Master’s Degree Program no longer at risk of deletion

Analicia Haynes, Online Editor


The master’s degree program in Special Education is no longer being considered for deletion or consolidation as of Friday morning.

The program, along with others, was originally recommended for elimination or consolidation by Workgroup no. 7, which looked at Academic Programs as a part of the vitalization project.

However, this changed when Kathlene Shank, the department chair of special education, said she met with Provost Blair Lord Friday to discuss the online program that has been in the making for the special education master’s program since Fall 2014.

She said after the administration recognized all the work being done for the master’s program, including offering hybrid courses that have been offered for the last two years, they took it off the list for elimination or consolidation.

“We’re ready to go fully online next fall,” Shank said. “We need to support this.”

The program will be offered only in an online format to make it available for students who are busy with careers or who cannot easily commute to campus.

Two graduate courses will be delivered each semester, including during the summer.

Each course will be delivered in an eight-week format.

Shank said the first target group is students who graduated within the past seven years because they already believe in the special education program and can build on what they already learned.

Over the past seven years, 537 students from Eastern have graduated with an undergraduate degree in special education.

She also said at the Workgroup no. 8, Academic Visioning I meeting, that to move up the salary schedule in any district in the state, a master’s degree is required and most educators pursue that degree within seven years of graduating.

Shank said they want to bring in a minimum of 40 candidates, then they will market the program to other students statewide as well.

According to a handout consisting of the program details that Shank gave Workgroup no. 8 members, the program is needed due to the ongoing shortage of teachers in special education at all levels.

Currently, Shank said there are only four schools in the state that offer the master’s program, but Eastern is the only school to offer it online.

She said the department has not advertised the online program yet because it is still working through the steps to complete the program.

There are two more steps the department needs to take before the program is complete.

They have to present the final courses to the Graduate Committee and have Ryan Hendrickson, dean of the graduate school, accept it by executive action. Then they have to present the program to the Illinois Board of Education.


Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]