The University of North Alabama has recently expanded its curriculum to include a Master of Arts degree program in history.
The history department began accepting students to participate in the new graduate program during the spring 2007 semester, with the full complement of courses beginning this fall.
"Given the rather rapid initiation in January 2007, the program is going well," said Dr. Evan Ward, assistant professor of history and director of the graduate program.
According to Ward, 15 students are currently enrolled in the program, and that number is expected to increase for the fall semester.
"It would be prudent to expect 15-20 new students each year," he says.
Dr. Daniel Heimmermann, the chair of the department of history and political science, had the original vision to create a graduate program in history at UNA.
"For the better part of two or three years, he did the appropriate exploratory work towards making the program a reality," Ward said.
Heimmermann and a few members of the faculty then created a proposal for the university and the Alabama Council on Higher Education. The proposal was accepted during the fall of 2006.
"The program was proposed to meet a long-standing local demand for an advanced degree in history," Heimmermann said.
He says that teachers, in particular, want to increase their knowledge of history, and the graduate degree will also help them meet the standard set by the No Child Left Behind Act.
According to Heimmermann, the faculty in the history department are "excited about the opportunity to instruct exclusively graduate-level courses."
Ward says that all of the professors who will be teaching courses for the graduate program are involved in meaningful historical scholarship and are respected regionally, nationally and internationally.
"The quality of instruction rivals any institution," he says.
Ward says that the graduate program is set apart because many of the students are public school teachers and those desiring to teach at the college level who wish to improve their teaching content, as well as advance professionally.