Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
College of Special Studies, 1939
The College of Special Studies began in 1939. It serves as the administrative home of programs for continuing education and certain special degree and certificate programs at Tufts. It began as the Division of University Extension, to provide professional education for students unable to attend a regular schedule of classes. Classes were offered evenings and weekends.
The first classes offered by the Division of University Extension were designed to supplement the offerings of the Department of Education and were geared toward elementary and secondary school teachers in search of additional academic training. In 1940, a degree of bachelor of science in education was offered based on courses offered in the extension division.
Enrollment in the extension division was open to anyone with a high school diploma. Faculty, staff, and family members could enroll in courses for a reduced fee. Graduate students could also take advantage of the division's offerings to supplement courses in the regular curriculum.
Over the years, the Division of University Extension became the home for a number of programs which did not seem to fit elsewhere in the University structure, including a community lecture series in which faculty delivered lectures open to the general public, the Institute for Educational Guidance, and the Tufts College Nursery School. In 1944, the Extension Division co-sponsored with Mr. and Mrs. Donald R. MacJannet a six-week long "Vacation School of French" geared toward training workers to assist in rehabilitation efforts in post-war France. The Extension Division also administered Tufts' participation in the Lowell Institute Broadcasting Council, an organization founded in 1946 to make available to the general public via radio and television some of the resources of Boston-area institutions of higher education.
The Extension Division administered Tufts' affiliations with several professional schools in the area, including the Bouvé-Boston School of Physical Education, the Boston School of Occupational Therapy, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, the Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists, and the Nursery Training School of Boston, later renamed the Eliot Pearson School. Through their affiliation with the Tufts Extension Division, students at these schools could work toward the bachelor of science in education degree by taking Extension courses in addition to the coursework required by their own schools.
As enrollments in the evening and weekend classes offered by the extension division began to decline in the late 1940s, the division was renamed the Division of Special Studies in 1949.Under its new name, the division focused on administering the affiliations with the professional schools under its aegis, rather than promoting course offerings for the general public.
In 1956 the program with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts was changed to offer a B.F.A. degree after a four year course of study.
Following a University-wide self study in 1958, the character, scope, and mission of the Division of Special Studies changed significantly. In an effort to improve the academic rigors of the affiliated programs, each was offered the option either of integration into the University or complete separation. The Eliot Pearson School became the Department of Child Study, and the Boston School of Occupational Therapy was integrated into Tufts. The Bouvé-Boston School and the Forsyth School joined with Northeastern University. Evening classes virtually ceased to be offered at this time.
By 1960 the College of Special Studies had ten subdivisions and a total enrollment of more than 850 students, generating an annual gross income of almost a quarter of a million dollars. During the 1960s and 1970s, the College of Special Studies took on the administration of the university's overseas study programs. This function was transferred to the university in the 1970s.
In 1990, the college established divisions of Professional and Continuing Studies and Graduate Special Student Program.
As of 2000, the College of Special Studies operates in two main areas. It administers the dual-degree program with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, which offers a bachelors degree from Tufts and a bachelor of fine arts from the Museum School in a five year course of study. It also oversees the Office of Professional and Continuing Studies. The Office of Professional and Continuing Studies administers the Graduate Special Student Program which enables individuals with a baccalaureate degree to enroll in courses at Tufts to prepare for further study or simply to expand their knowledge of particular fields or disciplines. Within the program, the office administers a series of advanced professional certificate programs on selected topics, including a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program for students with little or no science work in their undergraduate curriculum who are interested in pursuing graduate study in the health sciences.
Source: LOH1; LOH2; BTU