Following the successful launch of a pilot master's degree tuition incentive program last academic year, WPI is announcing that it will once again offer an accelerated master's degree option with fixed tuition to its graduating class and recent alumni; last year's program contributed to a 31 percent increase in enrollment in WPI's full-time master's degree programs as graduating seniors and recent alumni took advantage of the opportunity to pursue advanced degrees at reduced costs.
The new Graduate Scholars Program offers graduates of WPI's classes of 2005 to 2010 a tuition discount that can reduce the cost of a master's degree by nearly 50 percent. Through this program, seniors and alumni who have been accepted into – and enroll full time in – a WPI master's program may register for as many as 33 credits during the 2010–11 academic year, but pay tuition for only 18 credits. This program will make it possible for many students to complete a bachelor's and a master's degree in just five years; it also represents a potential savings of more than $16,000.
"WPI recognizes that the current economy has been challenging for our students and their families; we also know that there are tremendous career benefits for graduates with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics," said WPI Provost and Senior Vice President John A. Orr. "In many professions, master's degrees are a requirement for success, and over the years it's become increasingly clear that advanced degrees can also lead to greater opportunities – and higher salaries – for our alumni.
"The demand for WPI graduates continues to be remarkably strong," Orr noted, "and, through this program, we hope to offer our new and recent graduates a reprieve from the current economy, while preparing them for an even more exceptional future."
According to WPI's Career Development Center, the average reported starting salary for a WPI graduate with a bachelor's degree is $56,988 while the average starting salary for a WPI master's degree recipient is $69,106. Career outcomes for WPI graduates are exceptionally strong. This past summer Payscale.com, which tracks and ranks the top colleges and universities that produce the best-paid graduates, placed WPI 8th in the nation among engineering schools, 9th in the nation among Ivy League and engineering schools, and 10th in the nation among all schools for highest starting median salary; it was the second year in a row that Payscale.com placed WPI in its top 10.
This year's Graduate Scholars Program is being offered to full-time students during the 2010-11 academic year for their first year of graduate study; those who do not complete the requirements for a master's degree during the academic year may continue taking graduate courses at WPI's regular rate on either a full- or part-time basis. The tuition incentive is available to all WPI graduates who have completed or will complete their bachelor's degree requirements between Jan. 1, 2005, and October 31, 2010, and who are accepted into – and are enrolled full time in – any of WPI's master's degree programs, except the MBA. Aside from the Graduate Scholars Program, WPI has long offered undergraduates a combined bachelor of science/master of science program, which, through an accelerated course of study, allows students to obtain both degrees after only five years of full-time work. The tuition incentive program is also available to the students enrolled in this program during the next academic year, allowing them to complete their fifth year of graduate study at reduced costs.