Kennesaw State University to offer new master’s degree in first-year studies

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Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approves new degree program

KENNESAW, Ga.  (Oct. 18, 2013) — Kennesaw State University, a national leader in first-year initiatives, is taking the next step in helping students make the transition to college by training the individuals who work with first-year college students through a new master’s degree in first-year studies.

Approved by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia last week, the program is the first graduate degree program of its kind in Georgia and the U.S.

“Student success is a hallmark of what we do at Kennesaw State,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ken Harmon. “The University has long been a leader in first-year programs, and this new degree solidifies our reputation as a forerunner in this field.”

The new graduate program will provide participants with knowledge of the transitions that first-year students face and prepare them to design, manage and deliver curricular and co-curricular programs to help first-year students succeed.  The fully online degree program will begin in Fall 2015 and will be administered by faculty in the Department of First-Year and Transition Studies in Kennesaw State’s University College.

“This was a bold step on the part of the Board of Regents to establish a program that will be the first of its kind anywhere in the world,” said Ralph Rascati, dean of the University College. “The program will focus on the transitions that first-year students face and will be delivered by faculty with specific expertise in this emerging discipline.”

First-Year Studies is focused on the unique transitions occurring in the first year or early college experience.  A growing body of research has shown that first-year programs have a demonstrated record of increasing student retention, progression and graduation rates while enhancing students’ connections to campus.

Graduates of Kennesaw State’s new program will be prepared to help USG and Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) institutions meet their goal of supporting the success of all students who enroll at higher education institutions in Georgia. With a growing national emphasis on college completion, graduates of the program will also be able to respond to similar needs at academic institutions across the U.S.

This new Master of Science degree will encompass the theory and study of factors affecting the initial college experience, including foundations of students’ transitional experiences and research on various programs that promote a successful transition.

 “It’s not often that you get to lead the way,” said Keisha Hoerrner, associate dean of the University College. “This degree will help develop the next generation of faculty, staff and administrators who can continue to do good work with first-year students and expand the research on college transitions.”

In 1983, Kennesaw State began offering first-year seminars to help students make the difficult transition from high school to the college environment. Today, four different first-year seminars are offered at Kennesaw State to more than 3,000 students.

In September, Kennesaw State was named by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 16 institutions for First-Year Experience programs in the 2013 “America’s Best Colleges” edition. This is the 11th consecutive year that Kennesaw State has been honored in this category by U.S. News.

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 90 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing and a Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 24,600 from 130 countries.