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Grad Studies celebrates 20 years

October 30, 2019

Dakota State University is celebrating 20 years of Graduate Studies this fall.

In the fall of 1999, DSU began offering a Master of Science in Information Systems, quickly followed by a Master of Science in Educational Technology, according to Dr. Mark Hawkes, dean of graduate studies, professor of instructional technology, and Center for Teaching and Learning director.

Over the years that has grown to 10 graduate programs and five graduate certificates.

 “Many of our programs are nationally recognized as innovative leaders,” Hawkes said. “We have students across the country and around the world studying with us.”

Dakota State has worked to grow its graduate programs, particularly in the domain of DSU’s designated specialties – computer and information sciences, Hawkes said.

Dakota State has a yield rate of 97 percent, which means that 97 percent of students accepted to our graduate programs enroll at DSU.

The exceptional faculty of Dakota State are an important part of the graduate programs.

Dr. Jack Walters, coordinator of Dakota State’s MBA program, has been involved with the MBA since the program was developed and first offered at the University Center in Sioux Falls (now the Community College for Sioux Falls). Over the years, DSU faculty have adjusted the program to best fit student needs, from offering it online to allowing students to take 1-3 courses a semester.

A unique aspect of Dakota State’s MBA program is that it is designed so students without an undergraduate business education can still enroll in the program, according to Walters.  A Colorado-based company helps students get their foundational knowledge, in addition to two overview foundation courses at DSU for students who come into the program without an undergraduate business education.

“We’ve had real development and real curriculum that is adapting to the needs of the market place and students,” Walters said.

Dr. Omar El-Gayar, a graduate faculty member and former dean of graduate studies, assisted in implementing a hybrid delivery mode in which MSIS students learn through in-class time, remote interactive audio/video connections, and internet connections.  

Today’s courses are available online, enabling students to enroll from all over the country and world. Students who have graduated from DSU doctoral programs are now working as faculty at colleges in Indiana, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

“When you see your students assuming these kinds of jobs it speaks volumes,” El-Gayar said. “It affirms the quality and credibility of the work that we’ve done.”

Dr. Ashley Podhradsky attended Dakota State for her undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees, and later returned as a graduate faculty member.

Podhradsky spent time working at Drexel University in Philadelphia before returning to Dakota State, where she is now associate dean of The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences and associate professor of information assurance and forensics.

The student focus drew Podhradsky back to Dakota State. “We truly are an institution who puts students first. It’s a philosophy I share and the reason I am here.”

Podhradsky has seen the growth of the graduate program first hand, taking classes with 7 to 10 classmates while she was in school, she now teaches graduate courses with 50 students.

“It’s really exciting to see the demand for our graduate programs,” she said. “Every time we review applicants it just makes me so proud to see the quality continuing to rise every single year.”