
These Fast-Track Programs accept admissions on a rolling basis at no extra cost to your tuition. Then once you graduate, you will have one additional year of classes and an internship. During this extra year, you have your tuition waived, you are paid a stipend of approximately $10,000, and you receive medical benefits. So, in five years total, you can have a master’s on top of your bachelor’s degree.
These two master’s degrees offer a wide range of tangible skills allowing you to work in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. You can be an administrator, lobbyist, operations lead, etc. with a MPA or a policy analyst, financial manager, budget analyst, etc. with an MPP. These degrees offer endless room for growth, especially coupled with a Juris Doctorate. While the MPP and MPA give you valuable managerial and analytical skills, the JD will educate you on the intricacies of our common law system.
It typically takes three years for a student going to law school full time to complete their JD. Once finished, they can take and hopefully pass their BAR exam. After all this takes place, you would have been in school for eight years after graduating high school, but you would have shaved one potential year off taking the fast-track opportunity. Don’t be scared by this daunting educational marathon. The payoff is great, comparable in pay to all high-level degrees, but offers many more diverse opportunities in any field.
Being a Political Science major myself, I am currently looking at applying to the Masters in Public Administration program. With many of us looking at a career in law and politics, this educational route seems like a no brainer. You can get the added real-world experience that the MPA provides, you get paid to do it, and you get a year shaved off the traditional time it takes to complete the degree, putting you ahead of the competition. If you only want a career in law, policy, or administration only choose the MPA, MPP, or JD. But if you want to keep your options open and earn complimentary degrees, choose the UCONN Fast-Track program and help lead the next generation.