New graduate programs added

Last fall, the graduate school had an enrollment of 363 students, and during the spring the numbers remained strong with 351. The university is expecting a drastic increase in these demographics with the development of new programs.

The graduate school has announced the beginnings of a new Doctor of Physical Therapy program expected to start in the fall of 2014. Also, two new tracks, Leadership in Nursing Education and Education and Sport Administration, will be included in the Doctor of Education and Master of Science in Education degrees.

What is the significance of these programs being offered now? Dean of the graduate school and Associate Professor of exercise and sport science, Dr. Colin Wilborn, explains it’s all about figuring out which programs will be best suited for the university, which has taken two years of consideration.

“We believe it fits our mission with service. Clearly, physical therapists in their profession are all about service, so it fits with our mission in that way. It allows us to reach a completely different population of students that we haven’t had before. It allows us to spread our reach as Christian higher education,” he said.

Wilborn anticipates a boost in job opportunities for graduate students in upcoming years.

We know the need for physical therapists over the next 10 years is going to increase to 40 percent; job placement is currently 99 percent. So, we know that our graduates are going to have good jobs. They’re going to have good jobs quickly and that they are also the new population of Mary Hardin-Baylor,” he said.

With terminal degrees in nursing education so hard to find at other schools, Wilborn said that including the Ed.D track at the university will fill a void to educate nurse leaders. The program will help nurse educators learn new skills and prepare them to be better teachers.

Prospective graduate students will have plenty of interesting occasions to look forward to..

“They’ll have the opportunity to go to Austin the first summer to be involved in some of the legislative issues that are affecting nursing education. The second summer, they’ll be able to go to Washington and get on a deeper level legislatively with what’s going on in nursing education and how they can make a difference with that,” said Associate Professor and Director of the master’s of science and nursing programs Dr. Carrie Johnson.

She also said students involved in the new nursing track will get the chance to study abroad at a later time.

With the DPT program being largely based on clinical experience, students interested in the new degree will get a chance for research opportunities. They will also be able to spend most of their time in clinical environments.

Director of graduate admissions Melissa Ford thinks it’s the experience of the environment itself that will help prospective students gravitate toward choosing graduate school.

“One of the distinctive things about these new programs, as well as the current programs, is that we have small classes,” she said.

The scheduling for the courses is still in its tentative stage, but that isn’t stopping the big news from creating a buzz around campus.

Johnson said, “We’re really excited about the expansion. Our graduate programs are growing and growing, and our future is just so bright here at the university with our graduate school.”

Author: April Littleton

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