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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Fletcher launches new Master in Global Affairs degree program

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The Fletcher School this fall launched a new master's degree program designed in part for students who wish to study part time.

The Fletcher School launched a new Master in Global Affairs degree program this fall. The degree is designed for students who want to focus on a single area of study and complete their studies in less time than a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy typically takes.

The MGA can be completed in as little as 16 months, while the MALD takes two academic years. Students pursuing an MGA can opt to study part time, too, which allows them to extend their studies for as long as two-and-a-half years. 

Kelly Sims Gallagher, academic dean and professor of energy and environmental policy at Fletcher, said that the program originated to provide a more practical option for graduate studies.

"We recognized that there were some prospective graduate students who were not willing to take two full years out of the workforce, who were exceptionally focused in terms of what they wanted to study, and who wanted a more experiential approach to education," Gallagher wrote in an email to the Daily. 

Students enrolled in the MGA program study year-round, which includes the summer. The program also requires students to take more classes in their area of study than do other degree programs.

Another difference from the other programs offered by Fletcher is the MGA's experiential component. As part of the degree, students must complete an internship for credit and a practicum in the final semester.

"While many students do internships at Fletcher, this is the first degree that allows the internship for credit, and the first to require a practicum in lieu of a capstone thesis," Gallagher said. 

For Robert Jones, an MGA student, the experiential components of the MGA work well with the current stage of his career. Jones earned a financial undergraduate degree, worked as an equity analyst at a hedge fund and as a senior strategy consultant at a commercial strategy firm. He is looking to enter the field of political risk advisory after completing his degree.

"I think having had my experience in the workforce, having the opportunity to pivot my career into this new area in a practical way was what really drew me towards it," Jones said in an interview

Gallagher noted that the program interests students who are looking to pivot in their career or relate their studies to a specific field or position. 

"We had very strong applications for this new degree program, and the students it seems to attract are those who are early-to mid-career, with a clear idea of exactly what they want to get out of their graduate degree," she said. "They are less exploratory and more pragmatic. Many are trying to execute career shifts based on their degree here at Fletcher."

For MGA candidate Melinda Monzione, the degree fits well with her current position as director of the international traveling exhibition program at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She is pursuing an independent study on cultural diplomacy.

"Years ago, I had intended to pursue a MALD at Fletcher, and when my professional career took off in my precise field of study ... it was really hard to fathom walking away from my professional opportunities despite my dedication to continuing academic pursuits," Monzione said. 

Monzione expressed how finding a program that fit all of her needs in her area of study was difficult, so the MGA's ability to accommodate working professionals was ideal for her.  

"It's the precise program that I've been searching for over so many years," she said. "The MGA's flexible curriculum, accelerated pace and the ability to pursue part-time is tailor made for me at this juncture of my career, so I'm delighted." 

Monzione characterized the inaugural class as a supportive and engaging community within the broader Fletcher student body. 

"It's this deeply dynamic global community, descended onto Medford," she said.

Gallagher reported that this class of MGA students has made the launching of the degree program very smooth.

"We were pleased with the interest in the degree, and our new entering cohort is strong," she said.