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USM-H to offer doctorate

May 02, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Hagerstown's university campus will start its first doctorate degree program in January.

To start, the University of Maryland at College Park will run the doctorate in education program. Later, Frostburg State University will take over.

C. David Warner III, executive director of the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, said the educational doctorate, in leadership and policy studies, will appeal to teachers and principals pursuing administrative positions.

USM-H has a list of 30 people interested in applying for the three-year program, spokeswoman Erin Harman said last week. The number of students who will be in the first class hasn't been determined.

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Responding to a survey, about 50 people with Washington County Public Schools said they would like a local educational doctorate program, Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said.

"In the field of education, a doctorate is important," she said.

The Hagerstown campus currently offers 19 graduate and undergraduate programs through five University System schools, including the University of Maryland. A sixth school has noncredit classes there.

The education doctorate, the 20th degree program, will start in January with what Warner called a "closed cohort," limited to school employees in Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties.

The University of Maryland, which currently offers a doctor of education degree at College Park, will oversee the first group at USM-H.

Some dissertation and advisory meetings might be at College Park, but other instruction will be in Hagerstown.

During that time, members of Frostburg's faculty will be "affiliate faculty" to the University of Maryland, which will act, in a sense, as a mentor.

Frostburg might be ready to start its own doctorate program before the first three years at USM-H are up; that also hasn't been decided.

Kenneth Witmer Jr., the dean of Frostburg's College of Education, said he has a list of more than 50 people who want a doctorate program at the Frostburg campus.

People in that area who want an education doctorate go to West Virginia University, he said.

In Washington County, two of the closest choices are College Park or Virginia Tech's program at Falls Church, Va., Warner said.

Witmer said an education doctorate also could help people get positions outside the educational system or improve their research skills.

"You learn more about information, how to apply it and use scientific methodology," he said.

Plans for the education doctorate have been in the works at USM-H for about two years.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission sent Warner a letter last month saying it had approved the program.

Warner said he will meet with representatives from College Park and Frostburg in a few weeks to go over more specifics.

Next month, USM-H will hold a public information session to introduce and explain the program.

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