Illinois State University is the only public institution in the state to offer an undergraduate program in business education. Beginning next fall, Redbird graduate students can pursue a master’s degree in the field as well.
“The program will be one of a few across the country,” said Tamra Davis, associate professor of marketing. “Students will gain content knowledge in a variety of areas, such as personal finance, management, marketing, computer technologies, programming, and accounting.”
The new degree program, which is designed to train professional business and marketing teachers, originally was proposed about five years ago, but its development was postponed due to impending changes to state-mandated tests for educators.
“It took us about two years to work through the process of updating our curriculum to meet the new assessments,” Davis said. “About three years ago, we picked up the proposal process for the masters of business education. During that time, all of the other dedicated business education programs in the state began to close. Today, ISU is home to the only dedicated business education teacher education preparation major (in Illinois). Other institutions allow students to graduate with a business education emphasis within either a secondary education degree or a career and technical degree. ISU students graduate with a business degree from the College of Business.”
She then described how the addition of the master’s degree curriculum will help Illinois State to continue to lead the way in preparing business educators for working at both the K-12 classroom and college level.
“The graduate program will allow the current business teachers to update and enhance their skills in business education and teaching methodologies,” she said. “Another market is for those who hold a teaching certificate in another content area. These teachers can easily add business as another teaching field, helping to fill the huge gap (between) open business teaching positions and the number of business teachers in the state.”
Davis also predicted the master’s degree program will appeal to corporate employees who want to pass on their knowledge of the business world to a new generation by teaching at a community college or in entry-level courses offered during a student’s first two years at a university.
Flexibility is a key component in the design of the masters of business education framework.
“Considerable coursework can be taken either through the MBA program or through the College of Education depending upon the needs of the individual student. All of the business education courses and education courses will be offered online,” Davis said. “Students who want to take coursework through the MBA program will have access to evening and weekend face-to-face classes.”
As plans for the degree coursework are finalized, Davis is particularly looking forward to setting up networking opportunities for the graduate students to meet with current business educators.
“I am excited to bring working professionals into the classroom where they can share their skills and expertise with tomorrow’s professionals. Teachers, who have worked within their field, bring a unique set of experiences to the classroom,” she said.
The new program is expected to launch in the fall of 2019, while applications for admission will be accepted in the coming spring semester.