Ball State’s Graduate School is the University’s advocate for education beyond the baccalaureate. It sets policies and procedures to regulate graduate curricula, funds assistantships and fellowships, and works with the academic colleges to set the agenda.

Ball State first started offering courses for graduate credit in 1932. The Graduate School was established in 1968, three years after the institution became a university. Alumni who earn advanced degrees from Ball State include entrepreneurs, business leaders, nurses, dieticians, speech pathologists, architects, urban planners, teachers who specialize in autism, school administrators, high-tech storytellers, musicians, artists, writers, and researchers, to name just a few.

Graduate School Dean Adam R. Beach sat down with Ball State Magazine to discuss the proud past and bright future of graduate studies at Ball State.

Which of the Graduate School’s accomplishments are you most proud of?

For almost 90 years, graduate programs have helped Ball State students fulfill their dreams, achieve their goals, lead meaningful lives, and improve their communities economically, socially, and culturally throughout Indiana and beyond. Today, we have a strong reputation in education, the health professions, and business, as our national rankings demonstrate.

Dr. Jonathan Kirkwood

Enrolled in Ball State’s top-rated MBA online program, Jonathan Kirkwood is among thousands of graduate students each semester who pursue Ball State online degrees. A full-time doctor at St. Vincent Evansville, Kirkwood has also launched his own business.

As society and technology evolve, Ball State reaches students where they are. Our online programs provide working professionals with the access to an excellent education when they need it. These distance education programs have driven a large majority of our growth. Last fall, we had a record enrollment of 5,724 graduate students; about 4,400 of them pursue their studies online.

What initiatives are you most looking forward to?

According to “Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020,” a report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 65 percent of jobs in 2020 will require education beyond high school. Of those occupations, about one in six will require a master’s degree or higher.

At Ball State, we’re doing our part. As new issues arise, we are launching new programs. This spring, the on-campus master’s program in information and communication sciences is also available online. Next fall, students will start the new master’s in social work program to contend with the opioid epidemic in rural areas.

We continue to look for opportunities to meet the needs of the state of Indiana and working professionals who require advanced degrees. Our University’s strategic plan, Destination 2040: Our Flight Path, calls for building on our solid foundation to expand the reach and impact of our graduate programs. Our University will be known for its agile response to needs in the workforce and for anticipating those needs.

What are facets of the Graduate School people should know?

We’re student centered. On campus and online, students receive personal attention from professors who are experts in their fields and committed to teaching. On campus, our graduate students play a vital role through their outstanding work. They conduct research in our labs and assist faculty with their projects. They support our athletes, and they tutor undergraduates, among other responsibilities.

How are graduate students encouraged to live the Beneficence Pledge?

As Ball State enters its next century, one thing will remain constant: our graduate students, faculty, and staff live the values articulated in our University’s Beneficence Pledge: excellence, innovation, courage, integrity, inclusiveness, social responsibility, and gratitude.

Adam Beach

In addition to leading the Graduate School, Adam Beach teaches English courses to both graduate and undergraduate students.

A graduate education is all about excellence. Our students strive to take the next step in their fields and advance to another level. As our students take part in cutting-edge research and discover new knowledge, they do so with integrity. They act in a socially responsible way as they help others on campus. They learn about inclusion and working with people whose backgrounds are different from their own.

How do graduate studies empower students?

It’s all about access — how to give people the access they need at the time they need it. As I mentioned earlier, we offer graduate students options to earn their degree on-campus or online, full-time or part-time. Students who might want more education but aren’t certain about committing to a degree program can earn a certificate that can be applied to a master’s.

Graduates with advanced degrees do better economically and have more fulfilling careers. It’s a challenge and requires discipline. There are no shortcuts. When you come through that challenge, the sense of accomplishment is like none other.

What would you like to highlight for the Centennial?

Our alumni have found their investment of time and resources has advanced their careers and provided opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. Yet the benefits of a graduate education extend beyond the individual. Ball State’s graduate programs address society’s most pressing needs, help meet the demand for skilled professionals, and enhance our quality of life through the arts and sciences.

As Ball State celebrates its Centennial, I am proud of the role graduate studies have played in the University’s past, and I am optimistic about our bright future.