Retrospective: how have grad programs changed over the years?

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On Dec. 15, 1965 The Reflector announced to the Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) student population that a new graduate division would soon be underway. This new program was mainly added to the university for professors because in 1965, a new regulation in Indiana required that professors must begin their study for a master’s degree within five years of beginning their teaching career.

Due to this regulation, according to Admissions Counselor for the School of Nursing Brandon Doty, UIndy is one of few schools that takes certain steps to ensure that professors have the opportunity to earn their master’s degree.

“Something that is unique to UIndy, there are other universities that do that too, where employees can take advantage of graduate work…” Doty said. “[But] HR says after two years [of working for UIndy], you can then work on a master’s [degree] and it’s free.”

In July of 2016, Program Advisor for the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences Cecilia van Wijk said she was hired because UIndy had opened its new Master of Social Work program. Since then, she has been able to watch the program grow. 

“…Starting with the Master of Social Work program with a new program that was really exciting to see that develop,” van Wijk said. “[UIndy] had already created [the program] prior to me starting and then just to see it grow, and learn about the different accreditation processes for our programs—that our programs are license-eligible.”

Although UIndy was able to open up new graduate programs, some previously offered programs are no longer available to take.

“[The School of Nursing] used to have a master’s degree in midwifery,” Doty said. “We no longer have that. We didn’t have students registered in the program because there just [weren’t] enough students [registering for it].”

According to van Wijk, some UIndy graduate programs, such as the Gerontology Department, already offered some online classes prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Doty said it was COVID-19 that made certain graduate programs switch to online and hybrid classes. Even after the lockdown, [online programs] helped the School of Nursing realize that they could offer their Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing online as well as in-person.

“…That whole year where we had to be [at] home and online learning, it basically forced everybody to reexamine how we deliver classes,” Doty said. “…We can do quality teaching online if there are other things that are provided for [students].”

Due to the nature of certain graduate programs, they cannot be offered fully online, but van Wijk said that having certain online elements for the programs has helped them become more flexible.

“…Having interview days virtual has been really awesome because we can have interviews with students who otherwise maybe wouldn’t be able to get to campus when we used to have them only in-person,” van Wijk said.

In regard to the future of graduate programs, both Doty and van Wijk hope that the graduate programs continue to grow, improve and strengthen as time goes on. Van Wijk said she also hopes that the graduate programs continue to focus on what they do best.

“Organizations are always assessing to make sure, Are we meeting the needs of our students?’” van Wijk said. “‘Are we meeting the needs of students who are interested in coming to UIndy and how can we continue to improve upon that?’”

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