Earlier this summer, NYU’s School of Professional Studies announced it would restructure its Paul McGhee Division, which incorporates liberal arts into professional studies, to primarily grant two-year associate degrees. Due to the change, the school laid off 10 professors.
Associate Dean of SPS’s McGhee Undergraduate Division Billie Gastic said via email that the division is focused on giving students an accessible and affordable education through both the associate and bachelor’s degrees. She said that, to provide each student enrolling in these degree programs with the best opportunity to complete his or her degree, the admissions criteria for bachelor’s degrees in the McGhee Division of SPS have been adjusted.
Gastic also said students applying for a bachelor’s degree through McGhee will now have to have completed an associate degree or at least 60 transferable credits of undergraduate study.
“This will better equip those entering these programs to be able to benefit from their rigor and to successfully complete their studies,” Gastic said.
Gastic said students who do not meet the associate degree or 60 transferable credits requirement can now benefit from associate degrees, which have recently decreased in price. McGhee’s website will be updated to reflect these changes after Labor Day.
According to the McGhee division’s website, each of the four associate degrees offered before the 2017-18 school year require 60-62 credits to complete. Assuming students took 4-12 credits per semester, completing the degree program could cost students anywhere between $70,876.33-$82,380 total in tuition during the 2016-2017 academic year.
“These degrees now provide an affordable alternative to local community colleges, making a world-class education more affordable to those who might not previously have been able to pursue this type of opportunity,” Gastic said. “They also afford students in the associate degree programs the option to apply to seamlessly continue their education in the division’s bachelor’s degree programs, rather than having to struggle with transferring credits from other institutions of higher learning.”
Structurally, Gastic said the curriculum for the division’s bachelors and associate degrees have not majorly changed. She said during the last six months, McGhee has worked to ensure that all courses, regardless of discipline, allow students to apply what they learn to the outside world.
“Our programs offer a solid grounding in the knowledge and the skill sets that provide the most competitive advantage for our students,” Gastic said. “None of the associate or bachelor’s degrees have been eliminated, and students currently enrolled in those programs will in no way be interrupted in earning their degree.”
While the school aims for these changes to benefit students, some members of the class of 2021 are unsure of how they will positively affect their education.
Incoming SPS freshman Melvin Nguyen said he knows the firing of 10 McGhee professors does not directly affect him, as he is studying Hospitality and Tourism Management in SPS. However, he said he is worried abou the future of other divisions at SPS.
“In all honesty, the school is small enough and unknown to many students,” Nguyen said. “I don’t understand how the school expects to give the students a proper education if they are letting go of dedicated and knowledgeable professors. The divisions at SPS are interconnected and students can often take classes from various professors outside their major — who knows what kind of amazing education and experiences me or any other student at SPS could have received from those fired professors.”
Nguyen said SPS students come to NYU believing they will receive the best education possible considering the price they pay for tuition, room and board. He said with these changes to the program, he does not know what to expect anymore.
“I am scared this might turn into a domino effect where eventually all divisions of SPS are going to be cut down and revamped, and this not what I came here for,” Nguyen said. “I can’t wrap my head around the idea of how letting go educators somehow helps students further their education. If I am going to [be] frank, it sounds like the school is trying to pinch a penny.”
Incoming SPS freshman Rachel Kim said after learning about the changes to the McGhee division, her perception of NYU’s ability to give her a good education has been slightly altered. She said it is important for her to be well-prepared to enter the real career world, whether it be through a bachelor’s or associate degree, and these new changes are causing her to question if she will be prepared enough.
“If I was to choose to earn the associate degree, I would like to solemnly put my time into studying for my specific field because that’s what the associate degree is meant for,” Kim said. “However, if liberal arts is infused into the program in the same time span, I would choose to earn the bachelor’s degree in order to get 100 percent of the general education and 100 percent of the study for my major.”
Despite some misgivings about the changes, Gastic believes they will be a win-win for students entering both McGhee’s associate and bachelor’s degree programs.
“We are confident that these adjustments will ultimately provide a better experience for our students while they are studying with us and will result in the strongest possible outcomes beyond graduation,” Gastic said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article referred to Billie Gastic as “he” instead of “she.” The article has been updated to reflect this correction.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 5 print edition. Email Natasha Roy at [email protected]