New academic programs to begin within the year

This story was originally published in the Feb. 23 print issue.

On January 12, Mason received approval from the State Council of Higher Education to begin three new degree programs: a B.S. in Kinesiology, a M.A. in International Security and a PhD program in Heath Sciences Research.

The Bachelor of Science Degree in Kinesiology began this semester. Previously a concentration within the within the College of Education and Human Development, the new degree allows students to study kinesiology more thoroughly and also provides them with internship opportunities. According to the program’s website, students are prepared for careers in “clinical exercise, corporate fitness, medical and exercise equipment sales, mind-body studies, pharmaceutical sales, personal training, sport and exercise nutrition, sport science, strength and conditioning, or wellness/fitness management.” The website states that the B.S. provides students with a strong science background, while preparing them for professional schools or post-graduate studies in this area.

The M.A. in International Security will begin in the summer of 2015. Mark Rozell, acting dean of the School of Public Policy, says that the program will take advantage of Mason’s proximity to D.C., and that there is a need in the market for this area of study.

“[The degree is] a perfect convergence of circumstances: the need for a strong academic program in security studies in the national capital region combined with our unique ability to deliver such a program. We have several leading faculty in the area of security studies as well as such knowledgeable former practitioners as the former NSA and CIA director, former counsel to the NSA, former ambassadors, among others,” Rozell said.

Rozell says that the degree has been in the works since before he became dean in the summer of 2013.

“With emerging technologies and a changing character of war, there is enormous need to understand international security,” said Audrey Cronin, the director of Mason’s International Security Program. “This program is designed to build a generation of policy-makers well prepared to face security challenges, ethically and wisely.”

Cronin also described the growing gap between civilians and military personnel, saying that many people who have served in the military have received training in strategy and theory and have learned about the history of international security, but civilian contractors rarely receive this amount of training. This degree provides them with this training and also helps to bridge the gap between military service members and civilian contractors.

“We were determined to create this program and jumped through many high hoops to get there because we believe it is vital to our school, the university and the D.C. community,” Rozell said.

“A key reason why the degree was created was to educate wise policy-makers, with or without military backgrounds, who know how to respond wisely and ethically to tomorrow’s challenges,” Cronin added. “These range across the full spectrum of threats to human security, from terrorism to tsunamis, civil war to corruption, humanitarian crises to weapons of mass destruction.”

Thirty students have already enrolled in the program without any external advertising by the university. Rozell believes that this is very telling of the market that is out there, and that the reason this program is already so popular is because of the current and emerging job opportunities for students who have been trained in this area of study.

“An International Security Master’s degree is a broad, flexible qualification suited to the full range of public and private enterprises that deal with security issues,” Cronin said.

Students hoping to work in the public sector can apply for jobs with the U.N., the E.U. and the World Bank, as well as many federal agencies, such as the Pentagon, State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and other intelligence agencies. In the private sector, there are many think tanks and government contractors that hire students with similar degrees. Cronin said journalists and humanitarians can also benefit from knowledge of security situations.

“There’s a healthy demand for well-trained graduates in International Security,” Cronin said.

The Ph.D. in Heath Services Research gives students the option of pursuing one of two concentrations: Health Systems and Policy or Knowledge Discovery and Health Informatics. Dr. P.J. Maddox, chair of the Department of Health Administration and Policy, says the program was created in response “to employment and student demand” and added that it “compliments the department’s research mission.”

The concentration in Health Systems and Policy will provide students with “an in-depth understanding of health system functioning and health policy (state and federal), and the factors affecting healthcare service delivery and public health,” according to its website. The concentration in Knowledge Discovery and Health Informatics will teach students the skills that will allow them to research health and health system problems.

The department of Health Administration and Policy has been developing the program and its curriculum for the last three years. According to the program’s website, “students in the program will acquire the interdisciplinary knowledge and skills to creatively research complex health and health system problems in order to identify and develop innovations in health policy and health analytics to inform the way we finance, organize and deliver health care services for individuals, populations and communities.”

Students with this degree can work in a wide range of positions, some of which include research in the field, educating others or working as a leader in health care organizations or consulting firms. There are jobs in both the public and private sector, and the degree teaches them how to “support or regulate public and private health service entities.”

According to Maddox, it is too early to know how many students will apply for the program’s first year. “The application was just opened with a deadline for applications in May,” Maddox said.

Information sessions are currently being held for interested students. The program will begin in the fall of 2015.

Photo credit: Johannah Tubalado