Wayland to offer Master's degree in history in multiple formats

Release Date: December 10, 2009

PLAINVIEW – Beginning in February 2010, Wayland Baptist University will offer the Master of Arts in History degree in two formats for ease and accessibility.

The degree will be offered in a face-to-face format on the Plainview campus, following the pattern of the current Master of Arts in Counseling program, which meets on Friday evenings and all day Saturday four times during an 11-week term. The MA in history, like the counseling degree, will follow the quarter term system of Wayland’s external and virtual campus to allow students to complete the degree faster.

In addition to the face-to-face format for local and area residents, the MA in history will be offered completely online to accommodate those interested in the degree who do not live near Plainview or those who want the convenience of an online degree. The online format makes Wayland one of the pioneers in the field, since only three schools in the country offer such a degree online and none in the general history area.

“The possibilities for flexibility in the degree are enormous,” said Dr. Estelle Owens, dean of the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences at WBU. “We are qualified, ready and eager to do this.”

Owens noted that the 37-hour degree will include a historical methods course that will only be offered online, and the program culminates in a one-hour comprehensive examination. Students may choose to complete a thesis (six credit hours) or take two additional classes and forego the thesis. The only required undergraduate coursework for this degree is six hours in history.

The flexibility of the program also extends to the degree content. The methods course and the exam are the only set coursework required. The remainder of the classes will be topics courses. And Owens adds the courses won’t be limited to the fields of American and European history but will branch out into wider arenas such as regional history, environmental history, the history of science and technology, 20th century history, warfare and culture, medieval history, and gender/ethnic minority history. In addition, Biblical history courses will be included in the degree options, such as Baptist and church history.

The topic may be different each time the course is offered, and students may repeat a course when the topic changes. For example, studies in 19th century America can be the Jacksonian period or the Civil War or reform movements. Regional history might focus on the American West one term and the 20th century Middle East the next time the course is offered.

Owens said the variety of course options also means the program has a wide spectrum of full-time faculty involved. The faculty on the Plainview campus includes Owens, Dr. Niler Pyeatt, Dr. Kevin Sweeney and Mr. Tom Ray. In addition to Owens, Dr. Eric Ash, executive director and dean of Wayland’s Anchorage campus and associate professor of history, and Dr. Donald Knox, associate professor from the Wichita Falls campus, will teach online courses, as will Dr. Jeff Anderson, Dr. David Howle, Dr. Carolyn Ratcliffe and Dr. Paul Sadler of the School of Religion and Philosophy.

The new program has been a subject of discussion at Wayland for several years, based on feedback from a variety of groups.

“We’ve had some undergraduates over the last few years who have been very interested in such a program and might have stayed here to do it; but they have had to go elsewhere since we didn’t have the degree,” noted Ray.

Owens said the motivation also stems from a need within the university.

“We’ve heard from other leaders throughout the Wayland system that they often have difficulty finding qualified faculty to teach their face-to-face history classes on campus,” she said. “We believe this is a way to grow our own faculty among people who have the interest but are far from any place that offers this degree.”

Armed with that need, the faculty formulated a degree program and received full approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Wayland’s accrediting agency, on Nov. 19. They are excited about the possibilities for students who are on their way to a doctoral degree, career military personnel who may be looking for a second career after retirement or those who simply want career advancement options.

The program is set up to be accomplished within six terms (approximately 18 months) if a full graduate load of six hours is taken each term. Students opting for the program on the Plainview campus may require longer to finish due to the rotation of face-to-face courses.

Registration for the spring term begins February 1, and applications are being accepted now for the new program. Graduate admission is based on the grade point average for the final 60 hours of the undergraduate degree, with requirements for entry based on a scale.

For more information on graduate requirements, contact the graduate studies office at (806) 291-3414 or visit the university Web site at www.wbu.edu.

The spring term begins February 22.