Bright Futures & Direct Entry & 3/2 Programs

Dear UnMazed,

My son will be majoring in Architecture. Some of the schools like FAU offer a Bachelor of Architecture, whereas USF offers a Master of Architecture with no option to earn a BA. Each of these are a professional degree. If I am understanding online info correctly, both these schools charge graduate tuition after 60 credit hours, even though my son would still be an undergrad.

UCF and UF offer a Bachelors degree in Architecture which is a non-professional degree, meaning he must go on to pursue a Masters.

So my concern is since he has earned the FAS Award will he pay more attending FAU or USF's program vs getting his BA and then going to get his Masters. I keep crunching numbers but I am lost.

Dear Michele,

First of all, what great news for your son to have so many options! What you are finding is that many universities are starting to package programs with both a bachelors degree and a masters degree, meaning students are leaving after 4 or 5 years with both degrees. In this case, they are calling it a “professional degree”, but the premise is the same- while working on your upper division bachelors courses you are working on your masters simultaneously. The other bonus to such a program is that students are often “guaranteed” a spot into a masters degree program upon entering into these professional tracks. So instead of worrying about additional testing, applying to highly competitive masters degree programs, they can (with keeping their academics up and passing any necessary pre-professional tests) enter into a program without the worry or hassle of finding a new program or university between their two degrees.

Direct Entry & 3/2 Programs

Many universities provide “Direct Entry” or “Accelerated” programs that often bypass a highly competitive “limited access” program. For example, even though students are accepted into the University of South Florida (just an example) and wishing to major in nursing, students have to APPLY for a limited access program. Out of 500 applicants, maybe there is only 100 spots… so 400 students that are USF students may simply not get in and have to find other degree programs or transfer somewhere else. Schools like Florida Southern College, Nova Southeastern University, Stetson (4+3 Bachelor’s/ JD) , Florida State University (a host of combined pathways) are quickly getting on this bandwagon. I have found top tier schools offering Direct Entry MD programs as well! For many families it is a great way to plan for the future!

Bright Futures

Bright Futures- So your question goes along with Bright Futures. Bright Futures will fund up to 5 years for maximum number of 120 credits. If your student graduates earlier from a program (under 4 years and with 105 semester hours or less) because of maybe accelerated credit they brought in (Dual Enrollment, IB, AICE, AP), then Bright Futures will cover up to 15 credits of graduate level courses but at the undergraduate level. In Chapter 2 of the Bright Futures information they do clearly state that it does include 3/2 programs, such as the programs you are discussing. The clear distinction here is that they will pay, but it will be at the normal undergraduate level tuition cost.

Making the Decision

If your son decides to go to a program that does NOT have the 3/2, on top of having to apply to graduate programs, possibly move and transition to another university, he would be paying for full graduate credit at wherever he goes. If he chooses this type of professional degree program, then at least half of his tuition costs are covered without moving expenses by Bright Futures and possible other institutional scholarships and financial aid.

For me, the decision would come down to placement rate and his academic success… So the questions I would ask are 1), “If my son graduates from this university with this degree, what is the likelihood of him going on to graduate school or getting a job right out of college?” (that’s placement rate- very important!!). With any limited access program or graduate programs, he has to be top in his academic class to be competitive. so my next question would be, 2) “If he attends XYZ University, will he be academically successful?”

My biggest suggestion- before making the decision, talk to the Financial Aid office at the school to finalize all numbers and do another round of college visits to speak directly with the programs to answer the questions above.

I hope that helps shed some light!

Dr. Sterk

UnMazed Senior Editor