Irish and US universities launch joint undergraduate programme

Students will spend two years at Trinity College Dublin and two at Columbia University

April 11, 2018
Irish and US flags

Soon, English majors will be able to split their studies between the home cities of James Joyce and James Baldwin. In four years, undergraduates can earn degrees from the oldest university in Ireland and an Ivy League institution in the US.

Trinity College Dublin and Columbia University are launching a new dual BA programme, with the first class matriculating this autumn. The new programme with Trinity is similar to an existing dual undergraduate programme that Columbia established with Sciences Po, in France, in 2010.

“Columbia has had something similar with Sciences Po for the past decade, so it really came about through their experience with having a dual degree with a European university, and there were already research links between Trinity and Columbia,” said Juliette Hussey, the vice-president for global relations at Trinity. “They felt that Trinity was an appropriate university to approach in terms of a high-ranking, research-led university.”

Dr Hussey said she thinks that the dual programme will be an attractive option for students who want to study in Europe but also want a degree from a US institution. Americans are the largest group of international students at Trinity. In autumn 2017, Trinity enrolled 693 Americans, a mix of degree-seeking and study-abroad students.

Columbia and Trinity officials say that they expect to enrol about 40 students in the inaugural dual BA class; about 10 each across four programmes: English studies, European studies, history, and Middle Eastern and European languages and cultures. Students will spend their first two years at Trinity taking classes in their chosen area before heading to Columbia in years three and four to take up a related major.

Victoria Rosner, the dean of academic affairs for Columbia’s School of General Studies, which houses the programme, said that most if not all students in the dual BA programme will complete a senior thesis that will be jointly advised by faculty at Columbia and Trinity.

In addition to the major requirements, students will complete core curriculum requirements for Columbia in years three and four – although Dr Rosner said the expectation is that students will be able to fulfil “a fair number” of their core requirements at Columbia through classes that they take at Trinity.

“We would prefer not to have them do all their core requirements at Columbia,” Dr Rosner said. “It’s better to have the course of study spread over four years, and at the same time they are getting the benefit of working across two different institutions, two different national contexts, two different faculties. The faculty collaboration has, for me, been one of the highlights of this programme. There’s been so much faculty enthusiasm on both sides. Without having begun to bring students from Trinity to Columbia, we’ve already had probably half a dozen different faculty events, Trinity faculty coming here for conferences and presentations and our faculty going there for the same.”

This is an edited version of a story that first appeared on Inside Higher Ed.

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