Board of Visitors approves resolution to introduce new undergraduate major, updated masters program in psychology

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The Board of Visitors proposed additions to the College curriculum including a Japanese major and a master's of science in a psychology graduate program. SARAH SMITH / THE FLAT HAT

During the College of William and Mary’s Board of Visitors meetings Sept. 26-28, the academic affairs committee approved a new undergraduate major and restructured a master’s program to meet the changes in faculty and interests of current students.

Provost Michael Halleran announced the creation of a new bachelor’s degree in Japanese studies, based on a degree that is currently offered through the Charles Center’s interdisciplinary studies program. Before the major is finalized, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia must approve it.

“We already have a minor, we have students who can self-teach, self-design a major in Japanese studies,” Halleran said. “Basically [we are] providing another opportunity for our students. You know some people say programs costs money and I will say programs do not cost money, people cost money. This is not adding cost to the institution.”

“We already have a minor, we have students who can self-teach, self-design a major in Japanese studies,” Halleran said. “Basically [we are] providing another opportunity for our students. You know some people say programs costs money and I will say programs do not cost money, people cost money. This is not adding cost to the institution.”

Director of the Japanese studies program Michael Cronin said that faculty have been discussing the possibility of creating a major for several years as enrollment grew. In spring 2017, Cronin said that faculty surveyed students and found interest in creating such a major. After gauging interest, Cronin compared the College to its peer universities and found that many have a major in Japanese studies. Then, faculty drafted a proposal which was first approved by the department of modern languages and literatures, and then approved by the faculty of arts and sciences.

“We’re looking forward to increasing the visibility of Japanese studies at W&M and to better serving students’ needs,” Cronin said in an email. “As we wrote in the proposal, ‘Japan is the world’s third-largest economy and one of the US’s most important allies and trade partners. It also exerts an outsized ‘soft-power’ influence through the boundless appeal of Japanese popular culture. Japan is therefore critical to W&M’s internationalization, to Virginia’s increasingly international economy, and to our students’ futures.’ And we hope to see more and more students coming to W&M specifically to major in Japanese studies.”

Current students at the College could self-design a major through the interdisciplinary studies program, although Japanese studies was not one of the standing options students could select through the Charles Center. One limitation of the self-designed option was that it required students to take no more than 50 percent of their credits in one program. Now, with the proposed major, students can take a greater number of courses in the Japanese program.

Additionally, the proposed major will require students to take nine credits taught in Japanese above the 202 level so that students develop a proficiency in the language. It would also require students to take a capstone course as well as an Introduction to Japanese Studies course.

“As for faculty, I think it will make it easier for us to advise students interested in pursuing studies in Japanese language and culture,” Cronin said in an email.

“As for faculty, I think it will make it easier for us to advise students interested in pursuing studies in Japanese language and culture,” Cronin said in an email.

The Board also approved switching the graduate psychology program to a master’s of science in psychological sciences. According to psychological sciences professor Joshua Burk, when the program was initially developed in 1953, there were no M.S. programs at the College, so the psychology graduate program was assigned an M.A. Burk said the program has always placed an emphasis on psychological science and clinical details.

“I’m excited that the degree change more accurately reflects the scope of our program along with the research and coursework completed by our students,” Burk said in an email.