When SUNY Oswego introduced a new integrative professional studies (IPS) degree option in 2022, the opportunity to provide flexibility to working professionals as well as connections with helpful and knowledgeable faculty were two key points.
One of the first students in the IPS program, Emily Spath, can attest to those strengths.
Spath has worked the past four years as a teaching assistant in a middle school, but saw furthering her education as an opportunity to focus on a specific passion and purpose.
“I absolutely love my job, but have decided I would be a better fit in the counseling office than the classroom,” Spath said. “I want to be able to focus more on the kids than the curriculum.”
The flexibility of the IPS program was the biggest reason for her transferring into it.
“I work full time and have a part-time job, so I ran into some roadblocks with my other degree program, needing to take in-person classes,” Spath said. “However, once I looked at the program specifics, I became interested in the content as well.”
The program spanning disciplines and providing a customized experience mean “each student can tailor coursework to their needs and interests with the ultimate goal of being a more effective employee and colleague,” Spath explained.
Working with top-flight and caring professors has also proven valuable, Spath said.
“I have found the professors to be very available and helpful,” she noted. “The program is new and the fact that professors are willing to find solutions to challenges in these early stages has been so helpful. I really appreciate the flexibility I have been offered.”
When Spath encountered some challenges in the fall semester, faculty members were very understanding and accommodating.
“As an educator, I know how important it is to adhere to deadlines and hand things in on time, but I also know how important it is to be flexible and understanding that your students have lives and sometimes things happen,” Spath said.
The program acknowledges that many students bring knowledge and skillsets into their studies, but can help hone and expand upon these abilities to make students more prepared and well-rounded as they pursue their ambitions.
“Not everything I am learning is new to me because I have spent the past four years working in a professional environment, so I’m familiar with some professional practices,” Spath said. “However, it helps to have them reinforced. I appreciate being able to bring my personal experience and background into assignments and discussions.”
Spath hopes to earn her IPS degree in December 2023, then continue into the SUNY Oswego school counseling master’s degree program to ultimately realize the dream of becoming a school counselor.
About the IPS degree
The IPS degree allows students like Spath to focus on topics that best align with their personal or professional journeys. It can bridge the gap for transfer students and professionals looking to finish their higher education by maximizing transfer credits and providing enhanced flexibility in how students take classes.
Particularly aimed at adult and working professional students, the degree is highly customizable with five main areas of study: communication skills; data analysis and project management; digital skills, self-management; and social structure and systems. Due to the wide variety of transfer credits allowed, SUNY Oswego offers both a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science degree.
The new IPS degree is also offered in an online delivery mode. Some in-person classes may be taken at the college’s Syracuse campus.
For more information about integrative professional studies, visit oswego.edu/ips.