Merrimack College’s master of education in higher education, one of the earliest master’s degree programs offered by the College, marked the 10th anniversary of its first graduating class. Designed for professionals who are passionate about the transformative power of education, the higher education program, which began with an inaugural class of 12 students, enrolls an average of 38 students a year. Over the past decade, 374 graduates have earned their master’s degree through the program.
“We hear time and time again from our students just how important the brief but very impactful time they spent at Merrimack was,” shares Vice Provost of Graduate Education Susan Marine, the program’s founding director. “We are proud that many of our students graduate and go on to become leaders on college and university campuses.”
And the program’s growth does not show signs of stopping anytime soon. In addition to continuing to grow its highly sought-after fellowship program and expanding instruction on new trends in higher education, faculty are in conversation with campus partners about the potential to offer an online master of education in higher education for professionals seeking to earn their degree while fully remote.
“We have a very special program and seek to provide the opportunity to join this wonderful community with those who may not be able to study on ground with us,” said Elaine Ward, longtime faculty member, current program director and chair of the higher education department. “We look forward to the continued growth of our program and success of our alumni.”
To celebrate the higher education program’s milestone anniversary, Merrimack hosted a special celebration and symposium on April 2. The success of the day can be attributed directly to alumni of the program who formed the planning committee.
“It is a testament to the impact of the program that not only did 70 alumni travel from as far away as Washington, Virginia and Florida for the event, but alumni also contributed to shaping and planning such a successful celebration. They all deserve great credit and a special thank you to our planning committee chair Daruenie Andujar M’18, and team Amanda Alcox M’21, Tony Galvan M’19, Julia Nadeau M’19 and Sarah Palladino M’15,” said Ward.
The celebration, attended by alumni, current students, faculty, staff and fellowship supervisors, included a keynote address by Noemi Custodia-Lora, vice president of the Lawrence Campus and community relations at Northern Essex Community College. Other speakers featured during the event included Ward, Marine, Deborah Margolis, interim dean of the Winston School of Education and Social Policy, and John “Sean” Condon, vice president of academic affairs and provost.
The event featured three concurrent sessions led by program alumni, a networking reception and a special dinner. Father Raymond Dlugos, O.S.A. gave the dinner blessing followed by an address from Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Doggett. Another highlight of the evening was a moment of gratitude dedicated to Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs Jessica McCarthy for her years of service to the program. The celebration was a resounding success with many requests to continue the event and symposium as an annual tradition.
Since the launch of the master’s in higher education program, the College has continued to make a strategic investment in its graduate education division, introducing more than 25 new master’s degrees and increasing enrollment across all graduate degree and certificate programs to 1,331 students. The expansion has been targeted at developing programs that prepare students to meet today’s evolving market demands.
Students have the option to access their graduate program of choice through a variety of modalities, including on-campus, online and hybrid options. With demand for online programs steadily increasing, the College has expanded its catalog to 15 online graduate degree programs and an additional 16 graduate certificate and licensure online programs. Each of these programs can be done remotely and are designed to meet the needs of working professionals.
Additionally, the College has committed to keeping graduate education costs affordable. With competitive tuition, generous scholarships and widely available fellowships, Merrimack offers graduate degrees at a cost that’s generally comparable to that of public universities.
“With the expansion of our graduate offerings, Merrimack is on a great trajectory,” Merrimack College President Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D. said. “From our world-class online programs to our top-tier graduate-level faculty, I’m confident about where we’re headed. No matter where you look, our future is bright.”