Austin College and Texas Tech University signed memorandums of understanding today (October 17) to solidify agreements that will allow Austin College students to “fast track” a master’s degree in Mass Communications from Texas Tech, with Texas Tech faculty conducting graduate courses on Austin College campus.
Courses taken as part of the graduate curriculum, or as leveling courses for that curriculum, can be counted toward both the student’s undergraduate degree at Austin College and the student’s graduate degree at Texas Tech. Thus, when the student graduates from Austin College, he or she will have completed some of the coursework required for a graduate degree at Texas Tech.
“This innovative partnership between Austin College and Texas Tech University, two of the finest institutions in Texas, ushers in a new era of collaboration in higher education,” said Austin College President Steven O’Day. “Bringing together, in one place, the extraordinary Austin College undergraduate experience with a top-quality graduate degree from Texas Tech University is a concept that speaks to the needs of today’s students in Texas and around the nation. The opportunity for students to pursue this educational pathway in an uninterrupted and accelerated fashion makes this truly remarkable and valuable. We are excited to be on the leading edge of higher education innovation with our friends at Texas Tech and are already looking forward to exploring new program offerings in the future.”
Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec said the two schools share common visions and strategic plans, critical in making partnerships like this one. “Students in this program will have access to resources on the Austin College campus and the shared expertise of faculty and staff from both institutions who also share the common vision of enhancing opportunities for students and addressing the educational needs of the region,” he said. “This partnership with Austin College will afford students at this outstanding college and in the surrounding area the opportunity to pursue a graduate degree from Texas Tech University.”
The facilities agreement allows Texas Tech graduate courses to be conducted on the Austin College campus, effectively establishing a regional teaching site in Sherman. It also lays out the parameters and responsibilities by each institution for office space, infrastructure, and classroom usage.
Currently, three master’s degree programs are in the works to be offered at Austin College: technical communication and public administration, through the College of Arts & Sciences, and mass communication through the College of Media & Communication. An MBA program may be established at a later date.
“This agreement builds upon Austin College’s ongoing relationship with Texas Tech by creating additional graduate pathways for qualified Austin College students and alumni to enroll in and graduate from high-quality Texas Tech graduate programs,” said Beth Gill, Austin College vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the faculty. “Students will have the opportunity to accelerate both the undergraduate and graduate degrees, often without leaving campus. The first program slated for implementation will allow Texas Tech to offer a Master of Arts in mass communications on our campus, providing our students with a seamless continuum of opportunities to further ensure their future success.”
Enthusiastic responses from Christopher Huckabee, chair of the Texas Tech Board of Regents, and Becky Sykes, vice chair of the Austin College Board of Trustees, ended the ceremony as the presidents signed the academic and facilities agreements and shook hands to seal the deal.
A brand new program, many details are still to be determined. As available, they will be posted to the Austin College website.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 50 percent of students identifying as persons of color. The residential student body of approximately 1,300 students and more than 100 expert faculty members allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. This year, the campus recognizes 100 years of co-education and has had several opportunities to recognize the history of women and accomplishments of current alumnae. Austin College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.