HSU offers new degrees

Henderson State University will offer new bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice and engineering physics this fall, along with a new online master’s degree in education technology leadership. New degree tracks in statistics (mathematics) and biochemistry will also be available. The new degrees were recently approved by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education’s Coordinating Board.

After recognizing that there are not many in-state options for those in southwest Arkansas to seek bachelor-level options in criminal justice, Henderson worked with criminal justice and human service professionals to develop a plan that would allow students possessing a minor or associate’s degree in criminal justice to seamlessly complete the bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

“Criminal justice has evolved from a job to a profession requiring students to demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge to real life situations in diverse settings,” said Dr. Allison Vetter, associate professor of sociology at Henderson. “Our program will provide students with theories, principles, and techniques employed in criminal justice agencies and departments. The study of law, as it relates to criminal justice agencies, human behavior, government, and communications, along with specialized course work, comprise the curriculum.”

Vetter said graduates may seek job opportunities at federal, state, county, municipal, and international levels, or they may attend graduate school where they will be positioned to become intellectual leaders in related fields and/or in teaching and research. “Henderson will serve as a viable bridge between students who receive an Associate of Arts degree from the two-year and community colleges in Southwest Arkansas and the four-year degrees, as well as provide a pathway for those wishing to pursue graduate work.”

With a four-year degree in criminal justice, graduates will not only be qualified for “entry” level openings in the criminal justice professions, they will also be competitors for upper-level job openings. The program will prepare students for employment across many fields of police work, corrections, and related occupations. The degree program will be offered and coordinated through Henderson’s Department of Sociology.

The engineering physics degree is designed for students who have an interest in and an aptitude for both engineering and physics, said Dr. Rick McDaniel, professor and chair of physics at Henderson. “The program provides students with a firm foundation in physics and mathematics, together with engineering design and problem-solving skills,” McDaniel said. “This background prepares students to tackle complex problems in multidisciplinary areas that are at the forefront of 21st Century technology, such as solid state devices, quantum optics and photonics, materials science, nanotechnology, electromechanical systems, energy systems, and any engineering field that requires a very solid background in physics.”

Statistics show that engineering graduates continue to receive the highest starting salary of any discipline. This degree will provide students with the opportunity for employment as an engineer in the high-paying, high-technology fields related to electrical, computer, and semiconductor industries. The program also prepares students for graduate study in either engineering or physics. “Because the program emphasizes science, mathematics and engineering, students are well prepared to pursue graduate work in engineering, physics, or applied sciences,” McDaniel said.

Teachers College, Henderson is now offering the Master of Science degree in Education Technology Leadership online. It is a 30-hour program designed to prepare candidates for building and district leadership roles in the rapidly growing field of educational technology and implementation.

Henderson will offer the only program in Arkansas designed specifically for school administrators who must have an awareness of how leadership and curriculum impact a school’s or district’s ability to design technology appropriate for its unique needs.

“This degree is unique because it was designed to align with existing programs of study in the Teachers College, Henderson Educational Leadership Program,” said Don Benton, assistant professor of Educational Leadership. “A candidate may complete a M.S.E. in Technology Leadership and pursue licensure in Building Level Leadership (principal) without having to complete an additional degree.”

Candidates who already have master’s degrees have the option to complete a graduate certificate in Technology Leadership by completing a 15-hour program of study.

“Teachers College, Henderson is fortunate to have Educational Leadership faculty who have exceptional expertise in the use of technology, curriculum, and leadership to improve student learning in P-12 schools,” said Dr. Judy Harrison, dean of Teachers College, Henderson. “Not only do they have the necessary knowledge, they also have the skills and dispositions needed to impact their own candidates’ learning. They model everything they teach by modeling the use of technology in their totally online leadership programs.

The Master of Science in Education and the Educational Specialist degrees in Educational Leadership, as well as the program of study in Curriculum Program Administrator, are national recognized by the Educational Leadership Constituents Council. “Our graduates tell us that they are exceptionally well-prepared for their roles in school leadership,” Harrison said.

Henderson’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science is offering a statistics option within the B.S. degree in mathematics. “In an increasingly quantitative world, technology provides the ability to gather huge amounts of data in a variety of settings,” said Dr. Carolyn Eoff, chair of the department. “Statistics is the area of mathematics devoted to determining methods of creating trustworthy data, analyzing data, and drawing practical information and conclusions from it.”

Statistical reasoning and methods are increasingly required in a wide variety of endeavors,” Eoff said. “Medical research absolutely depends on careful design of experiments and interpretation of the complex data that result. Business, industry, and government need statisticians to interpret data correctly, improve efficiency and guide policy decisions.”

The new statistics track includes statistics-related elective courses from other disciplines including business, sociology and psychology. “Our students will learn the theory and practice of statistics within the context of a rich liberal arts education provided at Henderson, thus making them particularly well-suited for meaningful and productive careers in a profession with a myriad of job opportunities,” Eoff said. “Our first declared major in the statistics track plans to become an actuary and work in the insurance field.”

Beginning with the Human Genome Project of the 1990s, there has been an explosive growth in the field of biochemistry and the biological side of chemistry. Most research funded in chemistry now has a biochemical leaning reflected in the fact that most federal research funds are dedicated to the field in some way or another, according to Dr. Vincent Dunlap, assistant professor of chemistry at Henderson.

“Since a large portion of our graduates go on to graduate school, they will likely encounter biochemistry in their research in some shape or form,” Dunlap said. “We developed our program, based on American Chemical Society standards, to answer that need. Furthermore, since medicine is headed in a direction towards more biological drug agents and disease diagnosis at the genetic level, it is appropriate that we offer the biochemistry program in order to prepare students for professional programs in the health sciences.”

Dunlap said the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) committee has announced that, beginning in 2015, the MCAT will have a heavy focus on biochemistry. “Our program is designed to meet the needs of all of these career goals and allows a few hours of electives so that students can tailor their degree plan to meet their individual needs,” he said.

For more information about the new degree programs and degree tracks, please contact the registrar’s office at (870) 230- 5135.