Truman adds three online master’s programs to list of offerings

Truman State University adopted three new fully online master’s programs in counseling and data science and analytic storytelling, slated to start spring 2021.

For the first time, Truman will have new, fully online master’s programs. Currently, Truman only has a master’s in English that can be taken online or in-person. Truman is starting a master’s of science in data science and analytic storytelling beginning spring 2021, a master’s of art in mental health counseling and a master’s of art in school counseling. The applications for the new online master’s programs became available Nov. 1. 

Janet Gooch, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, said the new online programs are intended to attract a new audience to Truman — students who would not usually look at Truman for online master’s because the school did not have them before. 

Gooch said the new programs are intended for students who have been working for a while and want to get their master’s degree. Usually, this type of student would not want to stay on a residential campus. 

“We figured that if we could launch the education school counseling and mental health counseling programs, it would be best to do that online to attract people who are out there working,” Gooch said.

Jeanne Harding, director of Truman’s Institute for Academic Outreach, Graduate Studies and Field Experiences, said that with the programs being online, they are more accessible and the barriers for people worldwide are eliminated.

Harding said Truman has had a certificate in data science and analytic storytelling for a few years. The certificate was five courses, three credit hours each totaling in at 15 credit hours.

“Turning [the certificate] into a master’s degree, we add a component that is called the analytic storytelling,” Harding said. “So what do you do when you get information and this data? How do you tell a story?” 

Harding said data analytic science is a growing field and there is a huge demand now for people who can work with the data, not just to gather it but to really understand it and tell what it means.

“The master of science in data science and analytic storytelling is a one-of-a-kind program that combines the software and problem-solving skills of a data science degree with critical analytic, presentation and visualization skills representing the best of Truman’s liberal arts tradition,” Hyun-Joo Kim, chair of the statistics department, said.

Kim said as analytic storytellers, students will go beyond organizing and interpreting big sets of data. Students will be prepared to synthesize critical conclusions for the layperson, help visualize those conclusions for information consumers and adapt information to varied audiences. 

Kim said the master’s degree in data science and analytic storytelling was proposed to support a growing national and state need. The degree focuses on the study of data science and communication, including several courses that bring together material from statistics, computer science, communication, and art and design. 

“A successful graduate will be well-prepared for careers in a variety of industries in data science, data analytics and related fields,” Kim said. 

Kim predicts to have about 10 students per cohort to join the program in the spring 2021 semester. 

A number of current faculty will teach the program from the statistics department with support from computer science, communication and art. The school will also hire a new full-time faculty member with a data science background to support the program.

Karl Witt, chair of the counseling department, said the master’s in counseling will teach students how to work and interact with others, help connect them with resources and help them address concerns.

There is a need in the market for master’s programs in counseling. 

“For school counseling over the next 10 years, they are projecting double the national level market right now,” Witt said. “For clinical and mental health, it is almost 50% increase there.”

The counseling program is shooting for 24 students per cohort for both master’s programs in counseling for the next academic year.

The counseling master’s will require interaction. Witt said students would have a number of interactions via Zoom.