Several dual degree options are available between Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) and other disciplines. At Virginia Tech they are called “simultaneous” degrees because students earn them simultaneously. Presently, simultaneous degrees exist between the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) and Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA), Master of Public Administration (MPA), and Master of Natural Resources (MNR) degrees.
Many professions and advanced nonprofessional studies are intertwined in numerous ways. Very few persons achieve professional competence in more than one field. Many positions in allied professions especially among those represented within the College can best be filled by persons who possess the knowledge and skills of multiple fields. Those who master core material in more than one field acquire the flexibility to engage in a wide range of activities within multiple fields and become bridge-builders between them. Many rise to leadership positions because of their multi-disciplinary perspective.
The success of the simultaneous degree program is in the effective coordination of course requirements in two fields that assures the integrity of each while also saving time and cost to the student. This coordination may consist in the effective sharing of electives and/or substitution for one field of significantly relevant courses from another. It is not driven by arbitrary or mechanical reduction of course requirements just for the sake of saving of time and cost, however, which would compromise the integrity of both degrees. Reduction of credit requirements by virtue of substitution is based on the significant relevance of the courses to the program for which they are being accepted. Significant relevance is indicated by the close relationship of content, complementary between the fields, methodological relevance, and other criteria of intellectual relevance.
As a general proposition, the integrity of each field is assured when students master the core material in each, and choose electives that integrate understanding of each. At Virginia Tech, the minimum requirement for a masters degree is 30 credit hours and the minimum requirement for two is twice this, less six credit hours for a total of 54 credit hours. The Graduate School has indicated it will award dual masters degrees for a minimum of 54 credit hours provided the core material for each degree has been mastered and there is a capstone product for each (that is, not one product meeting capstone requirements of both degrees). Individual colleges are free to supplement these minimums for a variety of reasons especially when related to accreditation.
Administration of simultaneous degree program will be provided as follows:
Conceptual programs of study for the simultaneous degrees are outlined below. It should be recognized that there needs to be some flexibility accorded individual students seeking simultaneous degrees based on their backgrounds and needs reflected through individualized programs of study.
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