A matter of degrees

Top business student to receive master’s before bachelor’s with help of combined program, quirk in commencement scheduling

Dylan Diede

Dylan Diede, originally of Glen Ullin, N.D., grades papers in Gamble Hall as part of his duties as a graduate assistant. Diede is one of the few students taking advantage of the applied economics combined program, allowing him to complete both undergraduate and graduate credits for an expedited graduation. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

It was always his goal to earn a master’s degree, but it’s unlikely his goal was to earn it before his bachelor’s.

What, you say?

Yes, that’s right. Today, on the commencement stage, Dylan Diede will receive his master’s in applied economics a day ahead of his bachelor’s in banking and financial economics degree. The seemingly unconventional order of events is possible because, about a year and half ago, Diede entered a “combined” College of Business & Public Administration (CoBPA) program that allowed him earn both graduate and undergraduate credits at the same time.

Then there’s the part that’s out of Diede’s control: UND’s graduation week schedule has the School of Graduate Studies’ commencement proceedings taking place the day before the undergraduate event, which is set for Friday.

Business mind

“When I came to UND, it was because I heard they had a great entrepreneurship program,” said Diede, originally from Glen Ullin, N.D. “I pursued that for around three years but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do afterwards.”

After taking a money and banking course, his affinity for business drew him to a banking & financial economics degree. It wasn’t until nearing graduation that he was approached by professors about the school’s Masters of Science in Applied Economics (MSAE) degree.

“Getting my master’s was a goal I’ve had since I was younger, so I thought it would be a great next step,” said Diede.

He just didn’t realize the steps would be technically reversed.

Best of the best

The CoBPA’s implementation of a combined MSAE program follows the second goal of UND’s Strategic Plan of increasing undergraduate, graduate and professional graduation rates. The University is looking for ways to increase the amount of these five-year programs available to students.

One of the recruiting professors was Cullen Goenner, professor of macroeconomics, with whom Diede has built a strong working relationship. As a graduate assistant, Diede grades homework, proctors exams and assists in research projects.

“We recruit students in their third or fourth year of studies who are identified by faculty as potential candidates,” Goenner said of the combined program. “Those are students who have done really well in our intermediate-level economics courses.

“For some students, they’ve been able to complete their entire undergraduate and graduate degree in four years.”

Though, Goenner noted, such a pace is the exception, rather than the norm. They take only those who are motivated, have a love for learning and a passion for economics.

“Dylan’s the best of the best,” Goenner said. “He’s an individual we like to recruit because not only is he a good student, but he gives back to his community. He’s always someone who wants to help and do more.”

Dylan Diede's participation in the combined MSAE program is something UND hopes to see more of when it comes to increasing graduation rates under the Strategic Plan. The University is looking for ways to increase the presence of these opportunities. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

Dylan Diede’s participation in the combined MSAE program is something UND hopes to see more of when it comes to increasing graduation rates under the Strategic Plan. The University is looking for ways to increase the amount of such opportunities. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

Family matters

Making his way through the combined program was a matter of balance, according to Diede. The additional course load, on top of his duties as a graduate assistant, kept him on his toes.

“I like to get up early, personally,” Diede said of his keys to success. “I feel like you can be a lot more productive in your day when you get up early and get at it.”

Diede also emphasized the role of faith and fitness in his day-to-day routine.

When asked about his family’s reaction to earning both degrees, Diede said it didn’t come as a surprise.

“They’ve known that’s who I am,” he said. “The motivation I have is from my parents. They’ve always been supportive in everything I’ve done and encouraged me to do my best.

“If I need advice they’re there for me. I couldn’t ask for better parents.”

This year’s graduation isn’t just Dylan’s show for the Diede family. His sister Paige, a year younger, receives her degree in accounting at the same time.

“We’re really close,” Diede said of his younger sibling. “She’s one of my best friends and it’s been sweet having her around.”

“I am extremely proud of my brother,” his sister told UND Today. “Not only is he intelligent and a hard worker, but a man of integrity and great character. He is also my best friend so the fact that we get to graduate together, even though he is older, is exciting!”