Several schools in the University of Maryland system are looking to expand their degree options by offering health and technology-based programs.
USM’s board of trustees voted on June 17 to authorize five of its institutions to adopt new curricula, with the majority of programs related to the technology and healthcare industries.
The 12 new programs were presented to the regents by Coppin State University, Towson University, Salisbury University, Frostburg State University and Bowie State University. Each university has introduced its own programs.
Towson and Salisbury offered new bachelor’s degrees in health sciences.
At Towson, the new program, known as the Bachelor of Science in Fitness and Wellness Leadership, is an extension of the kinesiology department.
Jaime DeLuca, director of the kinesiology department, said the program has been in development for a few years and combines some aspects of current programming, including exercise science and sports management. She said the program stemmed from students in the department feeling they couldn’t fit into exercise science or sport management.
“We started to realize that there was a crossover between these two programs that encompassed a lot of student interest,” DeLuca said.
DeLuca said the program focuses on teaching students how to coach a sport and lead a team. She said it will be available from the fall 2022 semester and more specific courses will be offered in the spring.
Similarly, Frostburg State is expanding its nursing program by introducing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a pathway for licensed practical nurses to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
According to Frostburg State President Ronald Nowaczyk, the school currently offers a program for registered nurses to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, but does not have a four-year program. He said the new programs will allow Frostburg State to give students the same four-year experience they could get at other universities.
“Right now, residents of western Maryland, if you want a four-year nursing experience, the closest public school is Towson,” Nowaczyk said. “But now we want to give people the opportunity to get that same four-year experience and earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing here.”
The increase in health-related programs comes as the world enters its third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, according to Daraius Irani, chief economist at the Towson Regional Institute for Economic Studies, the demand for nurses predates the pandemic, which has only exacerbated the shortage.
Also, Irani said, while there may be student demand for health-focused programs, it takes time for a university to have the necessary infrastructure.
“One of the things you face with a college is the ability to teach those kinds of subjects,” he said. welcome. “
Another trend in the degree programs offered is the emphasis on the technology industry. Bowie State offered three new bachelor’s degree programs and two new industry-related master’s degree programs.
Carl Goodman, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Bowie State, said the university conducted feasibility studies when it began considering new college programs and saw strong demand for tech jobs.
Additionally, he cited the need for greater diversity in the tech industry and how Bowie State, a historically black university, can help provide these learning opportunities for its students.
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“We’ve tried to diversify our academic portfolio by just being a traditional liberal arts institution, knowing that we’re also looking at market demand, that’s where…that we also follow and provide to our students, and definitely those students who are minorities, coming to HBCU, an opportunity to really have that first-hand experience,” Goodman said.
Echoing Irani, John Michel, an associate professor at Loyola University in Maryland, said universities’ academic offerings aren’t necessarily indicative of today’s job market.
He said the need for more tech-related jobs has been around for a decade and many universities are just playing catch-up.
“I think higher education is moving very slowly,” Michel said. “It moves at best at the speed of a snail. It’s almost impossible to get things moving very quickly.
While he agrees with Michel, Mac McComas, senior program director for the 21st Century Cities Initiative at Johns Hopkins University, said a link could be made between new degree offerings and the job market. actual job.
“I think it’s really a response to a long-standing trend and a long-standing need for this demand, where again you’ll see this and the two industries where the United States has imported a lot of talent, in sort of internationally for health and tech related jobs and we haven’t really been able to produce enough of that talent locally.