Meet the Dean: Carol Stuckey, School of Professional Studies
As dean of the School of Professional Studies, Carol Stuckey is helping MCPHS bring its vast education offerings to adult learners and working professionals. Now, individuals interested in changing jobs, advancing their careers, or adopting new skillsets can pursue their academic goals in a format that fits their busy schedules.
“This is a population that often needs more flexibility in terms of where and when they study in comparison to full-time, traditional degree programs,” says Dean Stuckey. “The school will provide pathways for these current and aspiring healthcare professionals to earn the credentials they need to begin or advance their healthcare careers.”
Founded in late 2018, the School of Professional Studies currently offers numerous routes for professionals to continue their education, including prerequisite and non-degree courses, advanced certificates, and micro-credentialing programs. Though these offerings fulfill unique educational needs, they share several important characteristics: flexibility, affordability, and easy accessibility.
“With technology constantly changing the way we work, employees will find themselves needing to return to school more frequently and for shorter bursts of education and training over the course of their long careers,” says Dean Stuckey. “With programs offered in person and online in varying lengths and formats, the School can be a life-long learning resource for healthcare professionals as their educational needs change every few years.”
We sat down with Dean Stuckey to learn more about the School of Professional Studies’ mission, as well as her vision for its future.
How does this differ from all the other programs at MCPHS—in other words, what sets this program apart and makes it important for the university to develop?
The School of Professional Studies is primarily geared toward “nontraditional students,” typically older students who may have delayed college or who are working while attending school on a part-time basis. With the cost of education on the rise, at the national level, we’ve seen the number of nontraditional students increase at a much faster rate than the number of traditional, full-time students entering college directly from high school. Part-time adult students who are balancing school with other commitments like family and work often need different support structures than their full-time student counterparts. In establishing this new school, MCPHS takes an important step in building programs and support services for this audience.
We will also be an important resource for employers who need to enhance the skills of their current employees, either individually or with a cohort-based approach. We will be able to offer corporate programs for certificates and degrees, as well as management training and executive education.
Which steps do you see as “first” steps, and which kinds of programs and ideas will probably take longer to implement?
Central to the success of the school is developing close relationships with area employers. This will enable us to develop programs that will be beneficial to their employees as well as to shape new or existing programs to reflect the current skills needed in the marketplace.
Our early focus is on developing online, self-paced prerequisite courses to enable students who are missing required courses to start degree programs. The online and self-paced nature of the courses will enable students to study while continuing to work or balance other priorities.
As time goes on, we will continue to develop certificates and micro-credentials that may stack toward degrees, certifications for various health-related occupations, and management and executive training. Recently, we were given the approval to offer credit towards the MBA in Healthcare Management for students who successfully complete MIT’s MicroMasters in statistics and data science. The MicroMasters is fairly low-cost and low-risk for the student and, if successfully completed, translates into 12 graduate credits. This is a great example of how an alternative credential can be affordable and stack towards a degree, providing knowledge to the student in an area that is of high demand (data science) for employers. It’s truly a win-win for everyone involved.
What are you looking forward to the most about the first few years of the new school’s existence?
Already, I’ve seen tremendous enthusiasm from faculty and staff for this new initiative and for serving this important audience of working professionals. I look forward to launching a number of prerequisite courses that we believe will attract students to MCPHS who might not otherwise have known about us or who might not have been able to enroll in a full-time program. Delivering self-paced courses, particularly in the physical and life sciences, is something not a lot of other universities are doing. We’ll also have the opportunity to deliver those courses in varying formats on campus as well in the evenings and on weekends. We will learn a lot as we go and continuously refine and improve over time so that we do the best job possible to help part-time students meet their academic and career goals.
Learn more about the MCPHS School of Professional Studies.