Bluefield College to Offer Master's Degrees
In what might be considered the school’s most significant academic advancement since becoming a four-year college in 1975, Bluefield College has been approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to offer master’s degrees beginning in the fall of 2013.
December 12, 2012
President David Olive
Students in Bluefield College's School of Education now have the opportunity to pursue a master's degree in education, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Donna Watson (right), who spearheaded the development of the school's first ever master's degree program.
Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert Shippey
The college will begin its master’s level instruction within one of its most recognized and critically acclaimed programs, the School of Education, with a master of arts degree in education (MAEd).
“This is a tremendous step for Bluefield College in its maturation as a school of higher education,” said BC president Dr. David Olive. “Now, nearly 40 years after earning accreditation to offer the baccalaureate degree, the college is expanding its program opportunities to include degrees at the master’s level.”
Founded as a junior college in 1922, Bluefield College originally offered only associate degrees in subjects like business and engineering until transitioning to a four-year degree granting institution in 1975 with added majors in English, history, religion, and behavioral science. Now, nearly four decades later with 44 majors of study, the school will enroll its first-ever graduate students and offer its first-ever master’s degree.
“Much recognition and gratitude are extended to Dr. Donna Hardy Watson, dean of the School of Education, and to Dr. Robert Shippey, vice president for academic affairs, and many others who led this effort to the point of successful approval,” said Dr. Olive, “and on the first attempt, too.”
The master’s in education will be offered through BC’s School of Education. After achieving national accreditation in 2009 and receiving Virginia Department of Education approval to offer teaching licenses in special education: general curriculum in 2011, the School of Education immediately went to work on the approval process for master’s degrees in education for practicing teachers and for those with bachelor’s degrees who desire a teaching license. The yearlong process involved writing curriculum, gathering data, and contacting prospective faculty for the master’s program.
With an initial emphasis on helping current students develop teaching excellence, future plans involve securing Virginia Department of Education approval for offering teaching licenses at the master’s degree level. The School of Education’s high standard of excellence since 1977 provides a strong foundation for the next level of teacher development.
“We are very pleased that our commitment to academic excellence has been recognized by our peer evaluative body (SACSCOC) resulting in this significant milestone for the college,” said Dr. Shippey. “Our School of Education has been a flagship program at Bluefield College that has been preparing skilled, compassionate teachers for many years. Naturally, this new graduate program initiative was a logical next step. Our outstanding education faculty are to be commended for their hard work and vision.”
BC’s School of Education already offers undergraduate programs for teacher licensure in Elementary EducationPreK-6, 6-12 (biology, business, chemistry, English, history, information technology, mathematics, and history/social sciences), PreK-12 (art, health and physical education, instrumental music and vocal/choral music), and SpecialEducation: General Curriculum, K-12. The program is approved by the Virginia Department of Education and nationally accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC), certifying it provides evidence of adherence to accreditation quality principles. Plans are in progress to offer the first master’s level courses in an online format in the fall of 2013.
“I am so excited to receive the news that the Bluefield College School of Education can proceed to the nextlevel in offering master’s degrees in education in addition to our four-year teaching license programs,” said Dr. Watson. “As a graduate of Bluefield College, launching this new program in teacher education is a special joy.”
The SACSCOC approval to offer master’s degrees comes just weeks after BC announced plans to create a new dental school and on the heels of the introduction of a new special education curriculum, new nursing program and eight new online degrees. Designed to provide affordable dental education to students while delivering clinical outreach dental care to an underserved population, the new dental school is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015. Earning the SACSCOC endorsement for master’s degrees now, said Dr. Olive, will greatly assist the school when it comes time to seek endorsement to offer the doctor of dentalmedicine (DMD) degree.
“We have much for which to be thankful, and this recognition today to allow our expanding program offerings is a great testament to the quality of our faculty and academic programs,” said Dr. Olive. “The future of Bluefield College is very bright.”