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Next Steps in Online Graduate Education

Apr 22, 2015 - Dr. Eric Riggs

The College of Geosciences Explores Online Graduate Education with Pearson Embanet

For the last two years, the College has been exploring developing professional masters degree programs. These will be built to compliment our existing research-based masters programs around the College, and should include online and hybrid versions to maximize our reach and impact. Building high-quality, full-scale online programs is expensive and difficult, and we do not have the internal resources or expertise to do this on our own in the College. We held an open competition to seek an external partner in these efforts, and along the way we have poured over market analyses, financial projections, curricular models and have benefited from much faculty feedback. The areas that look most promising to develop first are Petroleum Geoscience, GIST, and the new MOST program in Oceanography may also be a candidate.  A committee formed of the four department heads and two faculty from these key areas along with myself were finally able to pick a finalist earlier this semester. We have chosen to work with Pearson Embanet.  Embanet is far and away the national leader in partnerships of this type, and has substantial experience in developing programs in technical fields at public universities. 

Now the real work begins.  What Embanet has been granted is the go-ahead to begin a substantial due-diligence process that involves a comprehensive examination of TAMU’s and the College’s capacity to work with distance graduate students.  This process begins in earnest May 6-7, 2015 and involves University-level offices from the Provost through Admissions, the Registrar, OGAPS, Instructional Technology and much more. Pearson Embanet will come back to us with an Institutional Readiness Assessment report after their visit, which is already eagerly awaited by many in the University. Online and hybrid models of graduate education are clearly part of the future of higher education at top-tier universities, and part of the future in graduate education in the geosciences.  As we build these first-in-class programs, TAMU Geosciences will be a leader in this space, adding to our already substantial international reputation. 

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