When Coker College was first founded in 1908, the student body was comprised of just 35 individuals, with only six undergraduate courses of study available. As the campus population grew, so did the number of degree programs. Today, the college offers over 40 options for undergraduate areas of study—and in the past few years, we have accomplished a milestone achievement: Coker now offers a selection of graduate degrees.
The college’s first master’s program, a master of science (M.S.) in college athletic administration, was added to the academic catalog in 2012. Since then, 122 students have graduated from the 100% online program. Alumni have gone on to have careers in sports communication, coaching, scouting, sports facilities management, and more.
“[It] really helped me become a better professional.”
Coker’s own head men’s basketball coach, Aric Samuel, graduated from the program in 2017. “Getting my master’s in college athletic administration made me a more qualified candidate to coach on a college level,” says Coach Samuel. “[It] really helped me become a better professional.”
And it was this commitment to developing better professionals that drove the college forward, leading to the addition of other graduate degree offerings, including the M.Ed. in literacy studies, M.Ed. in curriculum & instructional technology, M.S. in criminal & social justice policy (originally named the M.S. in applied criminology), and most recently, the M.S. in management & leadership.
“A graduate degree provides more opportunities to hone in on your skills and build more experience,” says Lacey Rice-Serafin, director of graduate admissions at Coker. “Employers value the problem solving, critical thinking, and technical skills that graduate-level education provides. I've personally heard from employers that it immediately stands out if an applicant is applying with a graduate degree. It translates that they are usually self-disciplined and driven, to have put in the time and effort to further their education.”
“A graduate degree provides more opportunities to hone in on your skills and build more experience,”
Coker’s graduate programs are designed with the full-time employee in mind, allowing flexible scheduling to accommodate students’ existing commitments and focusing on practical lessons that can be used in both their current and future roles.
Quinetta Buterbaugh, a current student in the M.S. in management & leadership program and president of the Hartsville Chamber of Commerce, has already found her graduate coursework applicable to her day job at the Chamber. “It’s been really, really great to just integrate everything that I’m doing at work while I’m learning about leadership and management through college,” she says.
The online learning platform utilized in Coker’s master’s programs is another key factor in student success. With online classes, students from across the region—and across the country—are able to interact and engage with their coursework. They can study on their own time, without having to worry about commuting to campus or attending classes that may conflict with their work hours.
“All of Coker's graduate programs are online or have online components, and this is the future of higher education."
“All of Coker's graduate programs are online or have online components, and this is the future of higher education,” explains Lacey Rice-Serafin. “Online study takes advantage of interactive, collaborative technologies, and is more accessible for those who want to further their education, but for whom coming to campus isn't a realistic option. Our mission as an institution is to make education accessible for all learners, and by offering graduate programs online, we are doing just that.”
“Enrolling in an all-online program for my master’s degree has been a really awesome decision,” says Quinetta. “I’m so glad that I made it.”
For more information, please visit coker.edu/masters or email firstname.lastname@example.org.