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Master minds: Graduate program boosts Summer Commencement

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Eighty-six of the more than 300 graduates who will receive diplomas during the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Summer Commencement ceremony on Friday have earned a master’s degree.

That almost doubles the 42 master’s degrees conferred last summer. The increase is thanks, in large part, to the University’s educational leadership master’s program.

Thirty-nine students who enrolled in the six-semester program in Fall 2015 will get their degrees. The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. in the Cajundome Convention Center adjacent to the Cajundome.

The educational leadership master’s degree is geared toward elementary and secondary teachers interested in leadership roles, such as principal, assistant principal, or other positions in school systems.

The program provides students with in-depth knowledge about a range of topics, from legal and ethical issues to community engagement to using data to effect change.

Dr. Nathan Roberts, dean of the College of Education, said the master’s in educational leadership program is graduating more students for a couple of reasons.

One is outreach efforts. Representatives of the College of Education contact school districts, which recommend teachers who would make good candidates for the program. University faculty members travel to school districts across the state to teach some of the program’s courses.

Another is the addition of an online component to the program, which was approved by the Louisiana Board of Regents in Fall 2015. It enables students to receive a mix of online instruction and face-to face interaction with faculty, during three-hour courses taught on campus once a week. 

“The efforts by faculty are starting to pay off,” Roberts explained. “Now, instead of graduating 10 or 11 students, we’re starting to see several times that amount.”

Dr. Mary Farmer-Kaiser, dean of the University’s Graduate School, said this summer’s large number of educational leadership master’s graduates underscores a growing trend in many industries and careers.

“A master’s degree is becoming essential, in many cases, not only for advancement, but to land some entry-level positions. That’s a key reason we’re seeing continual overall increases in both enrollment and graduation numbers for master’s degrees,” she explained.