The MU College of Engineering is rolling out a brand new, fully online, master’s degree program in Biological Engineering, with courses starting in the Fall 2019 term.
The program will be a full, semester-based, non-thesis degree program, which will allow distance and lifelong learners to receive either additional credentials or a full master’s degree. Current on-campus students have the opportunity to take online versions of in-person courses as part of their degree, as well.
“In a STEM field, your skills are cutting edge for about five years, then they begin to become obsolete,” MU Biomedical, Biological & Chemical Engineering Associate Professor and Online Program Coordinator Heather Hunt said. “We recognize that in order for our students to engage in lifelong learning and continue to have the necessary skills to move them along in their careers, they’re going to need to come back at some point to brush up on something, earn additional credentials, or learn something in a new area if they want to take their career in a new direction.
“Our long-term goal is to continue to build this long-term relationship with our students so when they think that they need to learn something new, they think of Mizzou as their primary resource.”
The program received an initial round of nearly $250,000 in funding from Mizzou Online. Hunt said the plan is to start with about 10 students the first semester, then ramp up to 30 over the next few years.
The courses will be online versions of master’s courses already taught on campus. These courses will be taught by Hunt, Director of Graduate Studies (Biological Engineering) Gary Yao and faculty members Ilker Ozden, Robert Thomen, Ferris Pfeiffer, Kattesh Katti, Sheila Grant and Andrew Gu. Hunt, Yao, BBCE Co-Department Chair Jinglu Tan and faculty members Gu, Pfeiffer and Ellen Wan served on the committee that set about making the online master’s degree a reality.
The faculty involved with teaching the courses are taking extensive measures to ensure that the online master’s degree program maintains the same level of quality as the on-campus program. They are working with Educational Technologies at Mizzou (ET@MO) to develop their courses using current best practice approaches, and all faculty teaching in the online program are taking ET@MO’s Online Teaching Foundations class to prepare.
In addition, each course will go through the nationally-recognized Quality Course Review Program, which is a rubric that measures the effectiveness of online courses measured against years of data on best practices.
“I think it’s really fantastic because it shows that our faculty care,” Hunt said. “This is going to be a high-quality program, and we’ve developed it that way from the beginning.”