Southern prepares to offer master of history

One final obstacle remains before Missouri Southern’s online master’s degree program in history is finalized.

The program must now be approved by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

“Though it’s not likely they’ll turn it down, it’s not a foregone conclusion either,” said Dr. Larry Cebula, associate professor of history. “We can’t quite pop the champagne corks yet.”

The Higher Learning Commission, an accrediting agency that has accredited Southern since 1949, will visit the campus March 31-April 2 of this year.

“The HLC team will consider it [the master’s program] as part of their overall campus reaccreditation visit,” said Dr. Betsy Griffin, assistant vice president for academic affairs. “Then it will be probably two months after that before we get the final approval.”

The aim of the program is to offer a more accessible master’s degree to current history teachers.

“There are only a handful of graduate history programs online,” Cebula said. “I think this is going to be huge because we’re offering something almost nobody is.”

In order for the program to be offered, it must be in conjunction with another school that already has such a program. If approved, Southern will partner with the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

According to Cebula, Southern already has a “pilot” program running right now with UMSL. Members of Southern’s faculty are serving as adjunct professors, while credit is given by UMSL.

Applicants to the program will have their fees paid for by a Teaching American History grant.

It is a grant of $1 million provided by the Federal Department of Education. The program will sponsor 24 teachers, particularly those from low-income school districts.

“I think there’s thousands of teachers who need to get a master’s but don’t want a master’s in education,” Cebula said. “They want one in history because that’s what they teach and that’s what they care about.”

Currently, about 20 teachers are taking online classes due to aid from the grant.

“There are people waiting in the pipeline to sign up for this program,” Griffin said.