Taylor Mraz, a full-time teacher at Eastside Elementary School and assistant volleyball coach at Clinton High School, is thankful that Mississippi College offers a Master’s in Education program online.
Attending classes and completing assignments and exams remotely have allowed her the flexibility to obtain her advanced degree while not missing a step professionally.
When U.S. News and World Report revealed that MC’s program had made its 2023 Best Online Programs rankings, Mraz felt her time and effort in obtaining her degree from Mississippi College had been justified.
“It is an honor knowing that the program I completed has such high rankings within U.S. News,” Mraz said. “Anytime you complete something you have been working hard for, you feel a sense of accomplishment, but knowing this makes it even more rewarding.”
Ginger Douell, a second-grade teacher at Northside Elementary School, wasn’t surprised to learn the program she recently completed had once again achieved U.S. News notoriety.
“I know that I am better prepared in all aspects of education,” Douell said. “The advancement of my education has carried over into my leadership roles within my class, our school, and my school district. It has also encouraged academic growth as well as personal growth for me.
“The flexibility of the online program was a seamless addition to my everyday life.”
U.S. News, one of the most prestigious consumer media publishing companies, released its ranking of the nation’s top online programs on Jan. 24. The rankings measure the overall academic quality of degree-granting programs housed at regionally accredited institutions offering predominantly online classes needed to complete the degree.
The rankings measure whether the online degree programs have academic standards commensurate with quality brick-and-mortar programs that are properly adapted toward the unique pedagogy of distance education. The company considered services offered remotely and course delivery best practices based on five categories: engagement, expert opinion, faculty credentials and training, services and technologies, and student excellence.
Only predominantly online degree programs are included in the rankings, from entry to completion.
Cindy Melton, dean of the School of Education at MC, said the rankings reflect the University’s deep commitment to quality in higher education.
“Mississippi College has a longstanding reputation of academic excellence throughout our state,” Melton said. “It is very encouraging to see our programs receive national recognition for the quality of the programs we offer as well as the commitment and personal connection we provide for our students.”
The School of Education offers online degree programs in several areas of specialization, including Educational Leadership and Administration, Curriculum and Instruction, Elementary Education, Online Learning and Instruction, and Special Education.
“This range of programs allows current educators the opportunity for professional growth and development in many areas so they can continue their educational journey while preparing for a variety of roles within the field of education,” Melton said, “from honing their skills as classroom teachers to opening doors as program and curriculum coordinators or preparing for administrative positions.”
That’s the case for Mraz, who has taken lessons learned in MC’s online program and applied them, both inside and outside of the classroom.
“The information I gained while in this program has given me insight and has deepened my knowledge greatly,” she said. “I have been and will continue to apply what I have learned not only in my classroom, but also within our curriculum development and professional learning groups.”
Melton said MC’s online Master’s in Education Program offers increased flexibility for graduate students like Mraz and Douelle.
“Students in these programs are able to work from their office, classroom, or home, and within timeframes that fit more comfortably with their busy schedules,” she said. “Our fully online programs also allow educators to enroll and participate as an MC student from anywhere in the state, country, or globe, and complete a degree from our fully accredited and reputable University.”
As a Baptist-affiliated higher education institution, MC’s faith-based curricula contribute to the excellence of its online educational degree programs, which attract many students back to the Christian University to obtain their graduate degrees.
“We are delighted to see so many of our undergraduates return to MC for a graduate degree,” Melton said. “They know, expect, and appreciate the academic preparation and personal investment that our faculty provide, along with the faith-based perspective and the sense of community, which make us distinctly MC.”
Perhaps the most important drawing card, Melton said, is the faculty in the School of Education.
“These programs are taught by our full-time faculty who have a deep commitment to their Christian faith and teach from a Christ-centered perspective, which allows us to discuss the challenges of the teaching profession from a faith-based view,” she said. “Our faculty within the Department of Teacher Education and Leadership serve as the advisors and instructors in these programs, so our students are learning from faculty who have not only the experience and credentials to help prepare their students, but also the compassion and commitment to Christian higher education for which MC is known.”
Because it had been a few years since Douell had been a college student, she was initially hesitant to commit the time and resources to obtain her master’s degree. She found that MC’s online program allowed her to complete her assignments and still enjoy her life outside of school and work.
“The professors, advisors, and our dean of education were all so invested in my success and encouraging in the growth of our profession,” Douell said. “I know that a degree from Mississippi College isn’t just a piece of paper but an acknowledgment of knowledge and growth.”
U.S. News and World Report is the global leader in quality rankings that empower consumers, business leaders and policy officials to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives and communities. A multifaceted digital media company with education, health, money, travel, cars, news, real estate, and 360 reviews platforms, U.S. News provides rankings, independent reporting, data journalism, consumer advice, and U.S. News Live events. More than 40 million people visit usnews.com each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S. News is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
For more information about MC’s online education programs, visit mc.edu/online/degree-programs.