The College of Graduate Studies wrapped up a fall semester that posted an almost 28% increase in enrollment. As the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue, MTSU recent graduates and faculty say now is an opportune time to pursue further education at graduate school.
Sarah Hendrix, strategic communications manager for the College of Graduate Studies, shared a positive outlook for spring 2021.
“We are up significantly in enrollment versus this time last year,” she said. “We can see that master’s programs are up significantly … those programs are thriving.”
Recent graduates shared their stories for choosing now to continue their education at MTSU’s graduate school.
Matt Day, who started his master’s degree in accounting this fall, graduated with his bachelor’s degree in August 2020.
“The pandemic is probably the greatest reason for me deciding to begin my advanced degree immediately,” Day said. “I am glad I decided to get my degree and hope to gain a lot of ground during this pandemic as far as education and experience are concerned.
“A lot of people have put advanced degrees on hold for a variety of reasons, but if you have the means necessary, now is a great time to increase your prestige and desirability for a more competitive job market.”
Since Day balances school with a full-time job, he needed a graduate program that fit with his schedule.
“I chose MTSU for grad school because of their flexibility to allow for me to complete my degree around working full time,” he said. “I firmly believe MTSU is the best value education for any Tennessee residents. Also, the faculty I’ve interacted with have a genuine passion for knowledge, and the success of their students is paramount.
“The College of Graduate Studies took the time to discuss career goals, and ultimately my desire to earn the CPA designation led me toward accountancy as opposed to business administration.”
Julie Hunter, who starts her master’s degree this spring in professional studies with a focus in human resources leadership, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in August 2020.
“I wanted to continue without a break because I am in the habit of scheduling school into my life,” she said.
Though she’d planned to continue her education as a sophomore, she thinks COVID’s impacts make now a logical time to pursue graduate education.
“COVID quarantines have made online learning even more accessible. Some people have more time to focus on school due to job layoffs,” Hunter said.
Hunter explained that choosing MTSU for graduate school was an “easy choice. I received my undergraduate degree from MTSU. I am familiar with the school and programs, and the area I am studying is online.”
The College of Graduate Studies gave Hunter guidance on a degree concentration path.
“Pam Morris has helped me decide which classes to take,” Hunter said. “She helped me change my concentration from Strategic Leadership to Human Resources Leadership to align with my current career.”
Words from faculty
The College of Graduate Studies recently shared a video of faculty congratulating MTSU’s graduates and sharing about graduate school.
“When you and I graduated … if you had your bachelor’s degree, you were head and shoulders above your peers,” said Thom Coates, director of IGA Office of Professional Sales. “Today these kids need their master’s degree. That (makes) them competitive.”
“Your child is graduating when the job market is tough, and we need to make sure that their resume identifies them as the best possible candidate,” said Mike Boyle, graduate professor. “Remember that our relationship does not end there. MTSU is always here for both you and your graduate.”
“If you or your child haven’t thought about pursuing a graduate degree, then that’s something I would like to plant … in your ear,” shared Amy Harris, professor of information systems. “Our degree in information systems, we actually market it as a pivot degree because we welcome people from a wide variety of academic backgrounds.”
“If you have a student who is thinking about grad school … (the options with a) Master of Arts and Liberal Arts are incredibly broad, flexible, interdisciplinary. A student can build their program literally the way they want it to be,” said Janet McCormick, graduate professor.
“The graduate program in English is looking for new students who are looking for more insight into the human condition and are eager to hone their skills in research, critical analysis, and writing in standard literary composition and rhetorical studies and also in such areas as film, linguistics and children’s literature,” said Rhonda McDaniel, director of graduate studies in English.
— Stephanie Barrette (Stephanie.Barrette@mtsu.edu)