Master's degrees coming to Fort Sill

Release Date: January 8, 2010     

ALTUS, OKLA. – Wayland Baptist University’s campus in Altus, Okla., will begin offering several master’s degree programs on Fort Sill beginning with the spring term on Feb. 22 and add another program in the summer term beginning May 25.

Specifically, the campus will be offering the Master of Arts in History, the Master of Education and the Master of Public Administration degrees in the spring and the Master of Arts in Counseling in the summer – all in an accessible format for not only military personnel and their families but also the surrounding civilian populations as well.

According to Dr. Jay Givens, executive director of the Altus Campus, Wayland was asked to bring its programs to the post to fill needs there. Wayland will be the only university to offer some of these programs in the southwest Oklahoma region, especially in the format provided. It is the formats that make them accessible to those beyond the Lawton metro area in many cases.

The MPA degree is currently offered completely online but Wayland will be offering at least one course per term in a face-to-face format at Fort Sill. That degree is available with three specializations: government administration, justice administration and homeland security.

The MA in Counseling will follow the same format as on Wayland’s headquarters campus in Plainview, Texas, where it originated. The hybrid format offers one half of the coursework online and the other half face-to-face on Fort Sill. But those courses will only meet one weekend a month, with classes on Friday nights and all day on Saturdays. As the Plainview campus has found, this makes the program more accessible to those who may live an hour or two away, since that obligation is not weekly.

Beginning with the spring, Wayland will make its master’s degrees in history and education available through its Virtual Campus in a totally online format. The MEd will be offered with the specializations of instructional leadership and instructional technology initially and some face-to-face offerings may be added in later terms on post. The MEd program requires an 18-hour professional studies core and 18 hours in the specialization area, including a capstone course and research project.

The MA in history is a total online history degree with much flexibility, as it requires only four hours of core coursework and allows students to choose from varied selections of topics courses to fulfill the 37-hour degree requirements. In addition, students can choose to complete a master’s thesis or take the remaining hours in coursework. Topics courses cover everything from traditional history categories such as American and British history to more contemporary categories such as warfare and culture, technology and science, gender and ethnic minority issues and Biblical history options.

Givens said the new partnership with Fort Sill is exciting as Wayland continues a long tradition of helping America’s military personnel meet their educational needs.

“We’re excited to go and are looking forward to the opportunity to serve soldiers and their families as well as members of the Fort Sill and Lawton community,” said Givens, who also recently expanded his campus’ services in part to Vance Air Force Base in Enid. Givens noted that the post is accessible to non-military Wayland students.

Dr. Estelle Owens, dean of the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Wayland, which houses the MAC, MA in history and MPA programs, echoed her excitement at the branching out of those programs.

“We are seeing a great many of our servicemen and women significantly stressed by (the war in) Iraq and Afghanistan, and it would benefit them to have the support of a professional counselor. But nationwide, we have too few of them to go around,” Owens said. “I believe the military, wisely, is deciding to grow their own from within the posts. It’s fantastic to be able to get onto the post, and because meeting needs is one of our best things, we are glad to do this and meet needs.”

Owens did note that Oklahoma state board regulations require 60 hours of coursework before a student can sit for the Licensed Professional Counselor exam, though the Wayland program only requires 49 hours. Students are able to maintain enrollment at WBU and complete the additional hours from MAC electives to fulfill the state requirements.

All programs at Fort Sill will follow the same schedule as Wayland’s 12 external campuses, which operate on four 11-week terms each year. This format typically allows students to complete their degrees in a timely manner. Registration for the spring term begins Feb. 1, but applications and advisement are always available.

The Altus campus also offers the Bachelor of Applied Science degree with evening and online options in a variety of major fields, the Bachelor of Christian Ministry as well as the Master of Arts in Management, the Master of Business Administration and the Master of Christian Ministry. Their offices are located on Altus Air Force Base.

For more information on the Fort Sill or Altus programs, contact WBU Altus at (580) 481-5243.