BA/BS-MA Program
BA/BS in Honors College and CLA with an MA in Critical & Creative Thinking, College of Advancing and Professional Studies

This BA/BS-MA program allows UMASS Boston students to earn in 5 years either a BA or a BS from the College of Liberal Arts, along with the designation University Honors Scholar for those students in the Honors College, as well as a Master of Arts degree in Critical & Creative Thinking (CCT), in either the regular CCT track or the Science in a Changing World track, from the College of Advancing and Professional Studies (CAPS). In the regular CCT track, an explicit and sustained focus on learning and applying ideas and tools in critical thinking, creative thinking, and reflective practice allows students involved in a wide array of professional paths and endeavors to develop clarity and confidence to make deep changes in their learning, teaching, work, activism, research, and artistry. The Science in a Changing World track focuses on science in the context of social change or individual intellectual development to prepare students in diverse science-related career paths—from laboratories to field research, journalism to policy formulation, teaching to activism. Both tracks require a capstone synthesis project and a Practitioner’s Portfolio that helps focus the students’ career trajectory and enhance their employability. Most CCT students are mid-career, but younger CCT students have made good use of their studies to develop and clarify their professional aspirations (such as a recent UMass Amherst graduate pursuing a CCT degree to deepen her critical thinking skills before continuing on to training in medicine). The same experience of professional development and clarification is the goal for BA/BS-MA students.

Institutional location
The mission of CCT summarized in the first paragraph has, as is the case in all UMB graduate programs, been established and implemented by the faculty of the Program subject to periodic AQUAD reviews (and their precursors). The CCT mission that has developed from the Program’s founding in 1980, as well as that of the Science in a Changing World track since it was established in 2009, remained unchanged when the formal home of this cross-college program moved from the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) to University College, now CAPS, in September 2012. The move reflected the willingness of CAPS to fund new or replacement faculty as well as CAPS support for CCT’s distinctive approach to personal and professional development, interdisciplinary studies, and incubation of workplace and instructional innovation. Also unchanged with the move was that both CCT tracks can be completed entirely through face-to-face sections, entirely from a distance, or in combination. (Three electives are offered only online at this point of time, marked [oo] for online only in the table at the end of the proposal; all other courses are offered in face-to-face or online sections.) Any changes to CCT courses follow the standard governance chain for graduate programs, running from the Program faculty through to Graduate Studies Committee, Faculty Council and the Provost. The CAPS Steering Committee serves, under the CAPS Constitution, as the equivalent of Senate in other colleges. The CAPS Steering Committee approved this BA/BA-MA program in recognition that it represents a natural extension of CCT’s practice since at least 2008 of integrating Honors students into its graduate courses while preserving the distinctive approach of CCT studies mentioned above.

Overview and Rationale
Instead of the required 120 undergraduate credits needed for graduation, the program requires a total of 140 credits (107 undergraduate and 33 graduate level credits or their equivalents), which can be completed in five years. This program aims to help us retain our best undergraduates who are interested in graduate-level study in Critical & Creative Thinking and Science in a Changing World. This is advantageous to UMASS Boston in an increasingly competitive market in graduate studies. It benefits the students by allowing them to earn the two degrees in one year less than would otherwise be the case, by allowing them access to graduate courses in their third and fourth years, and by opening them up to the rich and diverse experience of personal and professional development that older CCT students bring to their graduate studies. The traditional CCT students, in turn, benefit from the addition of the BA/BS-MA students who have strong academic backgrounds.

Application, Admission, Advising
The application requirements for joining the graduate program include the following: application fee; a completed graduate application form; an official transcript indicating a GPA of 3.2 or above across all undergraduate courses; three letters of recommendation; an essay stating personal objectives and career aspirations; and one or more examples of written work from a course. GRE scores are not required for this accelerated bachelors-to-masters degree program, but the admissions committee sometimes requests an interview. The CCT MA program is interdisciplinary and so accepts applicants with bachelor’s degrees from a variety of departments and disciplinary backgrounds. Application deadline for spring or fall admission is, respectively, November 1 or June 1 of the student’s junior year. Honors College students have the option to apply in their sophomore year.

