Confession: I initially began my graduate career at Western because it was convenient. It was close to my home for an easy commute and I had already completed my undergraduate program here so I was familiar with the campus, the programs, and the faculty. This convenience has served me well. From night classes to weekend workshops, online classes and hybrid classes, the familiarity and flexibility of available courses enabled me to complete my requirements with a minimal interruption to my already busy life being a wife, mom, music therapist, etc.
While I always understood that an education from WMU was one of quality and substance I had not thought much outside my own little world, nor had I investigated what happened in other places at the university. Becoming a Graduate Student Ambassador this year has pushed me out into areas of Western that I hadn’t explored or imagined. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised at what I found, my own program is consistently one of the best in the nation and the School of Music has awards and accolades too numerous to contain in a simple blog entry. Nonetheless it was a revelation to me as I began to research and interact with the various programs assigned to me, that Western Michigan University has much to proclaim and promote when it comes to excellence in graduate education.
Here are just a few of the highlights:
From the Comparative Religion Department: The program has a strong pedagogy focus, consistently reported as highly favorable by graduating students, preparing them for the competitive PhD arena and for teaching beyond graduation. The WMU Comparative Religion program is also the only US program with an online certification program, The Spirituality, Culture, and Health program.
From the Philosophy Department: This program receives about 70-80 applications a year and currently fields an extremely competitive department nationwide. The MA program is a stand-alone program and is a unique and elite program relative to other universities. It consistently receives high honors and accolades in the philosophy and academic community. For students seeking a master’s degree in philosophy, this program can provide distinct advantages when seeking to attain the next step in the educational process. Western’s philosophy majors consistently receive paid assignments in the highly competitive PhD community; and the department boasts a nearly 100% placement ratio for their graduates that go on to pursue further education.
From the Spanish Department: WMU’s Spanish program has exciting opportunities in study abroad. We do an exchange program with a university in Mexico where graduate students can teach English for a semester at the university. Studies are also offered in alternate years in Spain. Many students in the graduate Spanish program are increasing their attendance at professional conferences as attendees and presenters. The Spanish department has a strong emphasis on teaching. All TA’s take an introductory class on teaching and are required to attend a two-week orientation before taking on their teaching assignments.
From the English Department: This department offers 10 potential degrees in three areas: Literature, English Education, and Creative Writing. A unique relationship exists where all three academic programs work together rather than as separate entities. Students enjoy close faculty mentoring and teacher training, the fastest time to degree on campus and an excellent job placement rate. The Creative Writing PhD program is ranked in the top 5 nationally.
This is a small representation of the scholarship and quality that is available for graduate students at Western Michigan University. Most impressive to me, as I interviewed faculty in various departments, was the dedication and passion faculty members displayed as they discussed their programs and students. If I could meet with every department that offers graduate programs I’ve no doubt I would continue to experience similar responses and discover yet more exceptional educational programming. The lesson for this graduate student? WMU is an institution devoted to providing the most excellent graduate programming possible… and it just happens to be a convenient drive for me as well!