The Harvard Graduate School of Education plans to launch a fully online master’s program in educational leadership as part of its efforts to increase access for mid-career professionals, HGSE Dean Bridget Terry Long said Wednesday in an interview.
The new program is an outgrowth of a part-time online cohort that the school accepted as part of a single summer admissions cycle in 2020.
“When we went remote, we realized how many talented and dedicated people are out there who want a masters in education, who can’t move to Cambridge, and so we launched an online masters,” Long said. .
“[The program is] really focused on this group of people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to come to Cambridge, so it’s really about access and new populations of students who want to benefit from Harvard,” she added.
Long said the program’s first cohort will arrive in the summer of 2022, and the school will likely give students the option to “come to campus for short periods of time” during the two-year duration.
Students currently enrolled in the distance and part-time program have expressed frustration with distance learning course offerings and their lack of access to campus. In the interview, Long acknowledged those frustrations and said HGSE remains committed to welcoming distant students.
“When we pledged to say you could get the degree online, we wanted to assure students who don’t have the option of moving to Cambridge that we could help them get their degree and they wouldn’t have to come,” Long said. .
Long championed the school’s distance learning offerings.
“We decided to have half of our classes online because we were so committed to online students, and in some ways it was safe for us, given that the Delta variant and Covid were hurting so much. “, she said.
“But that’s the difficulty of being in a complex university with every tub on its own bottom – you try to maximize the opportunities, but you can’t quite control,” Long added.
In addition to increasing access through online programming, Long said the school is working to create a more engaging student experience in its recently revamped master’s program.
The restructured program will graduate in the spring of 2022. It includes new Foundations courses run before the fall term — which will become mandatory for future cohorts after this year — which Long says are an opportunity to “build a relationship with faculty, with teaching fellows’ before starting at HGSE.
“We hear a lot about the benefits of this – about how it reduces anxiety levels, how it helps people feel part of the community and feel included, again, before they’ve even started “, she said.
Despite continued uncertainty over the Omicron variant, Long said the school is working to provide current and recent graduate students the opportunity to tour campus during “back to basics” events in January and May 2022. .
“[These] would be concentrated on weekends to invite both those who graduated in spring 2021, as well as those pursuing the program online, [to] just have a chance to come to campus, have faculty conferences, have social networking events,” she explained.
These events would complement the joint May debut for the classes of 2020 and 2021, which the University announced in November.
“The cohort that started in fall 2020, as well as those continuing this year, never had a chance to come to campus,” she said. “We know there was a huge desire at one point to come, not just to come to campus, but also to meet their faculty, to meet in person.”
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