LU News Archive

Green light for online Ed.D. program

Lamar University’s online programs have moved to the head of the class with the approval of its proposed online Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board today.

The degree, which will be offered through a 100-percent online program, builds upon the university’s experience in online education and its expertise in education as a NCATE-accredited institution of higher learning. The program complements the university’s successful on-campus Ed.D. program. It will not impact the current on-campus program that currently enrolls 65 students and has seen a 95 percent graduation rate with more than 60 graduates to date, officials said.

The Ed.D. program will allow students to focus their studies in the areas of effective schools, diversity and multiculturalism, or higher education.

“Doctoral students are educators who want to become effective leaders in a wide array of settings where they emphasis is on student learning and quality teaching,” said Paula Nichols, executive director of distance learning at Lamar. “Our program will prepare educators to promote effective schooling and success for all learners in an increasingly diverse society. Our graduates will be prepared for roles as leaders in schools, colleges, universities, health and human service agencies, and a variety of other public and private educational settings.”

The program already has a waiting list of more than 100 individuals and a ready market of applicants in the more than 4,000 graduates of Lamar’s online Master’s of Education programs. The Texas Association of School Administrators estimates that more than 70 percent of current public school superintendents will be eligible for retirement within the next five years. The doctorate is required or expected in large urban and surrounding school districts with more than 75 percent of campus principals holding a doctorate degree. Almost all central office positions, such as executive directors, assistant or associate superintendents, and superintendents require a doctorate.

The new online Ed.D. program will be managed by the university using experience it has gained in its successful online master’s programs, Nichols said.

“The online delivery of our existing and highly successful doctoral program will meet the needs of leaders in Texas education who are familiar with Lamar’s model of five-week rigorous graduate-level courses,” said Paula Nichols, executive director of distance learning at Lamar.

Enrollment in Lamar’s two master’s in education programs reached a peak of 4,100, comprising 21 percent of the university’s total enrollment, helping Lamar become the fastest-growing state university in Texas and moving its Graduate College of Education from 211th in the U.S. in total enrollment to seventh in just 18 months.

The basic model of the master’s program is delivery of Lamar’s accredited instructional content from its faculty, but with the assistance of instructional associates to help students with more routine issues and concerns. The support of the academic coaches enables each faculty member to work with a much greater number of students than would be possible in a more traditional format. Experience not only shows that the model works, but that its educational outcomes meet, or exceed, those of the more traditional methods, Nichols said.

In 2010, a special committee of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the accrediting body for the university, conducted a comprehensive on-site audit of the entire program. That committee noted that the educational model was well suited for Texas teachers as “self-disciplined inquiry-learners.” The on-line students are exceeding the on-campus student’s performance on the TExES Certification exam, official said.

Also in 2010, the Texas Education Agency’s director of education standards and the deputy associate commissioner conducted a comprehensive audit of the Lamar online graduate education program and commended it for providing a comprehensive, research-based instruction program that was appropriate for distance learning.

Both the SACS and TEA committees commended the frequent feedback given to the graduate students, the monitoring of their field experiences and research projects and the daily interaction made possible in the program.