According to Opal Kirkland, earning a master’s degree in education is all about helping others.
The special education teacher and mother of three sought an online program that fit well with her busy schedule while delivering a more personal learning experience.
She found exactly what she needed in the School of Education at Mississippi College.
“A master’s degree would benefit me greatly,” Kirkland said. “Becoming a professor would allow me to help others reach their teaching goals.
“Finding Mississippi College was the absolute best. The class schedule was perfect and my professors have been wonderful to work and communicate with.”
DeMarcus Frazier envisions a future in academic administration. He was seeking an online master’s degree program with high flexibility and low cost.
“An aspect of MC’s program I benefit from is the course design,” Frazier said. “It typically lasts seven weeks with a break in between, and the professors provide assistance in any way they can. In terms of cost, this is one of the most affordable master’s programs that I have seen.
“As a future assistant principal, having this degree will give me a deeper understanding and equip me with the skills I need to grow teachers in special education.”
The School of Education at MC’s dynamic online master’s degree program has also drawn the attention of the nation’s most respected consumer media publishing company. According to rankings released Feb. 7, U.S. News and World Report has named the online Master’s in Education Program at Mississippi College one of the best in the state.
In its 2024 Best Online Programs webpage, U.S. News listed MC’s program along with those from the University of Mississippi, Blue Mountain College, Belhaven University, and Jackson State University. It’s the third consecutive year the media organization has included the Mississippi College School of Education in its prestigious listing.
“We are delighted to once again be named among the U.S. News and World Report best online master’s degrees in education,” said Cindy Melton, dean of the School of Education at MC. “The conceptual framework within the Department of Teacher Education and Leadership and the mission of the University include a focus on academic excellence.
“It is very encouraging for our programs to receive national recognition for the overall academic quality of the degrees and programs we are offering, as well as the commitment, support, and personal connection our faculty consistently provide for our students.”
To tabulate its rankings, U.S. News measured services offered remotely and course delivery best practices. 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.
Only predominantly online degree programs from entry to completion were included in the rankings.
For the 2024 edition of its Best Online Master’s in Education Programs listing, U.S. News ranked online graduate education programs in five categories:
Engagement – Quality online graduate education programs grant aspiring teachers and educational administrators opportunities to readily interact with their instructors and classmates; in turn, instructors are not only accessible and responsive, but they are also tasked with helping to create an experience rewarding enough that students stay enrolled and complete their degrees in a reasonable amount of time.
Faculty Credentials and Training – Strong online programs employ instructors with academic credentials that mirror those of instructors for campus-based programs and have the resources to train these instructors to teach distance learners.
Peer Assessment – A survey of high-ranking academic officials in education helps account for intangible factors affecting program quality that statistics don’t capture; employers may hold in high regard degrees from programs that academics respect.
Services and Technologies – Programs that incorporate diverse online learning technologies allow greater flexibility for students to take classes from a distance; outside of classes, strong support structures provide learning assistance, career guidance, and financial aid resources commensurate with quality campus-based programs.
Student Excellence – Students entering with proven aptitudes, ambitions, and accomplishments can handle the demands of rigorous coursework; online degrees that schools award judiciously can have greater legitimacy in the job market.
“The online Master’s in Education Program at MC offers increased flexibility for graduate students,” Melton said. “Students in these programs are able to work from their office, classroom, or home, and within timeframes that fit more comfortably with their own busy schedules.
“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.”
She said the School of Education at MC offers online degree programs spanning at least five different areas.
“This range 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 – from honing their skills as classroom teachers to opening doors as program and curriculum coordinators or preparing for administrative positions.”
U.S. News employed date collected from 316 schools nationwide that offer online education master’s degrees between October and November 2023 to generate its rankings.
Melton credited the school’s faculty and staff for helping to secure a coveted spot on the U.S. News listing.
“We have an amazing team of dedicated faculty and staff with expertise in their field who lead and teach throughout our online programs,” she said. “The School of Education also has great support from our administration, our local school districts, and our alumni. It takes each of these important pieces to have programs with continued success and recognition.
“Our full-time faculty within the Department of Teacher Education and Leadership also 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.”
She said the School of Education is looking to expand its online programs, particularly in the area of teacher leadership.
“We are always excited to come alongside teachers in the field looking to grow professionally. The Mississippi Department of Education now offers an endorsement in this area for teachers who want to remain in the classroom and lead at a departmental level, or who want to hone their skills in teaching pedagogy and practice.”
Being included among the finest online master’s degree programs in the country is a source of pride for MC’s School of Education students.
“The U.S. News ranking is a recognized report of top colleges in the nation, and for Mississippi College’s online master’s program to be recognized is a great accomplishment,” Frazier said. “This lets me know that I have selected one of the best of the best. The knowledge and rigor of this program promotes a profound understanding of education, which can open doors to other opportunities.”
“Knowing that the college I will be graduating from has received such recognition from U.S. News and World Report for 2024 makes me feel honored and proud to tell others about Mississippi College,” Kirkland said.
Founded in 1933 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., 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. More than 40 million people visit usnews.com each month for research and guidance.
For more information about MC’s online education programs, visit online.mc.edu.