On Monday, Yale-NUS announced the launch of a new partnership with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore: a concurrent degree program in public policy for students at the young college.
The program, which will accept roughly five students, is slated to begin in August 2016. Students will be able to apply to the program during the second semester of their third year at Yale-NUS, and selected students will graduate with an honors B.A. or B.S. degree from Yale-NUS and a master’s degree from the LKY School in public policy.
Though this new offering is the first concurrent degree Yale-NUS will offer in public policy, it is not the first dual degree option the school has made available to its students. In addition, Yale-NUS offers a concurrent degree program with the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and a double degree program in law with the NUS Faculty of Law.
Yale-NUS professor Khoo Hoon Eng, who was on a Yale-NUS faculty task force that proposed the concurrent degree program with the LKY School, said that although concurrent degree candidates will continue to gain a liberal arts education at Yale-NUS, their degree in public policy will be a professional degree. Furthermore, she said the skills learned in Yale-NUS’s liberal arts-focused program and the LKY School’s public policy-focused program should inform each other.
“As the [concurrent degree] program builds upon the skills learned and refined across [students’] four years of undergraduate work here at Yale-NUS, it complements the liberal arts and sciences curriculum we offer. We see it as a good opportunity for our students and one that allows us to expand the curriculum avenues we offer,” Khoo said.
Yale-NUS students interviewed said they were enthusiastic about the upcoming concurrent degree option.
Walter Yeo YNUS ’17, who is currently enrolled in Yale-NUS’s double degree program in law, said that even though the public policy program was just announced, he already knows students who are interested. Kevin Low YNUS ’17 said this concurrent degree option will allow Yale-NUS students to apply their liberal arts educations in a meaningful way.
“The whole point of the liberal arts and sciences program here at Yale-NUS is to be able to apply your broad base of foundational learning to an area which you would like to focus on, and I think this program would do that,” he said. “I don’t think it undermines [Yale-NUS’s] ‘liberal arts status’ at all.”
Jason Carlo Carranceja YNUS ’18 said he thinks the new concurrent degree option will expand the academic options for students majoring in Global Affairs and Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Yale-NUS, which are two of the college’s most popular majors. He also said the program will give students the experience of lecture courses, a novel experience for many since Yale-NUS classes are mostly seminars. However, he did caution that students who enroll in the new concurrent degree will face a difficult commute to their NUS classes, which will be located a little under an hour away from Yale-NUS by bus.
Jacob Schneidewind YNUS ’18 said he thinks that by combining a liberal arts model with field-specific training in public policy, the concurrent degree may encourage future alums to approach Singaporean policymaking in a way that is more influenced by liberal thought. However, he said he is wary of the overlap of the first year of the master’s degree program with students’ senior year at Yale-NUS.
“The [double degree program in law] shows us that it is difficult to handle two degree-granting programs at the same time. In the case of DDP students, this currently leads to a sacrifice of liberal arts education at Yale-NUS (in the form of a significantly reduced number of electives) to spend enough time at NUS Law,” Schneidewind wrote in an email. “A similar situation could occur in the fourth year of Yale-NUS-LKYSPP students.”
The LKY School enrolls about 400 students every year. It is named after Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore, who died on March 23.