(Source: University of Nebraska)
Be careful when declaring your major next fall. It could cost you.
So says a recent New York Times article, which details a growing trend among public universities to charge more for certain majors.
Should an undergraduate studying business pay more than one studying psychology? Should a journalism degree cost more than one in literature? More and more public universities, confronting rising costs and lagging state support, have decided that the answers may be yes and yes.
Starting this fall, juniors and seniors pursuing an undergraduate major in the business school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will pay $500 more each semester than classmates. The University of Nebraska last year began charging engineering students a $40 premium for each hour of class credit.
And arizona state university this fall will phase in for upperclassmen in the journalism school a $250 per semester charge above the basic $2,411 tuition for in-state students.
Such moves are being driven by the high salaries commanded by professors in certain fields, the expense of specialized equipment and the difficulties of getting state legislatures to approve general tuition increases, university officials say.
"It is something of a trend," said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.
Even as they embrace such pricing, many officials acknowledge they are queasy about a practice that appears to value one discipline over another or that could result in lower-income students clustering in less expensive fields.
"This is not the preferred way to do this," said Patrick V. Farrell, provost at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "If we were able to raise resources uniformly across the campus, that would be a preferred move. But with our current situation, it doesn't seem to us that that's possible."
Some majors, like biology and chemistry, have long charged extra for lab fees and such. So what's new? Still, we'll see if this "trend" continues and if the cost differentials grow.