Distance Leanring

Army Leadership Instructors to Earn Penn State Online Degrees in Education

This may be the only master's degree program that includes a stipulation that candidates be able to pass a physical fitness test. The United States Army wants to transform the teaching capabilities of faculty who instruct noncommissioned officers at its U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. So it's sending 20 sergeants major back to school in an online program to obtain master's degrees in education from Penn State. Among the requirements for gaining entry, applicants must be U.S. citizens, possess a bachelor's degree or higher with a grade point average of at least 3.0; and must be able to pass the Army's physical fitness test.

Recipients of academy fellowships will begin online courses in August through Penn's World Campus. They'll finish their degrees in a year and commit to an additional three years' service in the Army to teach the academy's Sergeants Major Course in leadership. They'll be stationed as full-time students at the academy at Fort Bliss, TX, where they'll undergo an on-site orientation at the start of each semester.

The master of education in adult education, which this cohort will be attending, requires 33 credit hours. It includes courses in distance and continuing education, program planning, research and evaluation of adult learners and course design and development.

"Thirteen years of conflict have demonstrated that the future battle space will continue to grow in complexity and bring amplified intellectual changes, and therefore, an educated force of leaders and senior leaders is required," said Command Sgt. Major Dennis Defreese, in a prepared statement. "The partnership with Penn State...is key in attracting the best quality sergeants major to the program and ultimately becoming instructors in the sergeants major course."

Current guidelines, he noted, don't include educational requirements for sergeant major instructors at USASMA, so it's "hit or miss" on the level of instruction. Though educational requirements aren't necessary, most sergeants major do have a significant amount of college by the time they've graduated from the academy, as well as leadership experience.

The World Campus courses will be taught online by faculty from the Penn State College of Education. Students in the special program will have access to the university's student support services and advising.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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