1. What attracted you to the PDP?
I was attracted to the progressive degree program because it allowed me to pursue advanced studies in something I was interested in with plenty of flexibility and yielded a degree in the end. You can complete your bachelor's and master's degrees simultaneously and in four years if you're enterprising and start early enough. It also helped that I had been to Catalina Island, knew many of the professors who were involved in the program, and was confident that it would be a great program since USC boasts a fantastic marine biology graduate program.
2. What impacts did the PDP have on you as both a professional and person?
It's hard to say what impacts the degree has had professionally yet. However, I know that my experiences within the program will make me a stronger candidate for biology graduate programs in the future. The main impact it had on me was definitely my own personal enrichment, which made it an incredibly fruitful and worthwhile endeavor. Few programs offer such a flexible curriculum for advanced study with the possibility of attaining a degree in a reasonable amount of time.
3. What is an interesting opportunity you had during you time in the program?
For me, one of the best experiences I had at USC was spending a semester out at Catalina Island. It was a requisite for my degree program, and it was my favorite semester at USC. The Wrigley Institute and the Marine Science Center really are fantastic resources that not many people know about on campus. The Catalina Semester allowed for a lot of personal interaction with professors who were experts in their fields and total immersion in a research project of our choice.
4. If you had to sum up your experience with USC College's PDP in one sentence, what would it be?
I enjoyed the progressive degree program because it allowed me to study a field (marine biology) that I was interested in, offered fantastic research opportunities, and prepared me for future advanced studies in this field while yielding a master's degree.
5. What can you recommend to current USC College students, who are considering the PDP?
I would recommend anyone interested in a PDP to look into the program further and decide whether a master's degree fits into their personal and academic goals. I would also suggest that they look into it early in their careers at USC and draft several academic plans, including one with the PDP and one without. They should also decide whether it is feasible to do it in four years or if they'll need to take an extra year. If they'll need to take an extra year, I would encourage them to look into alternative sources of financial aid for that year (other scholarships, grants, fellowships, TAships, etc.), as most scholarships terminate after four years.
Submitted by Matthew Getz, Class of 2008, B.S. in Biochemistry, M.S. in Marine Environmental Biology, Minor in History, Minor in Religion