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The Graduate School Celebrates 25 Years of Programs


The year 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of graduate programs offered continuously at Otterbein University. In the early years, the University offered church-related and theology graduate programs, including a doctorate in 1883. Those early graduate programs continued until 1912 when Otterbein refocused its offerings to only bachelor’s degrees and continued for more than 50 years as an undergraduate-only institution.

In 1978, as the need for advanced education arose, Otterbein invited Ashland University to offer education programs on campus. More than 100 Ohio teachers earned a master’s degree from Ashland on the Otterbein campus. In 1982, Otterbein invited the University of Dayton to offer an MBA on Otterbein’s campus.

Otterbein’s own graduate programs began in the late 1980s when Otterbein explored offering its own master’s degrees in education.

The Master of Arts in Education and the Master of Arts in Teaching formally began in 1988. Nursing graduate degrees began in 1993. Demand grew for business graduate degrees, so Otterbein developed its own MBA program in 1997. Allied Health and Educational Mathematics degrees were added in 2011.

Dr. Barbara Schaffner, Dean of The Graduate School and the School of Professional Studies, explains why the programs have consistently grown over the years. “Dedicated, hardworking people come to Otterbein for graduate school. Students come to Otterbein for the quality of our programs and they know that what they learn will help them advance in their careers.” More than 1,760 individuals have earned graduate degrees from Otterbein in the past 25 years. Several thousand other students take a graduate course periodically for professional development.

Alumni believe an Otterbein graduate education is a satisfying experience and worthwhile investment. A recent survey of students who graduated in the past five years showed that more than 86 percent of the 107 respondents would recommend Otterbein to anyone seeking graduate education. These alumni have jobs (85 percent) and they are working in their chosen fields (92.6 percent). Nearly one third (31.5 percent) have been promoted since earning their degrees.

Adds Schaffner, “Many of our students are working full-time while managing a family, a job, and their academic careers. That makes them very focused on their coursework and very determined to do the best they can, both in and out of school. The average GPA of our students is 3.75.”

Today, The Graduate School offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice and master’s degrees in allied health, business, education, educational mathematics, and nursing. More than 730 students are enrolled in a year with a typical term enrollment of about 450 students. Nursing is the largest program followed by education, business, allied health and educational mathematics.

What’s the future look like for graduate programs? The vision statement of The Graduate School is: "Otterbein University's Graduate School creates engaged and transformed leaders who shape tomorrow."

Dr. Schaffner emphasized, “We are always scanning the horizon for the next new innovative program to offer. We are committed to the quality of our programs. New changes in our MBA will appear later this year. Otterbein is definitely a graduate school to watch.”

For more information about Otterbein's graduate programs, call The Graduate School at (614) 823-3210, or e-mail grad@otterbein.edu. Visit the web: www.otterbein.edu/graduate.