PASSHE Creates New Programs for Evolving Workforce

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Doctorate in Health Science is among the five new workforce degree programs.

Sean Mickalitis 

News Editor  

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) introduced five new degree programs that intend to address workforce needs in Pennsylvania and across the country. The programs will prepare students for existing jobs and emerging jobs.

The new programs include: 

Bachelor of Science in information technology at Millersville University 

Master of Accountancy at Slippery Rock University 

Master of Social Work at Slippery Rock University 

Master of Science in physician assistant studies at West Chester University  

Doctorate of Health Science in health sciences at East Stroudsburg University

The new programs are part of reform initiatives enunciated by Chancellor Daniel Greenstein, a change in the state system that will educate students and fill jobs, according to a press release from PASSHE.

“One of the most important things in the redesign is to make sure our programs align with workforce needs,” said PASSHE Media Relations Manager Kenn Marshall.

Marshall mentioned that many jobs students are searching for are in non-existing or emerging fields. The workforce is developing, so universities need to adapt their curriculums to reflect those changes.

“We’ve done a lot of research. We did a gap analysis a couple of years ago to see what the workforce will look like through 2026 and estimated how many jobs there will be in particular areas, how many students are graduating in those areas and what the gap is,” Marshall said. “It’s very important that universities have a forward-thinking mindset. It’s a key part of the redesign.”

The Bachelor of Science in information technology from Millersville University (MU) will focus on the healthcare sector.

The courses will be taught in classrooms, online or with a combination of the two.

The program will increase MU’s association with neighboring healthcare providers and agencies, including Hershey Medical Center, Highmark BlueShield, UPMC Pinnacle-Lancaster Regional and WellSpan.

The only new program not related to the healthcare or the wellbeing industry is Slippery Rock University’s (SRU) Master of Accountancy degree.

The program will prepare students for national certifications and jobs as public accountants, management accountants, internal auditors and fraud examiners.

The university will allow full-time students to complete the degree quickly, with courses offered in eight-week sessions with an estimated completion time of 12 months.

SRU offers another new degree, a Master’s in Social Work. The program will prepare students to diagnose and treat mental health disorders.

Students enrolled in the program can specialize in either crisis intervention or forensics. Once completed, students can take the Licensed Social Worker (LSW) exam in Pa.

Careers in social work are growing 16 percent faster than average for all occupations and is expected to add 109,700 jobs to the economy between the years 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).

Another healthcare focused degree is the Master of Science in physician assistant studies from West Chester University (WCU). This program also offers in-person and online classes to accommodate students who can’t be on campus full-time.

The program will prepare students to practice medicine with other physicians and focus on injury and illness related to aging.

Life expectancy has increased from 71.8 years in 1990 to 76.1 years in 2016, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Americans are living longer, and WCU is targeting this trend by providing new courses to enhance learning and meet this demand.

Lastly, ESU announced a Doctorate in Health Sciences. It’s scheduled to begin in the Fall of 2019. The program will be a hybrid of various in-person locations and online classes.

The university created the degree in response to a growing public necessity, a need that will generate 2.4 million jobs by 2026, according to BLS. 

“The number one priority in our efforts is student success. Students succeed by graduating and moving into a job that supports themselves and their families immediately out of college and into the future,” Marshall said “A higher education is a big investment. Making sure we’re offering the right programs is key to their success.”

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