Master’s Program Approved for Concord College
Athens, W.Va. - On Friday, April 19, the Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) approved a plan by Concord College for a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree effective with the 2003 fall semester.
HEPC approval was given pending the attainment of all commission standards for offering graduate degrees. Approval of the program on Friday was a landmark for the College, as well as the residents of southeastern West Virginia.
Concord College President Jerry Beasley: "First of all, I would like to thank Dr. Kathy Liptak, chairperson of the College’s division of education, for the tremendous efforts she extended toward the design and structure of this program. Her boundless enthusiasm for quality improvements in teacher education is evident in the plan that the HEPC approved.
"Moreover, I would like to thank the Carter Foundation in Beckley for its million dollar commitment in the support of teacher education, the Walker Foundation in Beckley, and the Board of Directors of the old State College System for providing funding for the feasibility study and support to help us upgrade our library holdings—so necessary in supporting this type of program.
"This Master’s program is really responsive to the legislative intent of Senate Bill 653, to provide better access to graduate programs in southeastern West Virginia, and is principally designed to impact teachers and students in the public schools.
"The program will provide a content- or discipline-based Master’s program that is aimed at improving teachers’ knowledge of the fields they teach. We believe our program will ultimately impact what students learn.
Beasley continued, "Of course one of the intents is to help teachers in their pursuit of being life-long scholars in the fields they teach. Our program will, for the first time, provide convenient access to teachers in southeastern West Virginia and southwestern Virginia, to a Master’s program. I think it is going to solidify the longtime partnership we have had with teachers in this region.
"The principal variable that is related to student learning is the quality of teacher that students have. We think that teachers will be more effective upon completion of this program. It makes us a partner and therefore we share a responsibility with the public schools of our area for the performance of their students."
The program is a 36-credit program in education, with a substantial subject area base. Fifteen of the credits are in professional education, with one three-credit course focusing on a research project in the subject area. Initially, an additional fifteen hours are selected from a content area of behavioral science, geography, or social studies. Those students choosing the elementary/middle education track select the courses from two of the subject areas; those in the middle/secondary education track select the courses from one of the areas. Students must also complete at least six hours of electives from either the professional education or subject area curriculum.
Additional content areas are being reviewed for possible incorporation into the program as it develops. All faculty teaching the courses and the professional education courses will hold doctoral degrees.
"The charge to higher education is to increase the educational attainment levels in the state to the national average," Higher Education Chancellor J. Michael Mullen said. "The national average of educational attainment is 16.1 percent with bachelor’s degrees and 9 percent with graduate or professional degrees. West Virginia’s average is 8.7 percent for bachelor’s degrees and 5.5 percent for graduate or professional degrees. The Higher Education Policy Commission’s authorization of this master’s degree at Concord College is a notable step in making graduate education available to the citizens of the state."