Sitting in the freshly renovated area on the top floor of the library, Dr. Stephen Johnson tells about changes happening in ACU’s graduate programs that go beyond the shiny wood floors and freshly painted offices.
The graduate school is planning to launch new programs for online graduate degrees within the year.
“We’re very excited about both the combination of new programs and some existing ones that we think are really high qualities that now can be offered to more students online,” said Johnson, dean of the graduate school.
The graduate school plans to launch online programs for a doctor of education in organizational leadership (pending SACS accreditation), a master in marriage and family therapy and an online certificate in medical family therapy.
The Graduate School of Theology plans to offer some of its existing degrees online including a masters of divinity, a master of arts in Christian ministry and a master of arts in global studies, all of which are pending accreditation with the Association of Theological Schools.
Additionally, an online master of business administration is in the proposal stage and expected to launch this fall. The MBA has yet to be approved by university faculty councils and the faculty as a whole.
Johnson said ACU is distinctive in that it wants to give people the knowledge and skills they need to advance their career while also allowing them to grow in their understanding of their work as a response to God’s call.
“Our aim is to identify and launch programs for a non-traditional or non-residential adult learner,” he said. “It’s about extending ACU’s mission to include those students.
Renovating the space in the library came as part of the campus-wide relocation of departments and offices during construction, but it also acts as a way to reposition the profile of the graduate school on campus.
“While we want to extend ACU’s graduate school online, we are equally committed to a focus or profile of unique programs that are designed specifically for ACU students to tie their undergraduate experience residentially here,” he said. “The commons area allows us to be accessible to the students here and to partner with them in their career as they finish their undergraduate degree.”
Katie Cranfill, senior Spanish major from Copperas Cove, plans to begin the masters in global studies online after she graduates in May.
Cranfill said she is part of a mission team moving to Peru, so the online program would work for her.
“I obviously can’t do it on campus,” she said. “It’s cool because you can do it wherever you are and you can intern as a missionary while you’re doing the program.”
Johnson said the online programs would also help diversify and grow revenue for the university.
“The way that we are approaching that is through these programs that are in our 2015 schedule to roll out,” he said. “I think it’s one part of thinking about what it means to be a university in the 21st century.”