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President's Corner

Growing By Degrees

The College’s graduate studies program is expanding as the first doctorates are awarded.

While we remain committed to our focus on undergraduate teaching, the reality of changes in both the marketplace and in professional licensing requirements has made graduate education an even more important part of our academic mix. In just a few short years Ithaca College has made phenomenal strides in the growth of our graduate programs.

Our first foray into postbaccalaureate education began in 1943 with the establishment of a graduate studies department, primarily to prepare teachers for master’s degrees in physical education and music education. In the ensuing decades Ithaca has awarded nearly 5,000 graduate diplomas, and today has 17 different master’s degree programs, in music, communications, business administration, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, physical education, health education, exercise and sport sciences, and sport management.

At this May’s Commencement we will award Ithaca College’s first-ever doctoral degrees, as some 49 students will receive their doctor of physical therapy (D.P.T.) diplomas from the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance. This inaugural class is made up of recent recipients of the College’s B.S./M.S. degrees in physical therapy; freshmen entering the program beginning this fall will be able to fulfill the requirements for a doctoral degree in six years of study.

The D.P.T. program—along with new M.S. degrees initiated this past fall in sport management, health education, and physical education—helped overall graduate enrollment experience unprecedented growth in 2005. A record 420 prospective students applied for graduate study, from which a total of 308 full- and part-time graduate students enrolled. This compares to the 230 enrolled in graduate study just one year earlier.

The School of Business launched a master of business administration degree in 2000, and last year added a degree track in professional accountancy. We have begun offering intensive pre-M.B.A. workshop modules, so that students who have completed undergraduate studies in a field other than business will be prepared to complete our M.B.A. in one year.

The only school currently without a graduate program is the School of Humanities and Sciences. That will be changing this fall when we add a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in five content areas: English, mathematics, modern languages and literatures, sciences, and social studies. The one-year M.A.T. is designed for students who have earned an undergraduate degree in an appropriate major who wish to become initially certified to teach that subject in New York State, which now requires a master’s degree for K–12 teachers.

Planning is well underway for programs offering M.S. degrees in science education and in elementary education, while a master of social work and an additional graduate program in communications are also under consideration. We are committed to increasing opportunities for online learning, so that working professionals can earn continuing education credits. And to help make our offerings even more attractive we are developing a new graduate credit pricing structure. It will be cost effective and will keep Ithaca at a level consistent with national norms and peer institutions.

Our Institutional Plan states as one of its priorities the strengthening and expansion of the College’s graduate academic offerings. We have done that not only by adding degrees, but also by giving greater consideration to graduate students as part of the campus community. In recent years we have instituted a hooding ceremony for degree recipients as part of Commencement weekend, and for the first time last fall we held an orientation program just for incoming graduate students.

These changes serve to strengthen the College by giving more options for undergraduates to continue with their higher education by staying at IC, while at the same time bringing additional talented, motivated students to our campus. Much credit for leading the division through these changes goes to professor of music Greg Woodward, who stepped in as half-time interim dean of graduate studies in 2003–4 and will hold down that post full-time beginning this June. To keep up-to-date on all the exciting activities, please visit the newly revised website at www.ithaca.edu/gradstudies.

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