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Dream Job 

Lindsay Wiginton found her dream job in study abroad while continuing to work on a master's in Spanish in the combined BA/MA program. (Photo by Mark Schmidt) 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 18, 2016) – Lindsay Wiginton couldn’t be happier.

The Utica native graduated in May and is working on her master’s in Spanish through UAlbany’s combined BA/MA program. A study abroad program coordinator in the Office of Education Abroad, she has been working full-time for a year while going to school. She started taking graduate courses as a junior and was able to count 12 credits toward both her BA and MA degrees.

“Because I was able to take graduate courses earlier on in my undergraduate career, I’m able to take fewer courses, which allows me to work full time instead of part time,” she said.

“If I hadn’t done this accelerated program, it’s likely that I would have had to take more classes per semester, and would not have been eligible for my current full-time job, which I love! In short, this program has allowed me to start working in my dream job over a year earlier than I would have been able to had I not chosen this accelerated program,” Wiginton said.

Since the selective BA/MA program requires at least a 3.2 GPA and the student must be currently pursuing a Spanish BA degree at UAlbany, not everyone qualifies. In addition, students must be able to handle 500-level (MA) coursework in Spanish as they approach junior year. They also need to have decided they want to earn an MA in Spanish.

There are two accelerated programs in Spanish. In addition to the combined BA/MA program, there is a one-year accelerated MA program. The regular MA program takes two years to complete.

Wiginton originally wanted to study at Ithaca, but then she found out UAlbany has a “fantastic Language, Literatures and Cultures department with several highly regarded professors.”

While she wanted to go to a medium-large sized school, she wanted professors to know her by name.

“I got exactly that with the Spanish department. All of my professors have shown great interest in my academic career and have guided me through the last four, going on five years,” said Wiginton, who also studied abroad in Chile and Ecuador. After this experience, she knew that working in the field of study abroad would allow her to share her love for Spanish-speaking countries with others.

Study abroad participants often ask her questions about Latin American or Spanish history and culture, or they ask her how to say certain things in Spanish once they arrive at their host family’s home.

“It’s because of my BA/MA program that I’m able to answer my students in such detail,” she said.

“I can’t recommend this program enough,” Wiginton said. “I want all students to know exactly how much time and money this program will save them. This is such a unique opportunity that not many universities offer their students. I want students to know that they will thank themselves over and over for doing this program – how many people have the opportunity to get a master’s degree in just one year? One year is so quick.”

The combined BA/MA program has been active for more than 15 years. A second MA program option – the real innovation - is the accelerated one-year MA. The accelerated program began four years ago and is aimed mainly at students who already have a bachelor’s degree in Spanish.

According to Prof. Maurice Westmoreland, chair of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, “It was important to us not to diminish the value of what our MA degree represented, to offer students a graduate degree option that would save them time and money, and not require additional resources.” The director of Spanish programs, currently Professor Ilka Kressner, oversees the accelerated programs.

Within the accelerated one-year MA program, there is a summer study abroad option for up to six credits of graduate coursework either in Madrid or in San Jose, Costa Rica. Relatively few graduate programs offer study abroad opportunities as an established credit option within their degrees.

To apply for the BA/MA program, UAlbany students with a 3.2 GPA should contact a Spanish faculty member regarding the process no later than second semester of their junior year. Those applying to the accelerated one-year Spanish MA program apply to the Spanish MA through the Office of Graduate Studies, and later inform the Spanish program director of their desire to finish in one year.

More information is available on the Spanish program web page.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.