Updates to newer degree programs increase opportunities for professional development

February 28, 2017

Daniel McArdle

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     Three newly added programs at UCCS are offering increased opportunity for focused professional development – which may prove to be an important aspect of the university as the enrollment numbers grow.

     The Bachelor of Innovation in Inclusive Elementary Education started in summer 2016 and Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science in the fall, and the College of Business has offered the Master’s in Accounting since the fall 2015 Semester.

     Since then, these programs have been updated for students interested in studying them.

Bachelor of Innovation in Inclusive Elementary Education

     Along with the Bachelor of Arts in Inclusive Childhood Education, the Bachelor of Innovation is one of two undergraduate programs offered by the Department of Education. Right now, 148 students are enrolled in the program, exceeding initial enrollment projections, according to Valerie Conley, dean of the College of Education.

     In the fall, 59 new students enrolled in the program.

     “A lot of students were transfers from Pikes Peak Community College,” said Conley. “We have had very productive ongoing conversations with the people at (PPCC) to make sure that we’ve got the curriculum aligned so that the transfer can happen.”

     Students who complete the four-year program will be recommended for licensure as K-12 educators in the state of Colorado and will receive endorsement for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education as Special Education Generalists.

     According to Conley, it is the only program in Colorado that combines licensure for K-12 education with the two additional endorsements.

     “You can imagine that with the teacher shortage that we’ve got across the country and Colorado, and especially rural Colorado, these individuals are going to be in very high demand,” said Conley.

     The program consists of existing and new courses taught by instructors in the College of Education.

     The College of Education has made one tenure track faculty hire and received approval for another to support the new course offerings, said Conley.

     “We’re in transition. So if you think of this as going from a college that primarily offered graduate programs to one that now has undergrad students too, it’s exciting.”

Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science

     The Bachelor of Science Exercise Science is a joint degree program between the departments of Biology and Health Sciences. It has been offered since fall 2016.

     The program includes courses offered by the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

     In the fall, 121 students were enrolled in the degree program. This semester, 117 students are enrolled.

     Students have been excited about the major as it offers a good combination of exercise and medicine, according to senior exercise science major Celina Fine. She said that the major is efficient as students don’t have to double major to learn what they need to.

     “The major is perfect for someone who’s interested in exercise and medicine and wants an occupation in medicine,” said Fine.

     Fine, who hopes to attend graduate school to become as Physician’s assistant, discussed the value of the new joint degree for students with similar career aspirations.

     “I think taking physics I and II when it’s not required for PA schools is going to put me ahead of other students, so I’m grateful for this major switch because of that.”

     Fine cited a portfolio course where students act as personal trainers for a faculty member over 18 weeks as her favorite experience in the program.

     “That was definitely my favorite class. It connects the community of UCCS, it helps you to grow confidence and it’s a cool way of teaching material, very hands on.”

Master of Science in Accounting

     The College of Business has offered a Master’s of Science in accounting since the fall 2015 semester. This semester, 24 students are enrolled in the program.

     The program consists of 30 total hours with 18 hours of graduate accounting courses and 12 elective hours from the College of Business.

     A change in a Colorado law increased the required credit hours for a certified public accountant, which contributed to the addition of the new program, according to Brian McAllister, director of the Master’s of Science in accounting.

     Students take courses alongside students in the Master’s of Business Administration program, and the department is working to prepare undergraduate and graduate students alike for their future careers.

     “Right now, we’re trying to make it so that undergraduate students can get that core, fundamental knowledge coursework to be able to get into the graduate program and that in some ways opens them up to some different kinds of classes,” said McAllister.

     McAllister discussed the difficulties of designing a preprofessional graduate program where many students already hold jobs in their field.

     “One of the struggles that students have is that some of them work for CPA firms, and they’re really busy in the spring, so one of the things is that we’ve tried to make some of the courses available during the summer,” said McAllister.

     Sarah Simko, an MSA student, said that the program has helped prepare her for her career.

     “For the most part, it’s all new to me, which is good, and I’m being challenged to think about what I have learned in different ways,” said Simko.

     Simko, who plans to take her CPA exams after completing the program, discussed the benefit of the degree’s professional focus.

     “The professors want us to think about what could be better for the profession, let’s say, 20 years from now, so I feel like that’s a good perspective to have,” said Simko.