Graduate offerings, enrollees increase to align with Horizons 2019
Augustana is “roughly halfway there” to meeting its graduate enrollment target, says Dean of Faculty Jerry Jorgensen.
This goal was 500 students by 2019 in the university’s strategic plan, Horizons 2019. With the current growth in graduate programs over the past five years, in addition to recently approved programs, he believes the school is “well on our way to achieving that goal.”
Currently, Augustana offers four postgraduate programs, including the masters in education, which Jorgensen highlighted as the main source of postgraduate growth.
The program, which included just one group of 12 students during its first year in 2010, now has eight groups of 18, a total of 144 students.
Laurie Daily, the chairwoman of the education department, believes the program’s online nature is a vital factor in its growth.
Augustana offered a master’s degree in special education from 1984-2004 but saw just 78 graduates in that period. In its final six years, it saw just six graduates, which ultimately led to its demise.
Daily credits the online delivery not only with increasing enrollment, but also with widening the university’s national scope.
She says the most popular states for enrollment include Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, while South Dakota students make up around 10 percent of enrollees.
“We’re hoping with a national reach we can advance the mission of Augustana with that program,” Daily said.
In addition to the online approach, Daily believes the program, designed for professional teachers aiming to advance their careers, takes advantage of the growing need for teachers to develop.
Programs such as the masters in education generally lead to re-certification and higher wages.
Following this increase, two more masters programs began: professional accountancy and genetic counseling.
The latter made Augustana one of just 37 American universities to have a program recognized by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling, and according to the program director, Quinn Stein, it has received about 100 applications for next year’s eight slots.
“They come from all over the country,” Stein said. “[They] have good grades, good GRE scores and unique background experience working in labs or for service organizations.”
Illustrating the university’s nationwide outreach, Kayleigh Avello came from Frederick, Md. to take part in the program. She cited the friendliness of the Augustana campus, along with the program’s convenient set up as some of the reasons why it has such a large scope.
“I liked the fact that Augustana and Sanford are so close, making the commute from class to clinic very easy and a lot less stressful,” she said.
Hoping to continue the postgraduate growth, faculty recently approved a Master of Science in Athletic Training program.
Daily hopes a proposed master’s program in special education will be voted on in either May or September.
Even more than the revenue and enrollment, the most compelling part of this growth for Daily is the fulfillment of a fundamental piece of the institution’s mission.
“As a college of the church, we have a focus on the church and equipping people to live out their callings throughout history,” she said. “We’ve been asking questions … as an institution [about] who we’ve been called to serve and how we’re called to serve.”