The economics department is one step closer to offering a new self-supported graduate program ““ the first of its kind within the College of Letters and Science.
The Faculty Executive Committee for the College of Letters and Science, which is mainly responsible for structuring the school’s curriculum, approved the department’s proposal for a new master’s program at Friday’s meeting. The program must be approved by University of California President Mark Yudof before it can be offered at UCLA.
Self-supporting programs do not receive money from the state; instead, they generate their own funds through student tuition fees and possibly other means, including fundraising and donations. The economics department plans to pay for the new program, named Applied Economics, through student fees, said Chairman Roger E. A. Farmer of the economics department.
If approved, the program will be located on campus, and will target working professionals who want to stay up-to-date on economic practices, said chairman Farmer. Officials also hope to attract a large number of international students, he added.
Although this is the first time a proposal within the College of Letters and Science has been approved by the Faculty Executive Committee, it is not the first time a department has applied for a self-supportive program, said Kyle McJunkin, director of Curriculum Coordination and Operations at UCLA.
In 2010, the statistics department also sent a proposal for review by the faculty committee, McJunkin said. The draft was rejected, however, and is currently being revised.
Other professional programs at different schools within UCLA have also received self-supportive status, McJunkin said, including the Master of Business Administration program at Anderson, and most recently a post-graduate architecture program under UCLA’s Architecture and Urban Design Department.
The push to offer a master’s program in applied economics came from demand within the department to serve the students and working professionals who wanted a graduate program, Farmer said. Currently, it is only possible to apply for a doctorate program, he added.
In order for a program to be approved for self-supporting status at UCLA, it must primarily serve “non-traditional” students ““ such as working employees, mid-career professionals and international students, according to a list of criteria from the graduate council.
The alternative means for funding will allow the economics program to generate more money than would be otherwise available through the state, said McJunkin.
“If successful, (the program) is actually going to make money,” McJunkin said. “The department can then capture more of that revenue for other uses, like hiring more faculty or providing for more graduate student support.”
He added that the master’s program would have access to outside resources by contacting the colleagues and management of working employees expected to enroll ““ including their employers and field-based lecturers.
At its meeting Friday, the faculty committee listed potential concerns they have about the economics program’s future, said Chairwoman Linda Sarna of UCLA’s Academic Senate.
The committee’s concerns include a possible lack of diversity within the program because of the department’s plan to enroll a large number of international students, a memo from Friday’s meeting stated. The memo also expressed concerns about the effect the program will have on faculty resources, and the program maintaining a developed focus and achieving a certain degree of success.
The Graduate Council, a subcommittee of the University of California Academic Senate, is currently reviewing the proposal and hopes to come to a decision by spring 2013, said Sarna. If the council passes the proposal, it will then undergo a last round of review by the Academic Senate.
After the final comprehensive review, the proposal will then be sent to UC President Mark Yudof.
The graduate council will continue to evaluate the program once it is implemented, conducting another review three years after it is first offered, McJunkin said.
It is likely that in the near future, other departments at UCLA may also consider either offering a new self-supportive program or converting an existing professional program to this status, Sarna said.
“Because of the very challenging budgetary times, when state support for the university has fallen very low, all departments and schools are encouraged to find strategies for getting more funding, with one of the options being self-supportive program.”