Students with a qualifying GPA and application accepted into the MA program start taking graduate courses in their junior or senior year and complete the requirements in their fifth year. However, before they are officially moved from undergraduate status to graduate student status, students are required to have completed all UMass Boston undergraduate degree requirements within the 107 undergraduate credits, including Major Requirements, First Year and Intermediate Seminars, the Honors College curriculum (for those in the Honors College), Quantitative Reasoning, Distribution Requirements, Diversity Requirements, and Writing Requirements. Once the Registrar has confirmed that the student has completed all necessary undergraduate requirements, the Registrar opens a graduate record for the 5-year student and the student’s status changes to become officially matriculated as a CCT MA student at UMASS Boston.The requirements for the Master’s degree are unchanged at 33 credits, including the capstone synthesis project requirement. Students who do not complete the entire program with the required GPA (3.0 for the MA Program) are able to apply any of their graduate credits toward the Bachelor’s degree. Advising for the undergraduate degree follows the existing CLA system, involving faculty from the student’s major as well as the University Advising Center, with additional advice from the Honors College for Honors students. Advising for the MA Program is the responsibility of the CCT faculty, which includes members from CAPS, CEHD, CLA, and CSM. In order to facilitate a smooth transition during the period from the student expressing interest in the MA and matriculating, the CCT Program Director and core faculty undergo training to become familiar with CLA and Honors requirements.

Courses and Finances
All CCT courses are offered as regular credit-earning courses through CAPS, with a state-funded cross-listed section of ten courses when they are taught by faculty with regular tenure-track appointments (marked [s] in the table at the end of the proposal). Students need to know that if, during years 3 & 4, students take a CCT course through CAPS as their fifth course, they have to pay the standard cost for graduate courses offered through CAPS (currently $1470 for 3 credits)—an extra charge over and above tuition and fees for their full-time undergraduate load. However, the lower charges in year 5 for CCT courses through CAPS compared with graduate courses through other colleges offset this extra charge almost completely for in-state students and more than offsets it for non-resident students. The cost for the BA/BS-MA Program over and above the cost for the BA or BS would be around $13000 at current tuition and fee rates. The CCT Program offers only one ¼ time graduate assistantship, which provides ¼ of the fees and a modest stipend. Financial aid applies for CAPS courses in the same way it does for any UMB credit-earning course. Honors students holding Chancellor’s scholarships receive a waiver for fees in CAPS-funded sections until they have completed their 107 undergraduate credits.

The following table provides a probable sequence of courses taken for the MA Program, where C = required core course, E = elective, and R = final research and engagement courses, including the capstone seminar. Electives could also be taken during the summers.

Junior, spring
Senior, fall
Senior, spring
5th year, fall
5th year, spring




Required courses (21 credits)
Core, Regular CCT track
CRCRTH 601 Critical Thinking [s]
CRCRTH 602 Creative Thinking
CRCRTH 603L Foundations of Philosophical Thought [s]
CRCRTH 651L Advanced Cognitive Psychology
Core, Science in a Changing World track
Either CRCRTH 640 Environment, Science & Society: Critical Thinking [s]
Or CRCRTH 645L Biology in Society: Critical Thinking [s]
CRCRTH 649L Scientific & Political Change [s]
CRCRTH 650 Mathematical Thinking
CRCRTH 652L Children & Science
Research and Engagement courses, both tracks
CRCRTH 692 Research & Engagement Process [s]
CRCRTH 693 Action Research for Change [s]
CRCRTH 694 Synthesis of Theory & Practice [s]
Electives (12 credits)
(including also core courses above not taken for the student’s track)
CRCRTH 611 Seminar in Critical Thinking
CRCRTH 612 Seminar in Creativity
CRCRTH 615 Holistic & Transformative Teaching
CRCRTH 616 Dialogue Processes [oo]
CRCRTH 618 Creative Thinking, Collaboration & Organizational Change
CRCRTH 619 Biomedical Ethics [oo]
CRCRTH 627 Issues in Anti-Racist and Multicultural Education [s]
CRCRTH 630 Criticism and Creativity in Literature & Arts
CRCRTH 653L Epidemiological Thinking [s]
CRCRTH 655 Metacognition
CRCRTH 670 Thinking, Learning & Computers [oo]
CRCRTH 688 Reflective Practice

[oo] = online only at this point; all other courses are offered in face-to-face or online sections
[s] = state-funded cross-listed section when taught by faculty with regular tenure-track appointments

Last update 9 December 2014