News & Events
MHC Now Accepting Applications for Master’s Program
This summer will mark a turning point for Mars Hill College and its students, as it leaves behind its status as a baccalaureate institution and offers its first graduate degree: the Master of Education (M.Ed.)
Applications are available now for students in the first group of graduate students, for whom classes will begin in May. Prospective students are recent education graduates who hold a teaching license or practicing teachers who wish to add the master’s degree to their credentials.
“This is a logical step for an institution of our size to take,” said Executive Vice President John Wells. “For quite some time, we have been receiving requests from both students and alumni to explore this direction, and we’re trying to respond to those needs.”
Wells said the program also comes in response to the ongoing partnership that Mars Hill College enjoys with the local public school systems in the counties around the college. “The partnership between Mars Hill College and the surrounding area is quite frankly one of the best things we do,” Wells said. “In particular, meeting the needs of our nearby public school districts and public school teachers is very important to us, and this master’s program is just another point of connection in that partnership tradition.”
The graduate program will be administered through the adult education program, formerly known as ACCESS (Accelerated Credit/Continuing Education/Summer School). In concert with the opening of the graduate program, the ACCESS program will change its name to Mars Hill College Adult and Graduate Studies, effective February 1.
According to Marie Nicholson, dean of MHC Adult and Graduate Studies, the name change will better represent the expanded offerings of the program. “For the past decade we have operated under the name of ACCESS, and it has served us well,” she said. “This name change will reflect our new role and incorporate our graduate students into the adult student body.”
Traditionally, education has been one of Mars Hill College’s most popular majors. Among traditional-age students, education majors (including elementary, middle-grades, English as a second language and special education) form the second largest major group at the college. By contrast, nearly half of Mars Hill’s adult students are pursuing education majors at some level.
According to Dr. Tom Destino, Mars Hill College professor of education, and chair of the Division of Education and Physical Education, the master’s program at Mars Hill has a concentration in elementary (K-6) education and consists of 36 required credit hours (12, 3-hour courses). A unique aspect of the Mars Hill master’s program is an optional seminar for those students who wish to prepare for National Board licensure.
Destino sees the new graduate program as a way to elevate the profile of Mars Hill College, as well as its graduates. “This program will provide undergraduate education majors a direct pipeline to graduate education leading to a significantly higher starting salary as a teacher. This is especially important in this difficult economy as some students may see the benefits of completing the advanced degree as they wait for the economy to recover and for more teaching jobs to open,” he said.
Dr. Deb Morris, chair of the Department of Education, said that the master’s program may draw even more undergraduate education majors to Mars Hill. “The presence of a master’s program raises the prestige of the undergraduate program in education by demonstrating to undergraduate students and their parents that they will encounter advanced options here at Mars Hill,” she said.
Students will be admitted to the master’s program based on a cohort model, rather than on a rolling admissions model, Destino said. That means that a “cohort” of students will enter the graduate program each summer, and that group of students will move through all classes and phases of the program together.
“There are many advantages to the cohort model,” Destino said. “There will be mutual academic, emotional and logistical support for students and an emphasis on camaraderie and collaborative learning which will allow like-minded professionals to draw on their common work experiences and interests in class.”
According to Morris, the program was designed with the hope that local teachers who go through the program will form lasting personal ties and professional networks that will continue to aid their career development and professional growth for the rest of their working lives.
Because so many of the adult students at Mars Hill are education majors, Nicholson said it will be a “seamless transition” for those graduates to continue their education through the graduate level.
And, because all classes for the graduate program will be offered in the evening, it should be convenient for teachers in area school systems, Nicholson said. “The M.Ed. program will enable already dedicated, excellent teachers to become even more effective as they enhance their knowledge and skills,” she said.
Administrators say they hope the master’s in education will be the first of several graduate-level programs to be offered at Mars Hill College. “We are currently in conversation regarding other possibilities for graduate programs including, specifically, master’s program in social work and counseling,” Wells said.
Tuition for the master’s in education program will be affordable and comparable to competitor institutions in the region with similar programs, according to Wells.
For more information about the master’s of education program, contact Mars Hill College Adult and Graduate Studies, 828/689-1166, or email Marie Nicholson at email@example.com.