Union College Will Launch Three New Graduate Programs

They include Masters of Public Health, Science in Leadership, and Occupational Therapy.

Ryan Teller, for Mid-America Union Conference Outlook, and Adventist Review
Union College Will Launch Three New Graduate Programs
Union College nursing students participate in a recent mission trip to Peru. [Photo: Union College]

Union College, a Seventh-day Adventist institution in Lincoln, Nebraska, United States, is significantly expanding the college’s graduate offerings with the addition of three new master’s degrees. Two of the new degrees, a Master of Public Health (MPH) and a Master of Science in Leadership, will begin in August, while the Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) program will launch in 2024.

“These new degrees signal a broadening of Union College’s scope as we continually seek to add value for our current students and anyone seeking additional higher education to advance their careers,” Union College president Vinita Sauder said. “The programs build on Union’s strengths and continue our legacy of training top leaders in health care, the non-profit sector, and many other fields.”

Master of Public Health

An ideal next step for many seeking a career in health care, the Master of Public Health will train students to identify and solve health challenges facing communities. This fast-growing field overlaps a variety of industries with jobs in hospitals, non-profits, corporations, government agencies, and schools.

Normally a two-year program for someone with an undergraduate degree, the MPH can be combined with Union’s existing Biomedical Science or International Rescue and Relief undergraduate majors. That means completing two degrees in just five years — three as undergraduates and two as graduate students. The degree may also be combined with Union’s Master of Physician Assistant Studies and completed in a total of four years, one year faster than taking the programs separately.

“I would recommend a master’s in public health to anyone who is driven to reduce suffering at a community or population level,” said Ben Herzel, a Union College graduate who is completing a residency in emergency medicine at Loma Linda University Medical Center. “In the emergency room, I can only address the needs of one single patient at a time. But the essence of public health is to focus on groups rather than individuals — which is where real change can happen.”

According to Herzel, “the nature of that change can look like many things: promoting preventative healthcare, mitigating disease epidemics, training health care workers, improving the efficiency of testing and treatment strategies, and so much more.”

Master of Science in Leadership

A close cousin to the MBA, the Master of Science in Leadership will focus on understanding human behavior, communicating effectively, managing complex systems, and creatively solving big problems. The degree builds on Union College’s undergraduate leadership minor, which, for the last 20 years, has allowed any Union student to add credentials focused on creative and effective leadership.

This one-year master’s degree program (including a summer trimester) pairs well with most undergraduate majors and provides a next step for anyone who wants to advance their career into management. The program is available in person or in an online synchronous format.

“A master’s degree is very important as you advance your career, especially if you want to move into leadership,” Amanda Maggard, Union College graduate and president and CEO of AdventHealth Zephyrhills and AdventHealth Dade City hospitals, said. “This master’s in leadership provides a broad base of learning. Regardless of your industry, I believe it’s a benchmark you need to have if you’re going to seek a leadership role.”

Master of Occupational Therapy

This unique bridge program allows occupational therapy assistants to complete a master’s degree and practice as an occupational therapist. The new master’s will pair perfectly with Union’s Occupational Therapy Assistant Program and will allow students to complete both an associate and a master’s degree in a total of four years.

The MOT program will enroll its first class in Fall 2024. Union will open the application within the next calendar year. Courses will be offered online with clinicals conducted in person.

Expanding Graduate Programs

These three programs will greatly expand Union’s graduate offerings. Since 2008, the Master of Physician Assistant Studies has been the college’s lone master’s degree. The 33-month program currently graduates approximately 30 students per year into a field consistently ranked one of the best careers by Forbes magazine and other publications.

“Union College professors will bring the same rigorous instruction paired with the quality personal attention to each student that Union is known for,” Sauder said. “For students who value an institution dedicated to their success and with extensive experience in healthcare and leadership education, Union College is the perfect fit.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Mid-America Union Conference news site.

Ryan Teller, for Mid-America Union Conference Outlook, and Adventist Review