This past spring, the Muhlenberg College Board of Trustees and faculty approved a plan to expand the Wescoe School to offer graduate certificates and degrees. The first programs to be offered will be a Certificate in Data Analytics, as well as a Master’s Degree in Data Analytics. While the school is pending approval from its accrediting agency, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, it plans to offer the programs sometime during the 2019-2020 academic year.
Although the purpose of the Wescoe School is to serve adult learners, it has never before offered postgraduate programs for its students. This new addition marks a change in the educational requirements of the professional world.
“Today, Continuing Education that includes graduate level certificates and Master’s Degrees makes up the portfolio of offerings needed to serve and support this growing market of learners,” says Jane Hudak, Dean of the Wescoe School.
The first programs to be offered, a Certificate or Master’s in Data Analytics, stem from the advice of Lehigh Valley businesses.
“We had heard from some local business partners that there was an increasing need for employees with Data Analytics skills,” notes Hudak. “We worked with representatives from different industry sectors (banking, energy, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, etc.) who spent a significant amount of time providing feedback to help us design the curriculum.”
In the future, Wescoe hopes to offer a business-related Master’s Degree that “builds upon the strengths of the college,” according to Hudak. This will likely be a program in Organizational Leadership, which “builds on our work in Arts and Non-Profit Management, as well as our Healthcare and Human Resources Management programs,” Hudak continues. “The workforce is changing; many people seek a different degree than the typical MBA. We will focus on leadership in organizations, and I imagine topics such as social responsibility and ethics, [as well as] managing a diverse workforce to be broad areas of focus.”
“In the future, Wescoe hopes to offer a business-related Master’s Degree that “builds upon the strengths of the college,”
While Wescoe hopes to further expand its offering of postgraduate programs, it does not plan to offer graduate degrees or certifications in every discipline. “We are a small liberal arts college, not a university,” states Hudak. “We wish to pursue a select number of graduate degrees and certificates through the Wescoe School that serve our community—while maintaining our liberal arts mission as our core focus.”
As this branch of the college grows, it may require a large space to house the entire department. However, they plan to stay put for the time being.
“For the near future, the Wescoe administration will stay in our current building. As we grow, it will be necessary to find a larger space to keep the group together” says Hudak.
Overall, this expansion will serve Wescoe students, as well as full-time Muhlenberg undergrads looking toward the future. While some programs will appeal to working professionals, others will attract Muhlenberg graduates looking to further their education, should a program in their discipline be offered.