The Graduate School at Georgia College sees record enrollment

The Graduate School at Georgia College sees record enrollment

W hile colleges and universities across the nation struggle to meet enrollment goals, Georgia College’s Graduate School has broken records across the board. 

The Graduate School data December 2020.
The Graduate School data December 2020.

For the fall 2020 semester, 1,282 students enrolled in graduate programs at the university—the largest number in history. That number has been steadily rising since fall 2016 when 868 students were enrolled. 

Interim Associate Provost and Director of the Graduate School Dr. Holley Roberts attributes the growth to Georgia College’s reputation as an institution of higher education and the innovation to offer programs that meet the needs of professionals in our state. 

U.S. News & World Report ranked several Georgia College master’s degrees in the “Best Online Graduate Programs” for 2020. The graduate nursing programs were recognized as 28th in the country and first in Georgia. Online Master’s in Business degrees (excluding the MBA) were listed as 17th in the nation and also first in Georgia, while the online MBA was also the highest-ranked in the state. 

During this time of economic uncertainty, many people are looking to develop more in their current professions, increase their knowledge in a specific area or change careers, according to Roberts. 

“Growth is happening in many of our graduate programs with the largest being in the College of Education—specifically in our Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program,” said Roberts.

MAT student teaches in the classroom.
MAT student teaches in the classroom.

The MAT program provides initial educator preparation at the master’s degree level for people who already have a bachelor’s degree with a major in specific content fields. It’s primarily for those people looking to change careers to become a teacher. 

“Part of it is, as people are losing their jobs, they decide to go into teaching. If they already have a bachelor's degree, they can be in the classroom, start teaching and get certified with the MAT,” said Dr. Joe Peters, dean of the College of Education. 

Since 2015, graduate programs in the College of Education have “grown 412 percent,” said Peters. He attributes that primarily to the move to offer programs online. MAT programs began to move online in 2016 and have seen steady growth since then.

“With the MAT program, students can focus in middle grades, secondary or special education,” Peters said. 

“In the College of Education, we also have a teacher leadership specialist degree and a curriculum and instruction master's degree. We just started both a few years ago, and they also have record enrollment,” Peters said.

Most graduate programs at the university are online, making for easier access to students across the state. With many already in a working profession, online learning brings more flexibility and options as people look to pursue an advanced degree. That’s why the College of Education plans to continue to offer more programs online to meet needs. 

“Next summer we're going to do early childhood and middle grades master's degrees 100 percent online for the first time, as well as special education master’s and specialist degrees,” Peters said. 

The university also offers certificates online in education and other fields. It’s one more way to help professionals hone existing skills or develop new ones.

The Graduate School is looking to expand offerings across the university to address the needs of professional learners with increasing the offerings in graduate certificates. 

“Certificates are non-degree seeking,” Roberts said. “They are a series of classes that build on each other to enhance knowledge and skills in a specific area.”

“We are planning to offer several new certificates coming out of health sciences and business,” said Roberts. “Although they’re in the early stages, options could include information systems, data analytics, IT auditing, web development, nutrition, nurse simulation educator and more.” 

Meeting the current workforce needs is key to the growth and development of The Graduate School.

“Our goals looking forward are to foster student success, cultivate an engaged graduate community and focus our recruitment efforts.”
– Dr. Holley Roberts

Whether in education, business, health sciences or humanities, Georgia College will continue to provide an education for graduate learners that’s both accessible and preeminent. 

For more information on the Graduate School at Georgia College, visit https://www.gcsu.edu/graduate.