The new graduate degrees include computer science in the School of Science and Engineering; public affairs in the School of Liberal Arts; and community health education, exercise and sport science, and health and wellness management in the Health Sciences Department.
The decision to roll out the degrees is in keeping with President Christopher E. Hopey’s, Agenda for Distinction released in 2013, which included a call to cultivate the graduate programs.
The agenda’s strategic plan includes academic goals designed to enhance the quality and breadth of Merrimack’s course offerings for students who want master’s degrees.
Master’s degree programs offer students, alumni and others opportunities to expand their careers in fields that require advanced education for advancement in their fields.
The courses are unique in that students can earn their graduate diplomas in a year instead of the more traditional two years.
“One of the things it does is create an immediate pathway for our seniors by allowing them to continue their education in four-plus-one model,” said Maureen Sakakeeny, director of science and engineering programs. “It’s a nice marriage to our undergraduate program.”
Merrimack already offers several graduate degree programs, including civil and mechanical engineering degrees in the school of Science and Engineering; management and accounting degrees in the Girard School of Business; and education degrees in the school of Education and Social Policy, as well as about eight licensure degrees.
Merrimack has about 300 graduate students currently.
The growth of graduate program offerings has exploded over the last five years. Just a few years ago, Merrimack offered just one master’s degree program with 50 students enrolled.
“I feel it’s an exciting time for the department,” said Kyle McInnis, chairman and professor of health sciences. “It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time.”
Merrimack is growing at the undergraduate level, so it’s natural to enhance the number of master’s degree offerings, he said.
The public affairs master’s degree is the first graduate program for the School of Liberal Arts, said dean and professor Kathleen Tiemann. The degree will open the field for those in the profession.
“I think it’s a really good opportunity and there is a need for people trained in public affairs,” she said.
The college is investing in new faculty to support the new programs; health sciences alone is searching for three or four new faculty members.
The department is housed in the Merrimack Athletic Center where there are state-of-the-art labs for experiential learning. The labs offer room for hands-on research and clinical training.
Health Sciences has purchased about $250,000 in new equipment in the last 18 months.
“All of the space and new technology will be leveraged for the new graduate program,” McInnis said.
Since three of the new graduate courses are in health sciences, the department is linking the School of Science and Engineering website to the graduate school class lists.
“The links are up and now the information is getting in place,” Sakakeeny said.
Merrimack is hosting an open house for all its graduate programs in Sakowich Campus Center’s Murray Lounge March 4 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
For more information visit www.merrimack.edu/graduate or call the Office of Graduate Admissions at 978-837-3563.