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Earn a Master's Degree at Home:
Internet Programs Slated for Summer I

Relax at home, have a cup of coffee, and complete a master's degree via the Internet. This may sound like a fantasy for some students but will soon become a reality at Sam Houston State University.

Earlier this month, the SHSU Board of Regents approved the last step necessary for the implementation of a master's degree that can be obtained completely on-line, putting the university on the cutting-edge of technological advances. Beginning Summer Session I, SHSU will provide a full Master of Arts Degree in Military History and Master of Education Degree in Reading on-line.

Using this entirely computer-based approach, students who meet graduate program qualifications will be given the opportunity to obtain a degree without ever attending a traditional class.

History chair James Olson heads the team of five faculty members involved in developing the military history coursework. Olson explained, "Ways to increase enrollment have been encouraged by the university. Our most popular courses are military history, by far. We put our heads together and came up with this."

The degree will include 24 hours of coursework and 6 hours of thesis work or 36 hours of coursework if a thesis is not done.

By not attending traditional classes, the program allows students to never leave their home in order to obtain a degree. Benefits include the opportunity to study 24 hours a day, convenience of not traveling, learning through the latest innovative multimedia strategies, interaction with a virtual cohort of peers, and the opportunity to study under qualified instructors.

Click here to view SHSU's Top Ten Reasons to Try an Online Course

Hollis Lowery-Moore of Language, Literacy, and Special Populations coordinates the reading program and is excited about its upcoming implementation. She contends that while "the on-line program is not the same, it is a quality program."

The reading program resulted from a request from the Conroe school district to increase the literacy expertise of their certified teachers by offering an alternative to the Master of Education Degree in Reading currently offered on campus. Other districts concurred with the need for such a degree.

The platform for the reading program is Blackboard, a virtual classroom that many professors across campus are currently utilizing. Master's On-Line, a telecommunications company which specializes in such programs, assists with course presentation.

"The courses are very interactive in nature," explained Lowery-Moore. "There will always be an SHSU professor or adjunct faculty member who will serve as the professor of record." Proficiency in computer applications and a high-speed Internet connection are the only requirements for participation.

Students may enroll for classes during registration by specifically selecting the on-line course option. Presently, enrollment is not limited for the reading program; however, there will be one virtual instructor for every 25 on-line students. Any limits on enrollment for the military history program have yet to be determined.

Universities around the nation are implementing similar programs. The University of Texas at Austin offers nearly 100 different courses as part of its TeleCampus and has seen a 470 percent increase in enrollment in the past year. The biggest fear of Sam Houston officials is that first-time enrollment numbers will be overwhelming.

Sam Houston State University offers nearly 30 online courses. If the trend towards alternative learning continues, students may see an increase in on-line course options. The College of Criminal Justice is in the process of developing a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice, to be available this Fall.

"There is a certain amount of acceptance [of technology] that society must have," explained Lowery-Moore. The on-line route is just another option for students who are interested in obtaining a Master's degree. Olson added that the outcome "remains to be seen."

"We would not offer a program that is not of high quality," continued Lowery-Moore. Sam Houston State University is committed to offering excellence in education. Whether that excellence in achieved on-campus or in a "virtual classroom," the end result will soon be achievable through a different means.

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For more information:
Military history Webpage
Dr. Mary Robbins, online reading degree coordinator

SHSU Media Contact: Audrey Wick
Feb. 27, 2001
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