By Nathan Driskell, Student Reporter
This fall, three new master’s degrees will be available to graduate students at ACU: a master’s in higher education, emphasizing college student affairs; a Master of Arts in conflict resolution and reconciliation; and a Master of Education in leadership of learning.
These degrees are now open for enrolment.
Dr. Carol Williams, dean of the Graduate School, said the new programs are designed for specialized areas.
“All four of these programs build on areas where we’re strong and seeking to build a niche – something that isn’t out there already,” Williams said.
The Master of Arts in conflict resolution and reconciliation and Master of Education in leadership of learning are the first master’s programs offered entirely online as a part of ACU WorldWide, the university’s distance education program.
Williams said these distance education courses are ideal for working adults with families anywhere in the country.
“We’re looking to provide education for people who could not or would not come to Abilene for some reason,” Williams said.
While some courses in the Graduate School of Theology have non-residential programs available, Williams said what sets apart the new master’s programs is the minimal on-site instruction.
“The master’s degree in conflict resolution and reconciliation is a 36-hour online degree. All the courses are online, but it has two one-week residencies,” Williams said.
Driving in for two one-week sessions would be much easier than uprooting a family, she said.
The Master of Education in leadership of learning, a degree for school principals, was offered at ACU as an on-site program until recently.
Williams said although current students will be able to finish their degrees, the on-site program is being eliminated and converted to an online degree plan.
“Abilene is in a region of the state where the population is decreasing, the number of principals is decreasing, and we want to reach out to people. We can definitely do that with online graduate degrees,” Williams said.
The Master of Education in leadership of learning is one of the only courses to integrate conflict resolution into the degree plan, Williams said.
A unique feature of the distance education degrees is their set tuition price, which includes textbooks, shipping and a video iPod to use for course work. The iPod feature is designed to help working adults maximize their time.
“If they’re driving in the car, watching their kid’s soccer game, if they’re working out or whatever, they can be studying at the same time,” Williams said.
The master’s degree in higher education with an emphasis in college student affairs is designed to prepare graduates “for roles like residence life director, academic adviser, international student coordinator, financial aid counselor, intramural director,” Williams said.
Also, the Master’s of Social Work is undergoing the accreditation process, and for students with an undergraduate degree in social work, the degree would only take one year to complete.
The Master’s of Social Work program should be ready by fall 2007, Williams said.