By Daniel Strawhun, Opinions Editor
This year, undergraduate students at the University of Missouri-St. Louis are able to earn a degree with a distinction in one of three areas: research, scholarship, or creativity in the arts. According to a bulletin that UMSL released outlining the program, the new areas of distinction were added in order to recognize students who demonstrate outstanding accomplishment in research or other creative endeavors. Ron Yasbin, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, explained, “These types of recognitions are often found in the expensive private colleges and universities. It was our belief that our students are equally qualified and work equally hard so they too should have this recognition on their degrees.”
In order to qualify for a degree with distinction, there are a few requirements students must meet. Students must be undergraduates at UMSL and be pursuing a degree; they must also have completed a minimum of 75 credit hours in order to be considered for a degree with distinction. Lastly, students must have a minimum 3.5 GPA in order to be considered for the distinction.
In addition to these requirements, students must also choose and regularly meet with a faculty mentor who will oversee their independent research.
The bulletin provides students who might be interested in receiving a degree with distinction a step-by-step process for attaining the distinction:
- Find an UMSL faculty mentor willing to guide or accommodate you through your specific creative works. For some disciplines, potential mentors may require students to enroll in independent research or independent studies courses.
- Begin or continue your research or creative works.
- Apply for candidacy once you have earned 75 credit hours.
- Fulfill the requirements for your discipline’s senior thesis (if required by your discipline).
- Maintain a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
- Defend your thesis or body of work and submit the Preliminary Approval for the Degree with 7. Distinction form to your College Dean no later than 6 weeks prior to commencement.
- Graduate with a Degree With Distinction.
In conclusion, Yasbin said, “The CAS Undergraduate Council strongly supported this proposal as did the leadership of the SGA (from last year). The proposal was overwhelmingly embraced by the other colleges and the Faculty Senate. This year students can begin to utilize this option. Departments and programs across the university are now setting up the individual criteria. Interested students should talk with their advisors.”