Soon individuals living and attending college in North Texas will be able to earn graduate degrees from Texas Tech University without ever having to step on the campus. Austin College and Texas Tech University have teamed up to offer students an avenue to their master’s degree in mass communications from Texas Tech by way of AC.


The 30 credit-hour program will start up next fall and offer students two curriculum tracks — a traditional, research-based thesis program and a non-thesis, professional program.


Classes will be held on AC’s campus and led by Texas Tech faculty. Presidents and leaders from both schools met in Sherman Thursday to sign an official agreement between the institutions.


“This program is designed to help students succeed in the communications industry or to continue studies toward a PhD degree,” AC President Steven O’Day said. “Depending upon courses selected, graduate students are prepared for careers and advanced study in media and communications, journalism, sports communication and entertainment, publishing, advertising, public relations and other related industries.”


Tuition rates for the program will largely mirror those at Texas Tech, where a 12-hour, undergrad course-load costs approximately $9,000. AC and Tech officials said they did not yet have projections on the number of students and staff to likely to be a part of the degree program.


AC President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Beth Gill said the program joins a growing list of collaborations and agreements between Texas Tech and AC.


“There’s already a pretty well-trodden path between our two institutions,” Gill said. “The Texas Tech School of Medicine has an early-decision program for our pre-medical students. The Roo-to-Raider AC-Tech Connect agreements provide increased access to competitive programs in the allied health field. We have gateway agreements with Tech’s master’s of science and accounting program and school of law, and now, today’s agreement.”


Texas Tech University President Lawrence Schovanec described the program as a fast-track to a master’s degree, but one that will still offer a quality, affordable education. Schovanec said he looked forward to getting the communications program off the ground and hoped to expand education opportunities with AC in the future.


“We intend to provide graduate programs in technical communication, public administration, mass communication and ultimately, a master’s in business administration, moving forward.”


Drew Smith is a reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at asmith@heralddemocrat.com.