Mars Hill University Adds Two New Degrees and a Certificate Program

Mars Hill University’s third graduate degree is one of three new programs approved by the university’s board of trustees at its meeting on May 12, 2017. The master of arts in criminal justice (MACJ) joins the institution’s other master’s level degree offerings: the master of education in elementary education and the master of management. Trustees also gave the go-ahead to a new bachelor of fine arts (BFA) degree and a certificate in community engagement.

Barbara Sims, chair of the department of criminal justice, says, “This new graduate program is intended to serve individuals interested in pursuing graduate education in the field of criminal justice either to advance their careers, or to give them an opportunity to begin work in the field in something other than an entry level position.” Sims says the university worked with community partners and students currently enrolled in the undergraduate criminal justice program as part of its research to determine whether there was enough demand in the region for the MACJ. Meredith Doster, dean of Mars Hill’s Adult and Graduate Studies program, says the new master’s degree is a good fit, not just for the university, but also for the community: “In addition to its curricular strengths, the MACJ will create opportunity for the greater Mars Hill community to engage in sustained dialogue about criminal justice in the United States. A degree program that will train the next generation of criminal justice practitioners, the MACJ is poised to transform its students and the communities they serve.” Pending approval from the university’s regional accrediting body, the MACJ will launch in spring 2018.

The new BFA in art will provide a solid foundation for students who wish to pursue a career or graduate study in art. Students will be able to pursue concentrations in ceramics/sculpture or graphic design/photography. Given Mars Hill’s commitment to the culture and heritage of the region, faculty in the art department are excited about the opportunity for the new degree to enhance the university’s connections to the arts and crafts tradition of Southern Appalachia, as well as to the professional arts community in Western North Carolina.

The certificate in community engagement will help undergraduate students develop and demonstrate their potential for success in non-profit, governmental, or social enterprise careers. It will be coordinated through Mars Hill University’s Center for Community Engagement, which helps promote student learning, responsible citizenship, character development, and connection to the world of work. Center leaders expect the certificate program to increase the number of students who have the opportunity to deepen their experience with community engagement while enrolled at Mars Hill.