YU Makes A New Push to Attract Undergraduate Students with Joint BA/MA Degrees and Master's Programs

By: Mindy Schwartz  |  October 19, 2017

Yeshiva University is unveiling a number of new graduate programs in the coming years. In fall 2018, the Katz School of Graduate Studies alone will open three new programs: an MS in Data Analytics & Visualization, an MS in Enterprise Risk Management, and–pending approval from the American Bar Association–an MS in Data Law and Privacy in partnership with Cardozo Law School. Sy Syms School of Business will also be offering an MS in Taxation and, in partnership with Katz, an online degree in marketing

An MS in biotechnology from Katz, as well as an MS in marriage counseling from Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, are also currently undergoing review for approval by New York State education officials. Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education is also developing a program specifically tailored to those who work as directors and high-level staff in summer camps and programs.

A new position, Executive Director of Graduate Enrollment Management, was even created to facilitate enrollment in all of YU’s ever-expanding graduate schools. The new position will be filled by Christine Sneva.

The expansion of graduate offerings seem to demonstrate, as Provost Dr. Sema Botman said in an interview with The Observer, that YU is “a university on the move.” But they are also part of a larger undergraduate recruitment strategy that administrators hope will set YU apart from other universities to prospective students and their parents.  

Botman told The Observer that YU is in the process of creating “Pathway Programs” which will enable students to enroll in some of its many master’s programs as bachelor’s students. The goal is to offer students the option of streamlining their education so that they can attain an advanced degree in a shorter time period of time.

According to Botman, the Wurzweiler Graduate School of Social Work will soon have a Pathway Program so that students looking to pursue social work can receive a BA/MSW.

Botman is confident that such an option will set YU apart and draw undergraduates to the university. In  the current workforce in which a bachelor’s degree is rarely sufficient to ensure someone a solid, white collar job in most fields, YU plans to use their Pathway Programs as a selling point. “Now that a master’s is the bachelor’s,” Botman said, “we want our graduate programs to serve as an incentive to come to YU [for undergrad].”

Botman noted that the option to receive a BA/MA degree is “not really on the minds of students” applying to college, who usually “just want to focus on finishing one degree” and not on “starting the next one.” But she pointed out that the Pathway Program can attract parents of prospective students “who are thinking about these things long term and can see the advantage” of this kind of program.

Sneva emphasized that “it is a priority for all of YU’s graduate programs to connect with YU’s undergraduate students.” Sneva said that this Spring Semester there will be a series of on-campus and online information sessions for current YU undergraduates, where they can learn about all of the University’s graduate programs. She also announced that “YU alumni will have access to a streamlined alumni application starting November 1, 2017,” as “a start” in reaching YU graduates and undergraduates for enrollment in YU’s graduate school’s.

While a joint BA/MA degree option has long been available for students seeking to pursue a masters as Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, it is only in recent years that the policy has been expanded to other YU graduate schools, including the certain programs at the Katz School.

For example courses in the Katz School’s Masters in Quantitative Economics have been open to undergraduates seeking a joint BA/MA since the program’s inception in 2012. The director the program, Dr. Alessandro Citanna, told The Observer that a number of “Yeshiva College students benefitted from the BA/MA option, taking up to 12 credits during their undergraduate education.”

In addition to a streamlined Pathway Program for obtaining a graduate degree, certain scholarships for YU undergraduates are also being considered for certain Master’s programs as a further incentive for prospective undergraduates.

For example, according to Dr. Citanna “a full tuition discount” was available for qualified YU graduates enrolled in the Masters in Quantitative Economics either full or part time. He pointed out that students who had enrolled in the joint BA/MA program could finish their graduate studies for “typically only an extra semester, at very favorable tuition rates.” However such students rarely chose to do so. Currently the program is filled mostly by Chinese students studying abroad. This year 31 of the 32 students are Chinese, and the program even has a recruiter in China to continue this robust international enrollment. But while Botman was very proud of the program’s success she also said that she “wish[es] our own students would enroll in the program too.” Presumably, one larger goal of the Pathway Programs will be to advertise such opportunities to prospective students so that more YU students will take advantage of them in the future.

Joint degree programs in Computer Science with Hebrew University and Bar Ilan were also announced by President Berman in his  September 10th investiture speech, the details of which Botman said are currently being discussed amongst each of the school’s’ department heads. The programs would allow students with a bachelor’s in computer science from YU to pursue a Master’s in the same field at Bar Ilan or Hebrew University.  A cooperating degree with Tel-Aviv University in electrical engineering was also recently announced, which would allow YU students to complete their bachelor’s degree at Tel Aviv University’s School of Electrical Engineering. Allowing qualifying students to pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees in prodigious Israeli universities would certainly be another draw for undergraduates looking to enter those fields.

While Botman is confident, only the enrollment figures will be able to tell if the new recruitment strategy will be effective at bringing more undergraduates to YU.