New master’s degree programs



Aigerm  Toleukhnova
Staff Writer


The Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) approved three new master’s degree programs at Troy University.

A master of science in biomedical sciences, a master in social science and a master of arts in history have been successfully launched at Troy University.

According to James F. Rinehart, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of international relations, the master of social science was necessary for Troy University.

“There is no other master’s of social science degree program in the state of Alabama,” Rinehart said.

“It is an unusual program because it is interdisciplinary.”

The social science master’s program will provide students with the opportunity to study interdisciplinary issues in the social sciences.

Many issues that confront social scientists could not be put into one particular academic category. These issues may not fit easily into sociology, anthropology, geography, political science or history, independently.

Instead, these issues are broader and more complex, requiring an interdisciplinary response.

“It allows students to study a mixture of different social sciences during their graduate experience,” Rinehart said.

After graduating from the social science program, students can work in social science, demographics and government. Graduates would also be prepared for work as sociologists and anthropologists.

Many who graduate with a masters in social science go on to work as teachers and are able to teach multiple subjects because of their broad training.

“Having graduate students is something that professors really aim towards because it is a source of energy for us,” said Elizabeth Blum, professor of history and associate chair of the Department of History and chair of the graduate committee.

According to Rinehart, the decision to create a master’s degree in history was based on demand from students for such a program.

“A lot of students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree live here and go elsewhere to pursue graduate studies, and they would often say to me, ‘I wish I could stay here in Troy, but you don’t offer this graduate program,’” Rinehart said.

Graduates of this particular discipline can pursue careers in journalism and politics upon receiving a degree in history. They can also work as archivists, work in museums or work at national monuments.

The history program will have two different tracks. Students can take either a thesis track or a non-thesis track. Students must choose a primary field which can be American or European history. Overall, it is a 36-hour degree.

According to Blum, the main difference between a master’s degree in history at Troy and a similar program at other universities in Alabama is that you can do it online.

“That’s a unique thing that allows students to be very flexible and work from home,” Blum said.

Within in the same college, the master’s degree in biomedical sciences was also approved through ACHE.

“We’ve been working on this for about two years,” said Janet Gaston, health professions advisor and biological sciences professor.

“We started working on the degree when we saw that students need more science classes or improvement to their GPAs when applying to health professional schools.”

The degree is mainly aimed at students who wish to pursue a career in the health professions but feel that they need more time before moving on with their professional career.

Gaston said that, in some cases, students just don’t feel ready to make that transition yet. They need more time, and offering them this degree opportunity gives students both additional preparation for professional school and a master’s degree in an applied field, which often “makes them more appealing to professional schools.”

“We started working with the osteopathic school in Dothan, Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine,” Gaston said.

Troy’s biology department partnered with the osteopathic school because they did not have a cadaver lab stationed in McCall Hall. Labs of these sorts are crucial, specifically for anatomical and physiological courses.

However, Gaston feels that this is a big plus because “you’re taught by the medical school. You are studying alongside medical students.”

Currently, there are Troy graduate students who are working on an EBS biology degree, who are taking courses at the osteopathic campus and have also expressed interest in switching their degree choice to the biomedical science track.

“This degree is comparable to programs at LSU and Philadelphia’s College of Osteopathic Medicine,” Gaston said.

“We have modeled this program to these school’s fast track degrees.”

Graduates who are not interested in attending professional schools can work for the state department, for forensics or for biological labs, to name a few.

“Research jobs with the state pay good money,” Gaston said.

“Anything with a biology degree would be good.”

All three programs of study require the applicant to sit for and score well on the GRE.

Questions about each degree can be directed to the office of College of Arts and Sciences, located in McCall 115.

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