Save time and money earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in only 4 years at SMWC

October 23rd, 2012 | SMWC

two students in computer lab

3+1 students earn their bachelor’s in accounting, business administration, human resource management or marketing and their Master of Leadership Development in four years.

Imagine walking down the aisle at graduation and receiving two degrees at once. Holding a bachelor’s degree in one hand, you accept your master’s with the other. Now imagine doing all of this in only four years. Set to launch in fall 2013, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College’s (SMWC) new 3+1 Leadership Development program focuses on the rapidly changing business world by combining comprehensive business, technology and leadership skills. Graduating with greater knowledge and more experience in less time creates more marketable graduates, ready to make a positive difference in any organization.

“This is a pivotal opportunity that will focus on leadership, entrepreneurship, technology and team projects,” explained Jennie Mitchell, Ph.D., SMWC professor of business and one of the program creators. 3+1 is an accelerated program combining three years of undergraduate study in accounting, business administration, human resource management or marketing, with one year in the College’s distinguished Master of Leadership Development (MLD) program.

“Employers recognize that an MLD graduate brings something different, something innovative, to the table,” MLD Director and SMWC Associate Professor Susan Decker said. “Using specialized techniques and creative leadership, our graduates stand out from the MBA group.”

This highly selective program is geared toward students excited by challenging academic opportunities. 3+1 combines SMWC’s rigorous honors curriculum with a digital emphasis, so students can develop team-building skills and technological expertise that will solve real-world problems. Undergraduate students will collaborate with full-time business faculty, most of whom have owned or currently own their own businesses. They will also have access to exclusive internships and supplemental learning opportunities, as well as workshops with current MLD students.

“Our MLD students, coming from renowned national organizations like Eli Lilly and General Electric, are already accomplished professionals in their fields,” Decker said. “Through their skills, expertise and experiences, they will provide unique guidance and encouragement to the 3+1 students.” Intertwining leadership, technology and liberal arts, 3+1 allows students to discover and develop their own unique strengths.

“Leadership is built on team playing,” remarked Mitchell. “It is not about the loudest voice in the room. It is important to find individual talents in the team and create synergy.” The benefits of the program start from day one. Students will save time and money, as well as graduate with honors. Then they will transition seamlessly, without needing scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), into MLD, where they can focus on not-for-profit leadership, organizational leadership, financial leadership or an individualized path.

Entering the job market sooner, 3+1 graduates will have the ability to inspire others and handle the pressures of the fast-paced business world. “Most students take an average of seven years to complete both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees,” Decker said. “But, by utilizing SMWC’s innovative online format and challenging honors curriculum, these students will finish both degrees in only four years. We're one of only a handful of colleges out there that can provide a high-quality education in a fast-paced format.”

The planning and implementation of SMWC’s 3+1 Leadership Development program was funded by a $25,000 grant from the Independent Colleges of Indiana Ball Venture Fund, the third grant SMWC has received from the organization in four years. In 2009, a Ball Venture grant funded the startup of the College’s virtual academic support team, and in 2010 the grant helped form the virtual social media marketing internship.

Nicole Coutlangus, Woods Online English major, contributed to this article.

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