New opportunities for students

By Michaele Whelan
Wheaton College President

Wheaton’s commitment to delivering a transformative education sets the stage for the college’s consistent growth and evolution.

Wheaton’s practice of combining Commencement and Reunion underscores the power of community. When the graduates march to their seats at the start of the ceremony, they pause, forming two lines through which alumni who have returned for their reunion process through the graduating class, taking their seats ahead of the soon-to-be graduates. The moment vividly illustrates the sense of tradition and continuity that is part of Wheaton’s ethos. 

And yet for all that remains the same, the college continues to evolve. In fact, it is precisely because of our commitment to delivering a transformative education for students that Wheaton is constantly growing, learning and evolving. That’s never been more true than this summer, when we are launching two new initiatives to significantly enhance students’ learning and offer opportunities to go beyond undergraduate education.   

Building on Wheaton’s historical emphasis on personalized advising and experiential learning, the college is opening the Life and Career Design Institute, which aims to engage all students—from their first days on campus to graduation—in a holistic and integrated approach to practice-based learning and career planning as a part of life design. Under the leadership of Sean Schofield, Ph.D., our inaugural Assistant Vice President for Life and Career Design, the institute will collaborate with faculty and staff to engage students proactively. It also will create new avenues for Wheaton alums to network and serve as mentors and internship providers for today’s students.

At the same time, the college will soon offer students the opportunity to pursue an accelerated program leading to a Master of Science in Business, a Master of Arts in Creative Industries or a Master of Science Environmental Science through an innovative new 4+1 master’s program.  

Starting with the Class of 2026, Wheaton students will be eligible to enroll in this accelerated program. Once admitted into the program, they will begin taking graduate-level courses during their senior year. Then, after earning their bachelor’s degree, they can take two master’s courses the summer after their senior year, and then head off to jobs where they can take two online courses in the fall and spring semesters. By fast-tracking their undergraduate and graduate degrees in five years, students will save valuable time and financial resources. Plus, they’ll enter the workforce with the potential for higher earnings and faster career advancement.

This innovative design, which was recently approved for accreditation by the New England Commission of Higher Education, reflects our ongoing commitment to evolving the college’s programs to better serve students. That objective has informed the establishment of new academic programs, such as nursing and communications, and new athletic offerings, such as our men’s and women’s fencing and water polo teams. 

The college also continues to enhance existing programs and resources for students’ benefit. Another important priority is increased investment in Wheaton’s campus—particularly residence halls and our outdoor spaces. This beautiful campus of ours is central to Wheaton’s heritage and identity. We must maintain and modernize the spaces where students, faculty, and staff live, learn, and grow. 

These new initiatives reflect Wheaton’s very reason for being: providing an outstanding education in the liberal arts and sciences that prepares students for purposeful, abundant lives and evolving careers. We know that you are partners in making that possible. We appreciate your support, which helps ensure the success of our students today and the success of the college for future students. Whether your student graduated in May or will be arriving on campus this fall (a warm Wheaton welcome to our incoming Class of 2028 parents and family!), you and your family are lifetime members of the Wheaton community. And the Dimple will be a home for all throughout time.