Students find LAS dual degree application lengthy, ‘involved’

By Bridget Maiellaro

Ian Treviranus graduated in spring 2005 from the College of Engineering with a degree in electrical engineering. While attending the University, Treviranus attempted to get a dual degree in chemistry from LAS. He spoke with both colleges and he was told he needed to join the Engineering and LAS five-year combined program.

“The Dean (of engineering) seemed to think it wasn’t a big deal,” Treviranus said. “He just said to keep taking the classes that I needed.”

Treviranus also began making his tuition payments to LAS, with the impression that it would grant him residency within the college, one of the requirements.

Toward the end of his junior year, however, he was informed that he was unable to get his LAS degree. Lucy Rich, senior assistant dean of LAS, told him he was unable to register as a dual degree for electrical engineering and chemistry, Treviranus said.

“For years, I had done what they wanted and I couldn’t get into the program,” he said. “I took all of those classes with nothing to show for it. The process was very confusing. I was not happy. (Rich) had no sympathy for me.”

Rich said LAS only accepts students who apply if their second major will benefit them in the future.

“We have never told anyone they couldn’t do it,” Rich said. “It is an individual decision for each student based on whether or not they want to proceed with the process. If one goes by example, roughly 60 percent who expressed interest actually finished (the petition process for the dual degree).”

Anil D’Souza, junior in engineering, is one of the many students who applied for a dual degree and was accepted. He is currently working towards majors in nuclear, plasma and radiological engineering and biochemistry.

“There is a large force working in both biology and in engineering but sometimes it’s hard to find a common ground necessary to certain types of research,” D’Souza said. “By obtaining a degree in both fields I would be able to bridge the gap.”

D’Souza decided that he wanted to get a dual degree during the spring semester of his freshman year. He petitioned for biochemistry in fall 2005.

“The petition process was long and involved,” he said. “They really want you to work for the degree in order to ensure you’re completing it for the right reasons.”

Students who choose to apply for a dual degree in LAS must follow a specific process to ensure that the second degree is right for them, Rich said.

“The degree program is carefully thought out in advance, so students aren’t just taking a collection of courses,” said Mary Macmanus Ramsbottom, associate dean of LAS.

First, the applicant must fill out a petition packet, which is available in 270 Lincoln Hall. The packets include guidelines that the student must adhere to, a “Student Request for Second Degree” form, a list of rules and procedures, and a “Second Degree Planning Form.”

Written petitions must include an explanation for how a second degree is needed to achieve certain educational or career goals and how work in the second degree will be integrated with work toward a first degree, according to the “Student Request for Second Degree” form.

“Students should read through the petition form first, so that they will be able to think through the reasons and articulate why both degrees will be beneficial,” Rich said.

Secondly, in order to obtain a dual degree, a student must complete all of the requirements specified for the additional degree and an additional 30 hours over those required for the first degree.

During the process, students must meet with advisers in each of the planned majors to determine appropriate classes and to review how the second major will aid in achieving the individual’s goals.

“Make sure you talk to an adviser in both departments so you can discuss the feasibility of the second degree,” said D’Souza. “You don’t want to find yourself unable to complete it after putting in the work.”

Submissions of application materials do not ensure admission to a second-degree program in LAS, according to the petition packet. However, students whose petitions have been denied are able to submit additional information if they feel it will change the department advisers’ minds, Rich said.