Professional Studies vs Grad School: Which is the right fit for you?
by Valerie Williams:
Valerie completed her Masters in Communication at Lasell College in June, 2014, and now works as the Marketing Communications Coordinator for ELDER. After observing and interacting with ELDER participants, faculty and experts, she wrote this to summarize the information many prospective participants need.
You are a manager in a terrific CCRC, Assisted Living, Nursing/Rehab organization, Adult Day Health provider, medical provider or agency with a large senior population, and you want to build your management and leadership skills. You’re managing programs, community relations, hospitality, social work, development, marketing, activities, care coordination or you are an executive director. You and your team face daily challenges from changes in the market that require you to build new capabilities internally.
What is the right educational path?
It depends, like many things, on your goals and your budget. Both professional and graduate studies are higher-level management education opportunities that can propel your career forward—but which is the right fit for you? Here are the questions you many of our participants examined when making the decision.
What type of Credit or CEU will I get and at what cost?
Graduate studies, often 2-year programs, are the next step after earning a bachelors degree. Courses usually last a full semester, whether online or live, and cover a topic in great detail over the course of months, and require a substantial amount of reading and writing. Content is king, so to demonstrate that knowledge the requirements are is substantial and the work is graded. One can usually find a program that is oriented towards health care, or there may be a few specialized classes about long-term care. Click here to view the details of Lasell College’s MSM in Management, with a concentration in Eldercare. If you have the academic qualifications, and seek the recognition that comes with a Master’s degree, then this credential may be the right option for you.
ELDER’s management courses, offered by Lasell College and BU’s School of Social Work, are classified as Professional Studies.
They are for managers currently or recently working in the field of Eldercare. These courses are short (2 to 4 weeks), employ action-learning, and require you to make a plan for yourself or your organization. The richness comes from highly selected content (much less reading than graduate school), but mostly from the interaction with the experts from the field, who teach, and with peers in the room. The cost of a course is between $600 and and $900 depending on the bundle of courses offered together, and the experts involved. These are non-credit courses, though CEUs are offered. Most ELDER courses are approved for 10-20 CEUs for social workers. Anyone may earn academic CEUs (generally 1 or 2) per course. Your work is graded for your personal feedback, but your transcript says “P” if you get above a 70%. There is no application for joining these courses. Work experience in an organization serving seniors is the only criteria for joining.
In ELDER’s program, if you take 6 short courses, Lasell College will grant you a Professional Certificate in Eldercare Management. You may also get one class removed from your requirement for graduate school. Depending on the course selection and bundle, this certificate may cost around $4,500. About 80% of ELDER participants have had their class paid for by their organizations.
Who will be in my classes?
In a Masters in Management program, your classmates will come from many fields and organizations. In ELDER’s Professional Studies program, you are with peers from organizations serving seniors. An agency serving Medicaid population may be very different than a CCRC serving a high-income population, but many of the challenges of defining strategic initiatives, marketing, budgeting and managing teams are similar.
In a Masters program, usually an academic faculty member, sometimes with knowledge of a specific field, is teaching. In ELDER’s Professional Studies Program, every class is co-taught by faculty and experts who are practitioners in the field.
Where are my classes held?
Some classes are offered online, some are face to face, some are hybrid. Ask this question about every single class.
ELDER’s classes are offered online in bundles through both Boston University’s Center for Aging and Disability Education and Reach and Lasell College. ELDER’s classes are also offered live at Lasell College, though less often.
What is online learning like?
Online learning takes self-discipline and the ability to work independently. Your responsibility is to log on, read your materials, and answer questions in a forum-style discussion with your peers. To make the most of online learning, it’s important to fully engage in the discussion by responding to your classmates in a timely and thoughtful manner.
Questions about professional, graduate, or other learning opportunities? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a comment below– Karla or Valerie will get back to you!