MSUM graduate programs offer flexibility for busy students

When working full-time, earning a master’s degree may seem overwhelming. Faculty in Minnesota State University Moorhead’s graduate studies programs are making a concerted effort to add convenience and flexibility for working professionals.

“While some of our graduate programs are traditional ‘bricks and mortar,’ the majority of our graduate programs are available online or in hybrid formats,” said Boyd Bradbury, Dean of Graduate Studies and Dean of the College of Education and Human Services. “It’s no surprise that our largest graduate programs, educational leadership and curriculum and instruction, are online. While some institutions of higher education do not want to change to accommodate student needs, MSUM has been quick to respond.”

Classes are offered in late afternoons or evenings to accommodate working students. Hybrid programs are an option for students wanting a combination of classes on campus and online.

“MSUM recognizes that many graduate students are busy individuals who must balance professional and personal responsibilities. In an age of ubiquitous technology, working professionals should be able to get the necessary education to advance their professional careers without leaving the comfort and convenience of their homes,” Bradbury said.

Josh St. Louis, a fifth grade teacher at Robert Asp Elementary, recently completed the Minnesota principal licensure program at MSUM and is working toward his master’s degree in educational leadership.

“The online classes were great because I could do the work when it fit into my schedule, which allowed me to continue my career while tending to the needs of my young family. Events such as web chats were scheduled in the evening, so I still had time to feed my kids dinner and put them to bed,” Louis said.

In the past year, MSUM has responded to employer needs and student interest by adding new master’s programs in business administration (executive MBA with healthcare emphasis), healthcare administration, nursing administration, and accounting and finance.

Since last year, new student enrollment has more than doubled.

“The considerable increase in enrollment is not by accident. Our graduate faculty members have made a genuine effort to accommodate student needs. With attention to increased high-quality programming and flexible delivery modes, we are able to meet students where they are in their lives. Our instructors care about their students, and they provide students personalized attention,” Bradbury said.

For some, online classes may seem disconnected from professors and classmates, but students enrolled for fully online programs, like curriculum and instruction or healthcare administration, receive one-on-one attention from professors and get to know their peers through online chat programs like Skype, Google Hangout and WebEX.

“We believe student interaction and developing relationships is vital to learning. Our use of technologies to emphasize personalized attention and opportunities to learn from each other are cornerstones of the MSUM program,” said Julie Swaggert, coordinator of the Educational Leadership program. “We meet as a class online and embed technology into our courses to help our students learn and grow as cutting-edge educational leaders.”

“I’m impressed with the program,” said Carla Smith, a current educational leadership student. “Dr. Swaggert was helpful and answered every question I had. The professors expect you to read, write, think and reflect. You’re treated like a professional.”

In addition to the convenience of the classes, receiving a master’s degree, post-master’s degree or licensure provides career advancement opportunities. Students receive in-depth knowledge in their discipline to enhance expertise.

To view the full list of graduate program offerings, visit