Western’s first master’s in applied science
Missouri Western State University will begin offering a professional masterâ€™s degree in the fall.
Provost Joseph Bragin announced at the Board of Governorâ€™s meeting on Thursday that the Missouri Department of Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools have approved Westernâ€™s master of applied science degree.
Jeanne Daffron, who is the vice president of academic and student affairs, has been named the interim dean of the graduate school.
â€œIâ€™ll do this on an interim basis, and weâ€™ll hire someone in about a year,â€ she said.
In a press release, Bragin said the masterâ€™s programs are unique throughout the state, and applied learning is the emphasis.
Daffron said that developing programs with an emphasis on applied learning was possible due to the commitment of regional government, business and industry, as well as faculty and administration. She said that applied learning, which 80 percent of Western students currently experience, is important so that students are not just sitting in the classroom to learn.
â€œThose graduates can hit the ground running and contribute significantly,â€ Daffron said.
According to the press release, traditional masterâ€™s programs focus on advance disciplinary knowledge, whereas Westernâ€™s programs will provide that, as well as â€œcross-trainingâ€ in management, communications and technology.
Emphasizing applied learning as part of its identity was a directive of the state Legislature when Western was designated a university in 2005.
â€œWe feel that this fulfills our unique statewide mission of applied learning,â€ Bragin said in the press release. Bragin also said that Western will work closely with post-graduate employers in developing curriculum.
Jason Baker, associate professor of biology, was the chairperson of the Graduate Studies Committee made up of Western faculty that developed the graduate policies, procedures and curriculum.
â€œThis process is like an onion with many layers,â€ he said.
The university must be approved by the Higher Learning Commission to offer quality masterâ€™s programs. Many meetings and a visit by the Commission garnered the university approval last summer to offer post-bachelorâ€™s degree certificates.
Administrators expected a vote in mid-December by the Department of Higher Education, but there was not a quorum of members present, so they could not vote, Baker said.
He said there are three options under the master of applied science: chemistry, human factors and usability testing and information technology management. The construction of the science and technology incubator on campus, scheduled for completion this year, will â€œcreate a tremendous amount of synergyâ€ with the graduate programs, Bragin said in the press release.
â€œThe science and technology incubator will be a very important component to the graduate degree in applied science,â€ he said.