Indiana State University Newsroom



Online master’s of biology, math and history now available

April 4, 2018

Indiana State University now offers online master's degrees in biology, math and history to support high school teachers becoming qualified to teach dual credit classes.

That's good news for teachers who are unable to travel to campus to enhance their education but still want to obtain a quality and affordable State degree.

"There have always been many teachers who wanted to work on their master's degrees or take courses that would make them better prepared to teach Advanced Placement or dual-credit courses," said Chris Olsen, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at State. "Because they work full-time, of course, this is one particular way to reach them and offer them the advanced graduate courses they want."

Olsen, who formerly chaired the history department at State, started the push to offer online graduate courses in history several years ago.

"The history degree has been online for several years with very positive feedback and growing enrollments," Olsen said. "I expect the biology and math courses will be similarly received with much enthusiasm."

As for math, Liz Brown, who is chair and professor of Indiana State's math/computer science department, says the online offerings will help energize the math program.

"It does a lot for adult professionals, teachers and other people who want to work on a master's degree while they are still working," she said. "And it's very possible to do one or two classes per semester while still working and living wherever they live. And it's good for our programs, too. It's a way to grow our master's program and revitalize it also."

The courses, which are offered in the late afternoon or early evening, are synchronous, which means students log on to the classroom and have an online presence in class along with the students who are physically on campus. The online technology allows them to be part of the classroom as if they were sitting in the first row -- big screens and high quality sound and cameras that follow the instructor.

"When I wrote equations or whatever, it was seen by the students and by the person studying online at the same time," Brown said. "That's so much better than doing a PowerPoint. And students at a distance can share their input also. They can use a white board or the camera on their computer to show their work. So it's possible to set up groups to work together, some on campus, some off campus."

Jill Blunk, director of the College Challenge program at Indiana State, agrees.

"The students are logging in at certain times so they are interacting with one another, which is such a great advantage," Blunk said. "It's such a benefit for the students to interact with other students and their instructor at the same time, even though they may be in vastly different locations geographically."

Blunk said the course expectations are the same as the students sitting in the classroom, and that's important for State to hold the online students to the same high standards as those students on campus.

The advantages of earning an advanced degree are enormous to the education professional, Brown said.

"This opportunity really pushes for high school teachers who want to teach dual credit classes," she said. "They can also get additional jobs as faculty at junior colleges. It just opens so many more opportunities, and it helps you to become a better teacher. The more you know, the more you can teach. You can never learn too much."

In the past, the state government offered teachers an increase in pay for obtaining a master's degree.

"They don't do that anymore," Blunk said. "So in the state of Indiana we're lacking in incentive for teachers to do the graduate degrees, outside of their own personal desire to do so."

Despite the state ending its incentive program, there is a growing interest for dual-credit courses among high school students. "At the time it was a good opportunity for teachers, but since that time, dual credit has really grown and become a huge demand from the students. It's very helpful for high school students to achieve their college degrees on time. Our online programs enable both student populations to reach their goals."

Now is a good time to apply for the master's of biology, history and math programs at Indiana State because there are scholarships available, said Blunk, who recruits high school teachers trying to get the credential requirements to teach a College Challenge class.

"We're very fortunate in that we have some budgeted funds available for teachers to help them cover tuition for their courses," Blunk said, "which is a great incentive for teachers."

Scholarships for the online master's programs require a three-year minimum commitment of teaching at their high school, and teachers must have their principal's support. "We've been able to help a lot of teachers," Blunk said.

Indiana State Online offers more than 70 programs -- many of which are nationally ranked and award winning -- that can be completed entirely online or with minimal on-campus visits. Also available are a variety of online minors, doctoral and specialist programs and certificates and licensures to those requiring additional education and training in their degree programs.

For more information about Indiana State's online programs, go to indstate.edu/online. For more information about scholarships for high school teachers, contact Jill Blunk, director of the College Challenge Program, at 812-237-2670 or Jill.Blunk@indstate.edu.

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Media contact: Ken Brauchle, dean of extended learning, Indiana State University, 812-237-8384 or ken.brauchle@indstate.edu

Story Highlights

State-of-the-art technology brings a State education directly to learners, just as if they were sitting in the first row of a classroom -- big screens and high quality sound and cameras that follow the instructor.

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