Post-bac programs are largely unpublicized and operate somewhere in the grey area at the fringes of academia. Post-bac programs are very popular in skill based fields as undergraduate programs are often spent in exploration, students only spending 1 or 2 years focused in their discipline.
Great list found on Julia Galloway’s Field Guide for Ceramic Artisans
“There are two types of programs, an official “Post – Baccalaureate Certificate Program” that requires a certain amount of credits to earn an official Post-Bac Certificate. There is also the casual “Special Student Program”, which varies as much as the schools that offers it. The difference in these programs can be mysterious, exciting or frustrating as usually this information is not on line, and you must email a busy faculty member for specifics.” ~Julia Galloway
There are many benefits to joining a Post-Bac program or Special Student program.
First, these types of students are often referred to as “graduate student at large”. Many Universities that offer such programs do not have graduate programs themselves, thereby leaving a vital space to be filled within their communities. Post-bac students take up that role, mentoring younger students, and taking a leadership role within the studio. For those programs that do have graduate students, post-bac students are often incorporated into the graduate program in all but name- thereby providing the insight and experience of a graduate program without the obligation of working on a thesis.
Next, without the usual obligations of being a matriculated student; few credit requirements and no outside coursework, special students are able to devote a good deal of their energy on their studio practice. They are also entitled to the benefit of contact hours with faculty and regular critique in upper level classes. These programs provide an excellent time for students to develop a deeper body of work, applications for graduate schools, residencies and employment, and forming contacts within the community of their specific field.
Things to be aware of/ think about when deciding on a program
- Faculty: who are you going to be working with
- Cost of tuition: as there is a huge variety, pay attention to the per credit charge
- Cost of living
- Availability of local employment