According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, bachelor's degree holders earned more than 60 percent more than high school graduates, while people with master's degrees earned more than 92 percent more in 2003. At The University of Texas-Pan American, the opportunity to eventually land in this upper-earning level is available to students by applying to one of 45 master's programs it offers.
Graduate degrees are offered in areas as diverse as business administration, English, Spanish, family nurse practitioner and speech communication, among many others.
Students interested in pursuing a master's degree will need to submit an application and official transcripts to the Office of Graduate Studies in the Administration Building, room 116.
"If students are currently attending or have graduated from UTPA they can be admitted into graduate school on the same day they come in if they meet the requirements," Dr. George Avellano, associate vice president of academic affairs, said, because UTPA transcripts are easily accessible. "Admission is a two-part process: admission into the graduate school and then admission into a certain program."
First, students interested in applying to UTPA's graduate school need a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) for clear admission without restrictions and a 2.5 GPA for probationary admission to graduate school - where a student must maintain a GPA of at least a "B" to remain admitted. Secondly, a student must also meet the admission requirements for the specific program they are interested in, which can be found in the Graduate Catalog.
Avellano said a graduate education is increasingly important in today's workforce because it gives students better control over their future.
"Graduate school is for someone who wants to 'be all that they can be,'" Avellano said. "It (a graduate degree) gives you more knowledge and confidence, allows you to put learning into something tangible and offers more leverage in career placement."
The graduate student has to put off satisfaction today for the rewards that tomorrow will bring with a higher education, Avellano said. Potential graduate students must be planners, self motivated and determined to make the most of the opportunities available to them, he said.
UTPA offers several financial aid opportunities for students including scholarships, grants, loans and assistantships, which allow students to work as teaching or research assistants. The graduate studies office awards more than $1.5 million a year in student scholarships, including 30 assistantships of $10,000 each, Avellano said.
The University also offers classes both during the day and at night for students who want to work full time while attending school.
"UTPA's graduate courses are set up to meet the needs of students that teach during the day, who are in business, or who work in medical fields," Avellano said.
The University also offers three online degree programs, which Avellano said are extremely advantageous for working students. The Master of Science in Accounting is produced and administered by UTPA while the Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Kinesiology are administered through UT Pan American, but produced through the U.T. TeleCampus program - an extension of the U.T. System which provides student-centered Internet delivery of degree programs, academic courses, training, professional development and college preparation. UTPA also plans to add an online master's in chemistry in the near future.
This semester, there are 2,176 master's-level students and 96 doctoral-level students enrolled at UTPA. Graduate students currently make up nearly 13 percent of the student body. The goal is to increase that number to about 20 percent, Avellano said.
UT Pan American also allows students to take up to seven years to finish their master's degree programs - which require completion of 30 to 36 hours - so students can take courses part time if they hold full-time jobs.
"Learning is a lifelong process," Avellano said. "Knowledge is power and the ticket to your future."
For more information about graduate school at UTPA or to obtain an application, call 956/381-3661.