Sticking around: Chapman’s grad school 4+1 gaining popularity

While many seniors are sad to see their Chapman days come to an end, Madeline Brashear had good reason to smile during last spring’s graduation ceremonies. She was one of the few seniors who wasn’t leaving.

Brashear had been accepted into the Integrated graduate program, which meant she didn’t have to leave Chapman just yet.

“The program allowed me to continue my research for my thesis and challenge me at a graduate level,” Brashear said.

The Integrated MBA program, which is also referred as 4+1, is open to current Chapman undergraduates and is open to all majors who want to continue their education at the graduate level. The program is meant to enable students to begin taking MBA coursework in the senior year and earn a MBA degree within one year finishing with their undergraduate degree.

Brashear, who studied history as an undergraduate, is now earning her MBA through the war and society program.

“I loved the history program at Chapman and was so excited to be able to continue on at the graduate level,” Brashear said. “The program allows me to work at a graduate level while still working on my bachelor’s degree. Not only does it shorten the time I need to attend graduate school which is cool, it puts me at a higher level among peers.”

The Argyros School of Business and Economics. Photo by Lindsey Sandri.

Serena Healey graduated from Chapman in 2001 with a degree in business administration with an emphasis in marketing. She was hired by Chapman in the summer after her graduation and is now the assistant director of the graduate business programs for the Argryos School of Business and Economics.

Healey helps to grow the program and connect graduate students with alumni and with each other.

“The personalization is what I think separates us from other programs,” she said. “We have that small campus and because the staff and faculty really do take pride in the university and the students, we get to know our students very well. So we have a lot of communication with them.

The Integrated program only has about 10 to 20 students each year.

“The classes I’m taking this semester are thought provoking and I’m excited to register for next (summer) semester,” Brashear said. “The class sizes are small which allows for interesting discussions.”

To participate in the program, undergraduate students must apply in their junior year and begin taking graduate level courses in their spring semester of senior year. That student is required to take at least one undergraduate course in addition to 10 credits of the Integrated program.

“After that final semester, you would graduate, participate in your ceremony, like normal, and then you go immediately in your summer semester. So you don’t really have a break from go because you start summer right after your senior year in the summer and then you go continuously for another year and then you earn your MBA degree,” Healey said.

Because you are required to take 10 credits in your senior year, students aren’t left with a lot of room for a break after graduation or before it.

“I plan on attending law school, this program sets me apart as well as prepares me for advancing my education further, but I would say that the only downside to this program and that is it is quite rigorous,” Brashear said. “You must be willing to work a lot harder and hold yourself at a higher standard.”

The program is open to all majors but Healey said that most of the students come from a business background because that is the industry that it is more common to see MBA’s. However, she believes but that they are becoming for versatile in any industry.

“The demand for MBA graduates has been very steady,” Healey said. “The MBA degree offers diversity, and I think that’s one of the strongest pushes for the degree itself, is because this degree can you take you into so many different fields and industries.”

The Fenestra symbol represents the window of opportunity that Chapman provides its students. Photo by Lindsey Sandri.

The 4+1 program has seen students in film, teaching programs, health science, as well as people changing career paths or beginning entrepreneurship ones.

“So this MBA degree is going to be able to get you into a variety of organizations but what it brings you is diversity in terms of familiarity with all sides of businesses. You get all these areas that will kind of culminate from the curriculum and then from there you can chose your path. Take what you’ve learned holistically and focus it if you feel that’s the area for you. It’s a very versatile degree,” she said.

Because a student would complete 10 credits while finishing their senior year of undergraduate studies, there is a cost savings benefit for the Integrated program.

“So a lot of students don’t understand that aspect of it, that you are saving a little bit of money verses if you would graduate from here, take time off, work and then come back,” Healey said.

There is a cost savings of around 10 credits because the senior year courses are included in the student’s Chapman tuition. For the year of graduate school classes after that, the student is required to cover the cost of 40 credits, which would not be supplemented by a student’s financial aid package from Chapman that they might have received at the undergraduate level.

According to Healey, one of the challenges and something to consider is the lack of work experience a student would be going into the work force with.

“So a lot of times we have students that think, ‘well I’ll have my MBA degree, therefore I will jump the pay scale.’ No, because you don’t have that work experience on your resume,” Healey said.

She added that a student’s desired profession valued work experience more the level of education, the program might not be the right fit.

“Students don’t have that work experience and so the length of time to look for a job and to earn a decent salary can take a little more time,” Healey said. “It’s important to make sure it’s right for the student.”

For Brashear, the Integrated program has definitely been the right choice for her to give her the extra push for law school in the future.

“I’m glad I did it,” Brashear said. “I love being challenged to work harder and think deeper.

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