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By: Dr. Tara Burcham
Across the nation, working professionals are seeking to advance their careers and broaden their options through higher education. At The University of Southern Mississippi, a fully online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Higher Education Student Affairs offers the flexibility and career relevance many of these students need.
Dr. Holly Foster, advisor for this online master’s degree, says those who choose a career in student affairs are focused on the development of their students. “A career in student affairs is a commitment,” says Foster. “These staff are advising students, managing academic and entertainment programs, and developing future leaders in areas such as residence life, Greek life and student government.”
Foster says student affairs professionals are busy doing administrative work as well as one-on-one interactions with students. “These types of jobs are very demanding. That is why our online Higher Education Student Affairs M.Ed. is fully online,” says Foster. “This saves our students time and money by not having to travel to campus.”
According to Foster, the fully online masters is a perfect fit for community college and university staff working in admissions, academic advising, residence life, student counseling centers, career services, and financial aid, just to mention a few. “Of course the program is a perfect fit for a college staffer looking to improve their resume while also learning new skills to help their students,” says Foster.
One of the many benefits of the program, according to Foster, is that it expands the knowledge of those completing the degree. “We offer the foundational courses, such as administration and student development,” says Foster. “But we also go beyond the basics by offering expanded courses in areas such as social justice, legal issues, and assessment.”
Dr. Tom Hutchinson, director of the Office of Online Learning at Southern Miss, notes that the fully online Higher Education Student Affairs M.Ed. program is filling a void. “Our program is fully online and is meeting the university’s goals of reaching students who cannot make it to campus.”
In addition, Hutchinson says the program is perfect for students who started a master’s degree but did not finish it. “We want to increase the number of students who are earning advanced degrees,” says Hutchinson. “To meet that need, Southern Miss will accept up to 12 hours of transfer credit as long as they were not used toward a previous degree.
Dr. Amy Chasteen, Executive Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, reinforces the benefits of this program to college and university staffers across the nation. “At Southern Miss we focus on quality,” says Chasteen. “We know that those working in student affairs have a passion for higher education. We share that same passion for offering the highest quality degree with faculty dedicated to student success.”
The fully online Higher Education Student Affairs master’s degree requires just 36 hours for completion, in addition to accepting up to 12 hours of qualified transfer credits. For more information, visit https://online.usm.edu/graduate/online-student-affairs-degree/.