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Hardin-Simmons University offers new doctoral degrees and MBA

Three new advanced degree programs will be offered at Hardin-Simmons University beginning in the 2012-2013 academic year. The HSU Board of Trustees recently approved the two new doctoral degrees, and a new track will be added to the M.B.A. degree program.

The new programs are part of a growing trend among universities in the United States to remain globally competitive as the premier location for post-graduate studies. According to the Council of Graduate Schools, during a 10-year period (1999 to 2009) doctoral degrees awarded in the United States increased annually by an average of 3.5%. Graduate education in European universities has also grown through the establishment of the European Higher Education Area.

HSU professors headed the teams that formulated the new degree offerings. Dr. Mary Christopher, associate dean of Irvin School of Education, professor of education studies, certification officer, and graduate program director, assisted by Dr. Pam Williford, dean of the Irvin School of Education, led the team for the new Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree in leadership.

Dr. Robert Friberg, professor of physical therapy and Dr. Janelle O’Connell, director of the graduate studies program in physical therapy and professor of physical therapy, led the combined professorial and staff team that developed the Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) degree in functional manual therapy.

Dr. Doug McIntyre, associate professor of business, and director of job placement and internships in the Kelley College of Business; Dr. Jennifer Plantier, assistant professor of business and marketing, and director of the Master of Business Administration program; and Edgar Reed, instructor of fitness and sport sciences in the Irvin School of Education, comprised the team that developed the new Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree in sports management.

Doctor of Education in Leadership


The Doctor of Education degree in leadership seeks to merge scholars with community practitioners to develop enlightened, ethical leaders. Christopher says, “Through study in a faith-based environment, graduates of the program will embody skills, knowledge, and dispositions to bridge theories with research-based practices to become visionary leaders.

“Good leadership, like critical thinking, crosses all boundaries and applies to all circumstances in which people work together,” she says. Christopher points to several significant writers on the topic of leadership, and leaders in the Abilene area who agree that good leadership requires good character. “While the students who seek this doctorate in leadership may enter the program with well-developed character, the doctoral studies will influence further character development,” says Christopher. “Developing and encouraging the unique gifts and skills of an effective team requires character that demonstrates respect for fellow human beings. HSU’s inherent Christian foundation provides the perfect base for fostering exemplary character essential for leadership.”

The program has been designed to meet the demands of employment and family responsibilities many post-graduate students face. Students will receive supportive learning opportunities in various settings through faculty visits to student locations in other cities, video-conferencing, Skype, online chats, podcasts, and Blackboard assignments. Christopher says students will also benefit as they move through the program in cohort groups, providing collegial support, enhanced camaraderie, professional networking, and increased retention throughout the program. The diverse delivery model highlights a personal connection with students while providing a positive, productive learning environment that does not require residence on the HSU campus or in Abilene, Texas.

The interdisciplinary degree will offer the opportunity for concentrated leadership programs in a variety of disciplines. The initial concentration will be in higher education leadership. In the future, considerations for other areas will be explored.

Another unique distinction of the program includes three brief summer residencies (approximately one week each in length) that incorporate action research (a practical application of theoretical knowledge and research skills) in authentic settings at in Austin, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and a specified global location.

U.S. News and World Report lists higher education administration among the Best Careers of 2011 with a strong job market for university administrative positions, which require a master’s or doctoral degree. Growth in the community college sector is projected to be even stronger. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a rapid employment growth rate of 8% in the field of higher education administration is projected from 2008-2018, and expected retirements will add to job opportunities.

Students completing an Ed.D. in higher education leadership must also consider potential salaries, says Christopher. In May 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that postsecondary school administrators earned a median income of $80,670. While salaries vary based on location and enrollment, administrators during 2008-2009 earned up to $158,000.

Doctor of Science in Functional Manual Therapy


The Doctor of Science degree in functional manual therapy provides a unique opportunity to integrate advanced study of applied sciences (relevant to physical therapy) with clinical skills offered through the Institute of Physical Art (IPA), a nationally recognized clinical organization specializing in functional manual therapy.

Dr. O’Connell explains that in 2000, when professor of physical therapy, Dr. Bob Friberg, joined the HSU PT faculty, a close relationship was started with IPA. Through this relationship, HSU students began participating in IPA clinical workshops as part of their clinical internship process. “With this positive history between HSU and IPA, there is a good match to provide a distinctive D.Sc. degree in functional manual therapy from HSU,” says O’Connell.

In the new program, directed by Friberg, physical therapists will combine post-professional academic coursework and advanced clinical skills to obtain both a functional manual therapy certification (through IPA) and a D.Sc. degree through Hardin-Simmons University.

The D.Sc. program consists of 64 credit hours. Ten clinical courses at HSU will augment the 10 IPA workshops that will contribute to 29 hours in the curriculum. Ten foundational courses will also be offered by HSU. These will include five applied science courses in biomechanics, neuromechanics, motor control, orthopedic physiology, advanced anatomy and an elective applied science course oriented to functional manual therapy. Additionally, students will take two research methodology courses and two courses focused on instructional design and educational outcome. The doctoral work will culminate with a doctoral research dissertation.

Based on the results of a needs assessment, Friberg says the program expects to attract at least 10 to 15 new students each year. Students will be expected to complete general coursework in four years, assuming the student takes approximately 18 credit hours per year.

The program is designed as a limited residency model where students would be expected to come to campus for a long weekend only one time per semester. Significant amounts of the coursework will be primarily distance-based, says O’Connell.

M.B.A. in Sports Management


In addition to the two new doctoral degrees, a new track will be added to the M.B.A. degree this fall. Students can currently earn a generalized Master of Business Administration degree from Hardin-Simmons University or the Acton M.B.A. in Entrepreneurship, which is housed in Austin, Texas. HSU’s new specialized M.B.A. in sports management will be available on the Abilene HSU campus.

Hardin-Simmons University has a large population of students active in sports programs, about 22% of the student body. Reed says, “HSU’s Irvin School of Education produces graduates from its Bachelor of Behavioral Science in fitness and sport sciences. These are students who represent a ready market for a graduate business degree in the sports field, which is popular throughout Texas.” McIntyre adds, “Fifteen colleges and universities in Texas currently offer a sport management program, 10 of them offering master’s degrees.

“Applications for these programs have risen in recent years,” says McIntyre, “as undergraduates have sought to beef up their credentials before hitting the job market.”

According to McIntyre, the new track will prepare managers and leaders for the dynamic and growing sports management, event management, and entertainment industries. The program will provide advanced study in all functional areas of business and will include those particular issues that arise in the field of sport management. As with any graduate program, it will help students develop and refine broad skills and abilities such as analytical thinking and problem solving.

The M.B.A. in sports management can be completed in 45 academic hours.

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