Three new graduate programs may soon be added to the Mills curriculum to increase graduate enrollment as part of the college’s strategic plan.
Infant mental health, a 4+1 mathematics master’s, and a master’s degree bridge in psychology are the three possible graduate programs.
Both the mathematics master’s and the master’s bridge in psychology were first presented in 1995 as a response to the Graduate Initiative, to increase the graduate programs at Mills. All three programs share the common goal of creating graduate courses that build off already existing undergraduate programs. These programs are intended to serve as magnets in attracting and retaining strong undergraduate students, especially entering first-year students, said Carol George, dean of natural sciences and math.
The psychology master’s, according to George, is intended “to develop a master’s degree program in experimental [research] psychology that Mills students will use as the bridge that is increasingly useful for students to enter advanced degree programs.”
Formally introduced for the first time this school year, the master’s degree in infant mental health, “would offer an organized program of study including credential and would prepare Mills students for research or clinical careers in the fields that emphasize infant and family development,” said George.
Professors are hoping the program may serve as a lead into other advanced programs and licensing in fields that work with families such as clinical psychology, social work, or psychiatry.
Lastly, the mathematics master’s will offer an integrated undergraduate/graduate course of studies in mathematics and would allow undergraduates in the field to obtain a master’s by studying at Mills for one additional year.
According to Marianne B. Sheldon, associate provost and head of graduate studies, the 4+1 MBA program, which was built upon a strong undergraduate base, is seen by many faculty as a successful model for future graduate programs.
This was further stressed by George, who said that “there is a trend in colleges and universities across the country to streamline master’s degree programs so that they intersect more fully with the bachelor’s degree programs.”
There is an emphasis on undergraduate and graduate programs that will prepare women in areas where women are under-represented in the colleges strategic plan. This is why Mills has been engaged for some time now in promoting the sciences according to George.
Currently, however, there is only one graduate program in the sciences, the pre-med post-bac certification. “It’s very limited but when you look at other programs there is really only eight areas of graduate studies at Mills, and actually only seven have degrees,” said Ron Clemens associate director of graduate studies.
Sheldon said that the interest in graduate programs is being pursued in light of the colleges undergraduate mission and therefore an increased interest in graduate studies does not mean that the college has forsaken its undergraduate studies. It simply means that the college is building up programs that have already proven successful.
The college, she said, is interested only in programs “where we are able to provide some special experience that a larger college can’t. Where faculty work very closely with students.”
Many faculty and staff are excited about the possible implementation of these programs, which could help bring more students to Mills and would allow Mills women more graduate studies opportunities.
Sally Randel, vice president of institutional advancement, said that “the development of a credential in infant mental health would be a pioneering program that would initiate a model for how these programs take place in the world.”
According to George, the Master’s in Math is “ready to go, contingent on approvals of the various committees and faculty.” While the master’s in psychology and infant mental health both need additional faculty and approval by committees. Once the curriculum is voted on by faculty, if passed, it will be presented to the board of trustees for a final decision on the granting of degrees.
“I think it’s pretty likely that at least two of the three will go forward. They are being developed by faculty who know about student interest,” said Randel.
Funding on the proposed programs, will be a major factor in the approval process of the proposed degrees. But is not yet known because proposals have not reached their final planning stages. Typically, however, a new program is integrated into the budget of an existing program, said George.
“Obviously its a question of resources and resources at a time when budget cuts are occurring is a challenge,” said Sheldon.
According to Randel, expenses for these new programs depends on whether current faculty can teach the necessary courses and whether Mills can secure monetary gifts for them.
All three programs were introduced to the board of trustees last week by George and are part of a plan entitled, “Opportunities for Women in Science” which includes a total of five graduate program proposals from the Natural Science and Math division that serve as the contribution to the fulfillment of the academic portion of the strategic plan.
According to Provost Mary-Ann Milford, the programs as a whole were well received by the trustees.
As of yet, the programs are still in the planning stage, and students are encouraged by the natural sciences and math division to voice any interest in the proposals to the division.