A program designed to help graduate students adapt to the business world is a growing interest at Bellevue University.

The Master of Professional Studies program was created in 2015 for graduate students to create an individualized learning plan for successful careers.

Michelle Eppler, dean of the College of Continuing and Professional Education, said the program is geared toward to two populations: graduate students stuck in a major they dislike, and graduate students who can’t decide which major is the right fit.

“This program allows you to put things together based on what you need,” Eppler said.

Students are able to transfer up to 12 credit hours they’ve earned from another program, then can take the rest of the degree requirements online or in-class.

At the beginning of the MPS program, students create an individualized plan and meet with their graduate admissions counselor to go over their goals.

“You put those three goals together and then you take a look at your graduate catalog,” Eppler said. “You put them together and we help you with prerequisites to make sure you have everything and we put together a degree plan.”

Students need 30 required credits to complete the program, and are required to take three MPS classes taught by Eppler and to complete an e-portfolio.

“The goal of this is to make sure that within these classes, I’m making sure that you get a holistic experience of what is expected of a graduate student to have,” she said. “No matter how creative you get, I’m still making sure we have all those touch points that standards have set amongst higher ed of what a graduate students should have.”

The three six-week long, required courses are crucial because they demonstrate how to set up an e-portfolio that will be necessary in a student’s career, Eppler said.

“It helps demonstrate with artifacts from the course they’re taking that they accomplished their goals,” Eppler said. “Not only for themselves, but if they come across somebody who questions, ‘It’s great you have a master’s degree, but I don’t know what master’s in professional studies is,’ their portfolio is able to demonstrate, here’s not only what I know, but what I can do with the knowledge.”

Eppler said the degree has helped many students “invest in themselves.”

“They’re growing and coming and leaving me fast, but it’s fun to see all the different things they end up doing and learning,” she said.

At the end of the program, Eppler and the student have an exit interview to talk about their successes, e-portfolios and impact of the program.

“A lot of students upon graduation are getting a raise or getting promoted and they’re getting the job that they want,” she said. “This is part of the reason why they created their own plans, because they had that goal, and so it’s great to see them actually finish and complete their goals.”

Though the program has been successful so far for Eppler, she said she’s excited to see it grow.

“I just know that there are a lot of folks out there that started their master’s degree and, just like what happens with a bachelor’s, life gets in the way,” she said.

Eppler said the individualized learning is unique to BU, and ties in with the university’s emphasis on real learning for real life.

“The knowledge is important at the higher level, but we also want to make sure that they are able to do something with it that will be able to prove it to their employers,” she said. “Seeing people actually accomplish those dreams and make it happen, there’s no dollar value on that.”


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