Ushering in a new wave of digital education, Clark University’s School of Professional Studies has announced the launch of its three master’s degree programs in an online format.
Starting in fall 2019, the Master of Science in Information Technology, Master’s of Public Administration, and Master of Science in Professional Communication will be available online for working adults. SPS’s new online programs will augment the school’s academically rigorous on-campus and hybrid course offerings.
The School of Professional Studies’ (SPS) new dean and associate provost for professional graduate education, John LaBrie, is spearheading the movement to make graduate education more accessible. LaBrie joined Clark University in September and has been working closely with SPS faculty to design and develop the online programs.
Members of the SPS community hope that by removing some of the common barriers facing adult learners, aspiring graduate students will have greater opportunity to enroll and complete their degree. “Online education is one part of a longer path to modernizing the way courses are delivered,” says LaBrie.
For the first time in its history, the university is able to widen its student base to distance learners.
The initiative aligns with the institution’s goal to deliver professional education opportunities to those living beyond the conventional residential population of central Massachusetts. LaBrie explains, “Because Clark has such a distinct academic experience and a unique reputation, students outside of our geographic environment should be able to participate.”
In a fast paced world where “non-traditional” students have become the norm, the announcement is a timely response to the needs of students.
Online program options will provide Clark graduate students an unprecedented level of convenience, flexibility, and mobility. SPS degree programs will be more accessible to the students who cannot relocate due to their current employment or who simply want more control over how they live their lives. “Online education gets rid of the huge expense, when someone has to pause their career, step out of the workforce and relocate to a new community simply to pursue a new educational degree.” LaBrie explains.
SPS’s new online programs will provide students with a rich arsenal of tools, resources, and aids to ensure high-impact learning.
From a technology perspective, the quality of instruction and sophistication of the pedagogy of online instruction has made great advances over the years. The social human element of classroom learning is no longer sacrificed in the online format. LaBrie and SPS faculty have carefully designed a supportive and inclusive online community platform, emulating the close-knit collaborative classroom atmosphere that serves as a cornerstone of Clark’s educational model.
Student and faculty interaction will not be compromised or limited in any way. In fact, students will be able to participate in an arguably more accessible environment. The online programs will allow students to form connections with classmates from a broad geographic base. Students from all over the world will contribute their unique perspectives, ideas, and experiences to the online classroom. “For adult learners, the ability to interact with colleagues who see the world from different lenses adds great value to the learning experience,” LaBrie says.
According to LaBrie, an online student population also opens up an advantageous professional network of colleagues for students. “They’ll be able to take advantage of the social capital that’s created with a student network that’s much broader than the Central Massachusetts environment,” he says.
The SPS online curriculum will be delivered asynchronously, encouraging students to participate in the course on their own schedule. Mirroring traditional on-campus SPS courses, the online curriculum will focus on readings, case studies, and classroom discussions. SPS’s experiential learning components, including project-based Capstone projects and case studies, will be available to students regardless of the delivery modality they choose.
With a variety of evening, accelerated, online, and weekend course options available, the School of Professional Studies has long championed working professionals and other non-traditional student populations. Since 1953, SPS has provided adult learners the opportunity to earn graduate degrees on their timelines. A variety of certificate programs are also available to students who seek to advance their careers, without the time commitment of a full master’s program. The addition of an online instructional modality gives Clark University a new platform to expand its academic reach.
“The digitization of our programs will allow the school to deliver the curriculum in many more innovative ways,” says LaBrie.
Applications for SPS online programs are now open for fall 2019.