These new programs allow students to pursue more than one of their passions in a different type of academic environment.
The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is partnering with the environmental studies department to offer a five-year master’s degree in Environment and Science Communication.
The program fast-tracks students to complete a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Environmental Studies in three years and then begin graduate studies in the journalism school.
Rachel McMahan, a junior, is currently the first and only student admitted under conditional acceptance to this program.
There are two applications for admission: one for conditional admission and another to be accepted into the master’s program, McMahan said.
Sara Peach, one of the leading journalism faculty for the program, said the degree prepares students for a range of potential careers, such as journalism for environmental issues or work for a research university.
“On a broad scale there is a lot of debate over what is important — a liberal arts or a professional education,” Peach said. “With this degree, we’re able to say that they are both important.”
McMahan said she is excited to become affiliated with the journalism school as an ambassador for this program.
“I’ve really enjoyed my liberal arts education, but I’m excited to get some more professional skills under my belt,” she said.
She said one of the most exciting aspects of the program is its interdisciplinary nature, closing gaps between sciences and communication.
“I found that the science world needs effective communicators, and I want to be one of those people,” she said.
The physics department has collaborated with Kenan-Flagler Business School to offer a quantitative finance concentration for physics majors since fall 2014.
“It really speaks to a social need,” finance professor Alex Arapoglou said. “The world has become more complex, and people studying physics with a quantitative background can contribute to the overall smartness of an industry.”
Currently three or four students are officially enrolled in the concentration, said Reyco Henning, the physics professor leading the program.
The concentration is only available for those pursuing a Bachelor’s of Arts in physics, but may extend to those pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science, Henning said.
Arapoglou said there was vast support for the concentration, as many of the finance professors at UNC come from a physics background.
Although there are programs in financial engineering, Henning said few other schools offer a combined program of physics and finance at the undergraduate level.
“More and more industries are becoming more technical, and the ability to solve problems quantitatively is becoming more and more important,” Arapoglou said.
A neuroscience minor will be available to students of all majors beginning fall 2015 because of student demand, especially from the Carolina Neuroscience Club.
The five-course minor will allow students to dabble in related courses in biology, psychology, chemistry, statistics, mathematics and physics.
Michael Parrish, an officer of the club, said neuroscience has been undervalued at UNC.
“Neuroscience is important because its boundaries cross with that of a lot of different fields,” Parrish said. “It’s an emerging field that hasn’t had the proper attention, at least on this campus.”
He said the minor’s development and approval has been five to six years in the making.
Kelly Giovanello, an associate psychology professor who proposed the minor, said the success of the minor will determine the likelihood of creating a neuroscience major.
She said the minor is important in keeping UNC up to par with peer universities that already have neuroscience programs, including Duke University, University of Virginia and Wake Forest University.
“At a prominent research university, this minor is allowing us to stay at the forefront of the discipline, starting at the undergraduate level,” she said.