HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from William Carey University.
William Carey University's School of Education has reached its highest enrollment on record with 1,319 students, exceeding last fall's record of 1,270 students.
Dr. Ben Burnett, dean of the School of Education, attributes the growth to the school working to meet the needs of educators throughout the state and the addition of online classes which makes it easier for busy students to pursue their degrees. The School of Education has also seen the number of students pursuing doctoral degrees increase from 19 last fall to 90 this year.
"I am very proud that we are able to have an increased enrollment enabling us to train more teachers for the schools of Mississippi," said Burnett. "Since 100 percent of the education faculty at WCU has experience in K-12 education, they are able to have a bigger impact on the teachers and leaders in today's schools."
In May, the School of Education was selected as the new headquarters for the Program of Research and Evaluation for Public Schools, which will give the faculty the opportunity to work with school districts across the state toward a common goal of improving education in Mississippi.
The school added Master in Education and Education Specialist degrees for teachers working with children who have emotional and behavioral disorders. "These degrees will fulfill a tremendous need in this critical shortage areas of teaching," said Dr. Brenda Thomas, associate professor of education. The school also added early childhood education as a concentration area for students pursuing their undergraduate degree. There is a growing need in the state for preschool education and early intervention in the areas of reading, math, health and nutrition.
The enrollment growth can also be attributed to the Science and Mathematics Alternate Route Teacher (SMART) program, which began in 2015. The program is funded by a grant from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation and provides scholarships for non-education graduates wanting to enter the teaching field in the areas of mathematics and science. The program was initially funded for three years and has been extended for another year. The grant will fund approximately 20 scholarships each year; 33 students have received scholarships in the first two years of the grant.
Providing online classes has also boosted the school's enrollment. Online options include a bachelor's degree in physical education, master's degrees in education with multiple specialty areas, a specialist's degree in instructional leadership, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership. Burnett said adding the new Doctor of Education in K-12 educational leadership program online has led to an increase in the number of students pursuing their doctoral degree. Additionally, numerous undergraduate and graduate programs are offered in hybrid formats, meaning some classes meet in person and some are online.
"Having our online programs ranked in the top 25 in the country by "U.S. News and World Report" has helped boost enrollment in our online offerings," Burnett said. "We are also happy to be able to take our programs online and face-to-face to school districts all across the state."
Best College Values ranked Carey #5 on the list of "Most Affordable Online Master's Degrees in Elementary Education in 2016."
President Tommy King said Carey has long been known as a school that produces teachers. "Although we have expanded programs in recent years, teacher education still remains our largest school, and it is evident by these enrollment numbers that it will continue to produce quality teachers."
For information about the School of Education and enrollment, visit here or call 601-318-6600.