After more than a century of educating students as a training school, junior college, and four-year institution, Ferrum College will now offer graduate degree programs, which will begin in fall 2020 and will be administered as online courses.
The Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges has approved Ferrum College as a level four school, allowing the addition of two graduate programs: a Specialist in Education (EdS) in teacher leadership and coaching, and a Master of Science in psychology.
“This is an important and historic moment for Ferrum College,” said President David Johns. “We have been listening to our students and to our region, and as we have in the past, we grow and change when there is need. We are part of this community, and we are committed to helping the community thrive.”
“Ferrum College is excited about offering graduate-level programs which will provide access to advanced education in the areas of psychology and teacher education. In the coming weeks and months, the faculty will be creating additional programs and certificates to meet the needs within our community,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Aimé Sposato.
Alumna Sandra Via has been named director of the School of Graduate and Online Studies. Via is a 2004 graduate of Ferrum College and has served the College for ten years as an adjunct professor, an associate professor of political science, and as the program coordinator of international studies. She will direct the implementation and logistical coordination of the graduate programs.
Via earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science from Ferrum College. She holds a Master of Arts in political science from Virginia Tech and a doctorate in planning, governance, and globalization, also from Virginia Tech.
“I am honored and excited to be able to implement Ferrum College’s first graduate programs,” said Via. “Our new graduate degree programs embody our mission by promoting the intellectual, ethical, and civic growth of students into leaders that serve their community and the world. Like our undergraduate programs, these graduate programs incorporate a personalized learning experience, specialized and caring attention from faculty, and an experiential learning experience for which Ferrum College is known.”
The Master of Science in psychology will attract graduate students who wish to prepare for research and teaching careers that require an advanced degree, such as working at non-profit organizations, for-profit companies, governmental agencies, social services agencies, educational institutions, and community outreach organizations.
The Education Specialist degree is geared toward students who already hold a master’s degree and wish to advance their professional knowledge in either teacher leadership or coaching.
Both programs could also serve as a stepping stone to a doctoral program in either discipline.
Ferrum College started accepting applications for enrollment in its graduate programs in January. The College plans to launch additional graduate degree programs within the next two years.
Ferrum Training School was founded in 1913 as many young people in the Blue Ridge area had no access to public education. The training school’s first classes began in September 1914 under the leadership of its first principal, Dr. Benjamin Beckham. In 1939, the Virginia Department of Education accredited Ferrum Junior College and its name officially reflected this level change in 1948. Ferrum Junior College was then accredited by the Southern Association of College and Secondary Schools in 1960 and instituted a two-plus-two four-year academic structure in 1974. The first four-year degree was awarded in 1976.