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Kennesaw State University to Offer New Master’s Degree in First-Year Studies

Kennesaw State University's master's degree in first-year studies is the first graduate degree program of its kind in Georgia and the United States.

Kennesaw State University is taking the next step in helping students make the transition to college by training the individuals who work with first-year college students through a new master’s degree in first-year studies.

Approved by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia last week, the program is the first graduate degree program of its kind in Georgia and the U.S.

“Student success is a hallmark of what we do at Kennesaw State,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ken Harmon in a press release. “The University has long been a leader in first-year programs, and this new degree solidifies our reputation as a forerunner in this field.” 

The new graduate program will provide participants with knowledge of the transitions that first-year students face and prepare them to design, manage and deliver curricular and co-curricular programs to help first-year students succeed.  

The fully online degree program will begin in Fall 2015 and will be administered by faculty in the Department of First-Year and Transition Studies in Kennesaw State’s University College. 

“This was a bold step on the part of the Board of Regents to establish a program that will be the first of its kind anywhere in the world,” said Ralph Rascati, dean of the University College, in a press release. “The program will focus on the transitions that first-year students face and will be delivered by faculty with specific expertise in this emerging discipline.”

First-Year Studies is focused on the unique transitions occurring in the first year or early college experience.  A growing body of research has shown that first-year programs have a demonstrated record of increasing student retention, progression and graduation rates while enhancing students’ connections to campus.

Graduates of Kennesaw State’s new program will be prepared to help USG and Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) institutions meet their goal of supporting the success of all students who enroll at higher education institutions in Georgia. 

With a growing national emphasis on college completion, graduates of the program will also be able to respond to similar needs at academic institutions across the U.S. 

This new Master of Science degree will encompass the theory and study of factors affecting the initial college experience, including foundations of students’ transitional experiences and research on various programs that promote a successful transition.

“It’s not often that you get to lead the way,” said Keisha Hoerrner, associate dean of the University College, in a press release. “This degree will help develop the next generation of faculty, staff and administrators who can continue to do good work with first-year students and expand the research on college transitions.”

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