Truman offers Masters in leadership
By Lisa Kucharski
Published: Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 21:12
Truman is offering a new graduate program beginning in spring of 2011 in which students will be able to cater a leadership education toward their ideal career path.
The Master of Arts in Leadership program is a 39-credit degree with 15 credits in common core requirements, 15 credits in a single specialization area and nine credits in an internship, according to the Academic Graduate Degree Program Proposal to Faculty Senate. For the specialization area, students can chose a pre-existing program or create their own with an adviser
Candy Young, professor of political science, said the goal behind this program is to have 15 credits that every student would have in common but also to provide flexibility.
“Trying to have a cohesive element as well as make the course very flexible to allow students to reach personal goals was our objective,” Young said.
Young said the program offers the opportunity for students to take the ideas, theories, models and approaches to leadership they learn and apply them to real-world situations. She said the capstone course will allow students to tie together core courses, area of specialization and professional internship. Students will reflect on how these courses integrate, how they can advance their goals and where they see themselves in the future.
Young said she was the lead faculty member in the proposal stage of the degree. She said a task force had started working 15 years ago on the development of a flexible Masters degree that would allow professionals to advance their education, but the idea didn’t have much focus. Young said no one really took charge and the idea withered away.
Eventually, more emphasis was placed on leadership and the Truman leadership scholars on campus. Young said former President Krueger decided that during his tenure a Masters in Leadership was the conceptual idea to pursue. After a summer of researching other leadership degrees offered across the country, Young and a task force began meeting last year to decide what would work for Truman.
Young said adding a new program required careful consideration of funding. She said attention was given to how much revenue the program would generate. Young said she hopes to get at least 20 full-time students in order to cover the cost of providing the program and the professors, but that it depends on the type of students the program attracts.
“One of the realities is that a number of these students won’t be full-time, because this is also serving professionals in the region,” Young said.
The diversity of the students’ experience levels in the classroom, however, is an aspect Young said she is looking forward to. She said there will be more academic and practical orientation blended into these courses than others.
“It’ll be nice to have this mix of students that are coming right on into the graduate program alongside professionals who will be bringing their experience into the classroom,” Young said.
Kevin Minch, director of the Truman Institute and professor of communication, said he and Young will teach two of the core courses this spring. Having current faculty teach the courses will reduce costs to the University.
Minch said an advantage of the program is that it can be adjusted to fit student’s personal needs. He said the program’s greatest potential is to provide an opportunity for students who have completed their undergraduate degree but are unsure of what graduate program to pursue, so that they can learn leadership skills before jumping into a career.
Minch said the long-term possibility of creating a parallel certificate program has been discussed because the Truman Institute has an interest in expanding graduate opportunities.
He said this program would be shorter than the full master’s degree and would offer some of the same courses, but would be for someone who doesn’t want a full-fledged master’s degree. Minch said those plans are on hold to see the success of the Masters of Arts in Leadership program.
“I’m really optimistic about it,” Minch said. “I think it’s a program that can grow because there are so many ways in which leadership skills can be deployed in the work place.”