After almost two years of planning, Worcester State launched three online Master’s of Education programs on Monday, May 18, the first of several new online graduate programs planned over the next few years. Graduate students can now earn three different degrees online in the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education: Master’s of Education in Elementary Education , Master’s of Education in Early Childhood Education , and Master’s of Education in Moderate Disabilities .
“Education is one of the highest in-demand fields when it comes to online master’s programs in the commonwealth,” says Associate Dean for Distance and Global Education Madeline Campbell, Ph.D. “Online programs can open doors and create pathways for students who would be unable to do this in person. It really is an equity issue.”
“We are very excited to be taking this next step in our graduate program offerings. By offering 100 percent online degrees, we are able to reach many students who may not have the ability to work face-to-face graduate programs into their lives. Worcester State has always been committed to accessibility,” says Dr. Roberta Kyle, the Dean of Graduate Studies. “These programs open up even more access to our excellent academic programs. We look forward to expanding these offerings in the coming year.”
Although the University is working with an external partner on technical logistics, the courses will be taught by the same Worcester State faculty who have built the Barbara (Hickey) O’Brien ’57 Education Department into one of the most highly respected in the state.
“When we started planning, we had marathon meetings and day-long workshops talking about our core values—what were the program-level outcomes we could not live without, and what were the areas where we could innovate, experiment, and change with this new way of teaching,” says Campbell.
“We are very excited to launch our new master’s programs. The faculty have worked extremely hard to assure that we offer engaging, high-quality courses that meet our students’ needs as early childhood, elementary, and moderate disabilities teachers,” says Christina Kaniu, associate professor of education and chair of the department. “We made sure that our online students would be getting a high-quality, comprehensive, and affordable education that mirrors the values and goals of our on-campus programs and Worcester State University.”
“There are some unique things an online environment can give us. Discussions are different because all of our students are actively teaching in school districts all over the state. There’s more of an opportunity to share and learn from each other,” Campbell says.
Degrees can be completed in 14 months by taking a sequence of seven-week courses.
While the COVID-19 pandemic did delay the launch of the program, originally planned for March, the new normal also proved the utility of online learning, opening the option to those who might not have considered it in the past. More than 40 students have started in the program already—more than double the original enrollment target—with another 25 planning to begin in July or September.
A Master’s of Education in Leadership, for those looking for leadership training to become a principal or superintendent, will launch next year. Online master’s degrees in nursing and an R.N. to B.S.N. program are slated to begin next year as well.