Master’s degrees in engineering and psychology, which administrators believe are needed in today’s job market, will soon be offered at Texas State.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved a new Master’s of Arts degree in Psychological Research and a preliminary proposal for a Master’s of Science in Engineering Jan. 8. The master’s degree offered through the Psychology Department will be available to students starting in fall 2013. Student applications are already being filed and processed for the upcoming semester. While the psychology degree was fully approved, the coordinating board only approved the preliminary proposal of the master’s degree in engineering.
Stacey Silverman, deputy assistant commissioner for the coordinating board, said the proposals for a master’s degree in engineering require more work because the degrees can be expensive. She said the engineering department has met the funds criteria and other conditions and is now approved to continue developing the advanced syllabi and curriculum.
“They met all the requirements, so we quickly approved the psychology degree and the preliminary for the engineering degree,” Silverman said. “The university is adequately prepared for these degrees and knows what it’s doing.”
The psychology department currently has a master’s degree in place for Health Psychology, but William Kelemen, chair of the Psychology Department, said it will be phased out for the broader research degree. While the research degree requires two statistics and a biological psychology course, the freedom to do research in a wide range of electives will allow students to focus on their interests within psychology.
The degree will provide students statistical training and solid writing skills they may not have developed on the bachelor’s level, Kelemen said.
“We really want to make this program as strong as it can be, which will only happen when good students and good faculty work together,” Kelemen said. “Then far down the road we could look into a Ph.D.”
The department has hired faculty who are research-oriented to aid students in developing their thesis and research projects. Students will have access to faculty completing some of the highest quality of work, with some professors being published in the Journal of Science, Kelemen said.
“This is the right time and place to introduce a master’s program,” Kelemen said. “What’s going on in psychology, especially its research, is really making it into the mainstream, and people are interested. It’s what I call ‘the golden age of psychology.’”
Harold Stern, director of the Ingram School of Engineering, also said this is a good time to offer a master’s degree in his department. He said there is a real need for graduate engineers in Central Texas who have “a breadth and depth beyond the B.S. degree.”
“Companies want good managers and corporate officers who have that higher level of training,” Stern said. “This is really a win-win-win situation. We can’t wait to get started. This is a really fun place to be.”
Students may work on a thesis under the proposed engineering master’s degree, but they are also eligible to do an alternative project report. This variation in the program is special to engineering, since some of the projects are to be kept secret because companies want their ideas to be exclusive. To keep ties with local companies, the project reports will be reviewed by faculty but remain unpublished. The approval of the coordinating board would establish credibility for unpublished work.
If the final proposal is approved for the master’s in engineering, the projected date for enrollment is August 2014.