The William Carey University School of Education has reached its highest enrollment on record with 1,270 students, a 13.5 percent increase over last fall’s numbers.
Dr. Ben Burnett, dean of the School of Education, said the enrollment growth comes on the heels of a banner year for the school. Enrollment grew in each trimester of the 2014-2015 academic year, with an eight percent jump in the spring trimester alone.
Burnett said the growth is due to a number of new academic offerings, including several programs that are now being offered in online formats. Online options include a bachelor’s degree in physical education, master’s degrees in education with multiple specialty areas and a specialist’s degree in instructional leadership. Additionally, numerous undergraduate and graduate programs are offered in hybrid formats.
“The School of Education has upgraded existing programs or added new programs in online and hybrid formats to make receiving an excellent education more convenient for the busy student,” he said.
The growth in enrollment can also be attributed to several new grant-funded programs, said Burnett. The Science and Mathematics Alternate Route Teacher (SMART) program, funded through a $296,200 grant from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation, backed 20 scholarships for non-education graduates wanting to enter the teaching field in the areas of mathematics and science. The first group of teacher candidates started their studies over the summer. The grant will fund a total of 60 scholarships over a three-year period.
In June, a group of 18 area teachers participated in Carey’s first Teacher Leader Institute, which was funded with a $90,000 grant awarded under the authority of Title II of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The institute provided techniques on quality improvement and also instructed the teachers, who enrolled as students in Carey’s educational leadership program, on professional development methods in their respective school districts.
Dr. Tommy King, Carey president, commended the work of the School of Education and the enthusiasm of the faculty and staff.
“This healthy increase mirrors the overall growth of the university and bodes well for the future of Carey,” he said.
Burnett said he is looking forward to another successful, albeit busy, year for the school.
“We are looking forward to the implementation of a new online doctorate in educational leadership K-12,” said Burnett. “We already have 10 to 15 students enrolled in this new doctoral program, which will begin in November, and we are anticipating a total of 30 to 40 students.”
Burnett and his staff are also looking to expand undergraduate enrollment and to continue adding innovative programs to meet needs within the area and state. One such program is an assistant teacher certification program in the works at the Tradition campus in Biloxi. The program, which has a planned summer 2016 launch, would allow an assistant teacher to get the education necessary to be a certified classroom teacher.
“It is a great time to be a student in the School of Education during this period of growth,” said Burnett. “We are pleased to offer programs that are not only innovative, but also great in terms of quality.”