Nathan Kallish had originally planned to find a job after completing his bachelor’s degree in bioengineering last spring. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he decided to enroll in a newly developed, nonthesis master’s program instead.

Nathan Kallish

“I’m very grateful for the program,” said Kallish. “I plan on continuing my search for a career very soon and will hopefully have a job lined up after graduating with my master’s degree in May.”

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, students and professionals have been faced with a changing job market. The Voiland College has expanded its offerings to help students navigate challenging circumstances and changes in their career trajectories.

Many departments have expanded their programs, offering one-year, non-thesis master’s degrees in chemical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, engineering, environmental engineering, materials science and engineering, and mechanical engineering.

For its one-year chemical engineering program, the Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering requires that students take 26 graded credits, including classes in transport phenomena, thermodynamics, kinetics, as well as research methods and communications. They also take a one-credit graduate seminar.

Some of the upper-level courses taken as an undergraduate can count toward the degree, and the school also has offered some scholarship support to offset tuition costs.

Kim-Lien Vu

Kim-Lien Vu recently began her studies in the one-year program. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering this spring and when her summer internship was cancelled, she began looking into how people responded to the economic downturn of 2008. She learned that many people chose to continue their education during the recession and that professionals who graduated with a master’s earned higher salaries than those with bachelor’s degrees.

“I decided to invest myself in WSU’s non-thesis master’s program,” said Vu, “In one year I will have my master’s degree.”

Kallish believes that the additional skills he will gain from his studies will help him stand out from other job seekers.

“While continuing to learn is wonderful, I believe the most valuable aspect of continuing for a master’s degree is the opportunities it can provide,” he said. “With a master’s degree I will be able to look for jobs with a higher starting wage or a position that is not considered an entry-level job since I have a higher level of education.”

Meanwhile, programs for professionals, such as WSU Global Campus’ Master’s of Engineering and Technology Management and Electrical Power Engineering programs have also seen enrollment increases. The ETM program, which has seen a 10 percent increase in enrollment this year, also offers six certificate programs to prepare professionals for meeting management needs in industry.

“The ETM program is a great way for students to build their skills and improve their marketability, especially in today’s world,” said John Pricco, an Engineering and Technology Management faculty member who worked in executive management at the Boeing Company for 34 years. “As part of the global campus, students can complete their degree from anywhere. In the rich ETM learning environment students learn not only from the course material but from each other and from what each brings to the program.”