SACSCOC grants approval for University’s first doctoral program

Story Julie Gaynor
6 min read

MSU Texas reached another historic milestone in September when the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) granted approval for the University’s request to begin offering a doctoral degree in educational leadership in January 2021.

This marks the first doctoral offering at the University. MSU Texas President Suzanne Shipley praised the West College of Education and WCOE Dean Matthew Capps for this historic achievement.

“This is a significant accomplishment for Midwestern State University and especially for our dedicated faculty in the West College of Education. We are now able to provide our community of educators with a significant level of academic attainment. The pursuit of an advanced degree in education will enhance the abilities of teachers across our region while also maximizing the talents of MSU professors,” Shipley said. “I am grateful for the creativity and energy required of Dean Matthew Capps and the faculty of the West College of Education to achieve this historic advancement of our university’s role. We look forward to welcoming MSU’s first doctoral students in January 2021.”

Provost and Vice President James Johnston announced the intent to pursue approval of an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at the August 2019 Board of Regents meeting. “This is a historic moment for MSU Texas. The addition of terminal degrees aligns with the University’s current strategic plan and is consistent with our mission to provide our students with rigorous undergraduate and graduate education. Our ability to successfully navigate the approval process with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and SACSCOC in the midst of this pandemic is yet another example of the ‘can do’ spirit of this great University,” he said.

MSU’s new Ed.D. emphasizes PK-12 educational leadership. It specializes in public school administration, providing terminal degree opportunities for those who hold a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, instructional technology, adult and higher education, and education administration. Designed to prepare its students for executive leadership positions in education, the program will serve educational leaders within the North Texas (Region 9 Education Service Center) and partial adjoining educational service centers.

The implementation of this doctoral program will ensure that highly qualified individuals in the North and West Central Texas workforce areas are available and competitive for top leadership positions. Job market need projections for top educational leadership positions (2018–2028) indicate an increasing demand for high-quality education administration professionals across the nation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Selected Occupational Projections, the projected need for PK-12 education administrators will continue to increase through at least 2028.

“This is the culmination of many years of experience through the joint doctoral program at UNT over the last 25 years. We are well prepared and pleased to meet this need, especially for educators in our Region 9 area, which serves 37 school districts across 12 counties in North Texas. There are currently no comparable doctoral program available in this region,” said Capps. “We look forward to continuing to build upon the relationship we have with our area educators and want to thank the West Foundation for their support of this project along with many others in the college.”

The program will require 54 semester credit hours beyond the master’s degree, including dissertation. Students will also have the option to take an internship course for superintendent certification, which will require 57 hours beyond the master’s degree.

In addition to the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, MSU Texas continues to pursue approval for a doctoral program in radiologic sciences. If approved, the program will be the first of its kind in the United States. 

Capps earns Joyce Hardin Service award

Matthew Capps, Dean of the West College of Education, was honored with the Joyce Hardin Service Award from the Texas Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, Council of Deans of Education, during the general meeting Oct. 19.

Capps received the award for his work on state advisory

 committees, his influence on state policy and educator preparation, and representation of Texas at the national level. The award is presented annually for outstanding service to the TACTE and the education profession.

“It means a great deal to me that my colleagues selected me for this award,” Capps said. “I think it is a recognition of my effort to engage and question decisions and policies regarding educator preparation at the state and national level. Sometimes I think my voice falls on deaf ears with state and national agencies but, when the award was presented, a comment was made about how much I have influenced policies at both levels so, maybe that voice is having a larger impact than I realize.”

Hardin was the former Executive Director of the TACTE. Previously, she was the dean of the college of education at Lubbock Christian University.

Clinical Mental Health program accredited

Since 1955, Midwestern State University has offered the Master of Education in Counseling, now referred to as Clinical Mental Health, one of the oldest graduate programs on campus. For the first time in the program’s 65-year history, the degree is nationally accredited. The master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, offered through the Gordon T. & Ellen West College of Education, has met the accreditation requirements from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

Dr. Matthew Capps, Dean of the West College, said he could not overstate the importance of the accreditation. “Students in Texas can’t take the Licensed Professional Counselor licensing exam unless they’ve graduated from a CACREP-accredited institution, an important distinction for MSU graduates.” The accreditation covers the hybrid and fully online deliveries.

The CACREP board based the accreditation decision on an extensive review of self-study documents, the site visit team’s report, and the West College’s response to the site visit team’s report. The program received the maximum term given – accreditation through October 31, 2028.

Unique program for Early Childhood through 3rd-grade added

Education is an ever-changing field always adapting to the needs of young educators, and MSU Texas was approved earlier this year for a unique program for Early Childhood through a 3rd-grade certificate.

Dean Matthew Capps said it's a unique opportunity for MSU Texas because the program is delivered through a competency-based education (CBE) format, the only one of its kind in Texas. “It is one of the most significant academic years in the history of the West College of Education,” Capps said. He said the EC3 CBE certificate creates a new method for a person to become a teacher.

Competency-based education is an online format where students provide evidence of competency in knowledge and skills to earn course credit. Rather than moving through a traditional 15-week program where students engage with a faculty member, students in CBE programs move through with an instructional coach. If students can show competency in particular knowledge or skill at an 80% proficiency level, they earn credit without any other requirement. If an 80% proficiency level isn’t achieved, the instructional coach guides module learning until adequate progress is achieved. Also, the program at MSU qualifies for the Texas Affordable Baccalaureate program, which reduces the cost of the degree (approximately $15,000 for the last 60 hours) to about half of the normal tuition and fees. The program operates through open educational resources, which requires no textbooks.

“It allows a person to finish a teaching degree without quitting a job and at a significant cost reduction,” Capps said. “We also made a change to our other degrees that have been in law since 1985 and provided two new degree options that never existed before, both of which have tremendous potential for job opportunities.”