Newswise — The University of Illinois at Chicago will begin offering a master’s degree program this fall to try and answer the increasing need for qualified leaders to run urban, higher education institutions.

The Master of Education in Urban Higher Education will be offered by UIC’s College of Education and will be a 36-hour program.

The M.Ed. in Urban Higher Education is the first of its kind in the state to focus on urban higher education and will offer a unique perspective nationally. The program is designed to, “prepare students to understand and effectively address the challenges of leaders of urban higher education institutions.”

The program is geared toward early to mid-career professionals who are looking to launch or advance a career working in universities dealing with urban issues in both leadership and research-oriented roles.

Marc Van Overbeke, associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Education, said the initiative will be one of the first graduate programs in the country to focus on urban higher education.

“More and more students are seeking out urban colleges and universities since cities are dynamic, exciting places to be, and UIC is the key urban, public institution,” said Van Overbeke. “Through this program, we are poised to contribute to an understanding of urban education, how all employees in a university are leaders, and how all employees can contribute to making urban institutions dynamic, engaging places for all students.”

Students enrolled in the 36-hour program will be required to take 20 hours of required courses and will be able to take 16 hours of elective courses and focus on one of two areas of emphasis: leadership, governance, organization and policy; or institutional research for decision making.

According to College of Education officials the degree program, “also will offer a critical, thoughtful examination of urban colleges and universities, their role and place in American cities, their strengths and challenges, and the ways in which they have shaped, contributed to, and been shaped by urban areas.”

Celina Sima, the new program’s coordinator and founder, has already received an outpouring of interest in the program from inside and outside of UIC.

“Prospective students have told me that they believe this urban-focused program curriculum will better prepare them to take advantage of the opportunities and address the challenges of universities in urban centers,” said Sima.

According to national and state labor statistics, there is a need for more individuals with the higher education credentials required to supply higher education positions that are available. Fifty-four percent of respondents to the Occupational Employment survey collected by the U.S. Census Bureau stated that a master’s degree was required for entry into a postsecondary administrative position.

“In addition to entry-level preparation for administrative positions in higher education, graduate programs in higher education provide a great opportunity for professional and academic development for those who already hold positions,” said Sima.

The six key themes that guide the program include:

  • The urban context’s specific opportunities and complex challenges
  • Building and maintaining equity and authentic diversity in higher education
  • Recognizing that everyone in higher education serves as a leader and advocate that contributes to the improvement of the organization
  • Principled leadership and ethical behavior as the foundation for sound professional practice
  • Teamwork and collaboration are crucial for continuous organizational improvement and advancement
  • Best practice in higher education requires evidence-based and data-informed decision-making

“It has been great to witness the faculty’s commitment to transform urban higher education. This degree moves us toward becoming a more comprehensive college of education, and it will extend our impact into the higher education landscape,” said Alfred Tatum, UIC’s dean of the College of Education.

Applications are currently being accepted for the program which will enroll its first group of students in the fall.

There will be an information session for anyone interested in the program on July 10 at 6 p.m. in the UIC Daley Library, 801 S. Morgan St., Room 1-470. Register for the session on the College of Education website.

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