Sophia Timba | November 28, 2022

Accelerated Graduation

Student finishes her bachelor’s degree and master’s in only 3.5 years.
Mackenzie Drum

Mackenzie Drum ’21 is wasting no time starting her career. This December, after only three and a half years, she will receive not one, but two biology degrees from SUNY Brockport — a bachelor’s and a master’s — all before she reaches her 22nd birthday.

Drum grew up in Binghamton but was drawn to Brockport by the opportunity to get a head start on her career through an accelerated degree program. “It was definitely unique,” she said, noting that other schools she considered didn’t offer combined degree plans. “They said I could finish my bachelor’s and Master’s in as little as five years.”

It turned out to be even less than that. Between AP courses and community college credits Drum earned through her high school, she stepped onto campus her freshman year already three semesters ahead in her degree.

Mackenzie Drum biology lab

Mackenzie Drum

“I was like a second-semester sophomore,” she said. This head start is what propelled her into completing graduate school in less time than one normally finishes their undergraduate studies.

She urges prospective students to talk to their admissions advisors if they’re interested in a degree plan like this. “For sure I’d recommend it,” she said of the fast-tracked program.

Drum explained how financially advantageous it’s been, as well. While she took a combination of undergraduate and graduate level courses, she continued to only pay undergraduate tuition rates. Then, when she rolled over into full time graduate courses in her final year, her Teaching Assistant job covered the cost of nine out of 10 of her credits.

“I only had to pay for one credit,” she said, not to mention the years of tuition payments she’s reduced from her academic career.

After graduation this winter, Drum plans to look for research jobs in her field. She noted how so many of her classmates intend to go straight into a PhD after graduation. But after completing her master’s degree in nearly half the time it takes a typical student, Drum is planning to take a break from her studies.

“I’m only 21. I have lots of time to go back [to school] if I want. I want to see what’s out there first.”
Mackenzie Drum