Saint Leo Introduces New, Transformed Degree Programs
The university now is offering bachelor’s degrees in music and computational math as well as a master’s in accounting-STEM and a doctorate in theology
The 2023-2024 academic year began with Hurricane Idalia delaying the start of some fall classes. While Saint Leo University was able to hold classes on August 28 along with some of the traditional first-day-of-school and Week of Welcome events at University Campus, classes were canceled for a few days.
But now, the university is ready to introduce some new and transformed degree programs.
“Saint Leo always is looking to develop new programs to meet the demands of students and employers, and we work closely with businesses, advisory councils, and partner organizations and agencies so that we get timely and valuable input to help format programs,” said Dr. Susan Kinsella, interim vice president of Academic Affairs. “This in turn helps us to better prepare our graduates.
“This year, we’ve added a STEM focus to the master’s degree in accounting,” Kinsella continued. “This designation will help students in this program learn to make data-driven decisions. We’ve also moved to a Bachelor of Science in computational mathematics from a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics, which aligns that program with our goal of increasing STEM skills and knowledge.”
Some highlights and additions to the academic program include:
This new program will help students meet the 150-hour credit hour requirement to become a CPA (certified public accountant) when combined with the Bachelor of Science in accounting. The new degree program also features integrated studies in data analytics and aligns with the CPA Evolution curriculum recently launched by the Financial Accounting Standards Board® (FASB) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).
The STEM designation will allow international students to extend their Optional Practical Training (OPT) from one to three years in the United States.
“This expanded training period will enable students to expand their learning opportunities through work experience in the U.S.,” noted Dr. Passard Dean, interim dean of the Tapia College of Business.
Previously, Saint Leo offered a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics. The major was first offered in 2005, and was built as a traditional mathematics program, said Dr. Monika Kiss, chair of the Mathematics Department. “We were enrolling students who were interested in becoming mathematics educators as well as students who were interested in graduate work in mathematics or related fields,” Kiss said. With changes in technology fields and the career prospects in the STEM areas, Saint Leo revised the program to be more marketable for today’s students and to meet employers’ requirements.
“The need for professionals who can solve problems in various industries is growing,” Kiss said. “Our new Bachelor of Science in computational mathematics degree focuses on allowing students the opportunity to not only learn the traditional theories of the core mathematics courses, but also spend more time learning how to work with data analysis,” Kiss said. “Students will learn to use a variety of computer programming languages — as well as other technology tools — to assess and deliver answers to problems that may arise in many areas of industry including health care, sports, and business. Students who love to solve problems, who are interested in engaging with technology tools to identify solutions to various problems, and those who like a challenge will have many great opportunities for careers in the future.”
For many years, Saint Leo University has offered undergraduate and graduate degrees in religion and theology. Now, the university’s newest degree offering is the Doctor of Theology in applied theology.
“Saint Leo’s new Doctor of Theology degree focuses on applied theology so not only does it include academic research, but it also offers practical knowledge and skills for those who serve in various ministries and organizations within the Church and the wider community. It builds on our successful Master of Arts in theology program.”
Saint Leo’s goal was to “develop a program that would match the skills of our faculty, cater to our students’ needs, and serve the wider church community,” said Dr. Stephen Okey, acting director of the Doctor of Theology program.
This degree is designed for those already engaged in careers in ministry, education, publishing, and the nonprofit sector. It’s a rigorous scholarly degree for those engaged in ministry or education within the American Catholic Church and other ecclesial contexts. The ThD program is offered online with a one-week residency at University Campus.
“While we want students to come into the program with a strong foundation in academic research, we want the curriculum to have a more practical focus,” Okey said. “This means preparing students to implement what they learn in the program into their lives, communities, and the church. Unlike a PhD program, the program is not designed to develop students who will go into tenure-track university jobs.”
The program is grounded in Catholic theology, but “it has an ecumenical openness built into it,” he added.
While the program is predominantly online, students will be expected to attend two in-person residencies in July held at University Campus in St. Leo, FL. Each will consist of three or four days. The meetings and discussions will be specifically tied to the courses the students are taking that summer.
Although Saint Leo has offered music as a minor, now the university is offering a Bachelor of Arts in music degree. This program is flexible enough to be designed according to a student’s career aspirations.
Saint Leo’s bachelor’s in music offers students practical training in various areas of the music industry including music production and technology; sound support for live performances; music education; worship music; and community music, which includes managing retail music stores, managing music venues and performers, directing community ensembles, and managing private music studios.
The degree requires students to participate in internships to experience different aspects of the professional music world, and they will build an electronic portfolio or website as part of their capstone requirement for the degree.
“Saint Leo is blessed to have such talented faculty, who will share their knowledge and love of music with our undergraduates,” Kinsella said. “Our music students will enjoy a well-rounded curriculum while exploring the arts and preparing for a variety of careers including arts management, music technology and sound support, teaching, and leading music in worship and other community venues.”
View and listen to examples of our music faculty performing on this playlist: Saint Leo Voice, Piano and Instrumental Instructor Videos - YouTube.
Associate Degrees at Education Centers
Saint Leo now is offering a special program for students interested in pursuing associate degrees at the Center for Adult Learning at University Campus, as well as the Key West (FL), Tampa (FL), and Savannah (GA) education centers, and the MacDill Education Office at MacDill Air Force Base. The New Horizons Discount offers a significant savings for students who enroll in an associate degree program in business administration, criminal justice, cybersecurity, or liberal arts, making education more affordable and accessible.
Other Academic Updates
● Saint Leo’s inaugural class of nursing students will start their junior year in their core nursing program classes and will begin their hands-on learning in dedicated space in the Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library until renovations are completed on the second floor of Benedictine Hall where there will be innovative lab spaces, classrooms, and simulated-learning areas.
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