New Degree Programs Proposed at La. Colleges

Southern University in New Orleans.Southern University in New Orleans.

BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU, Southern University and other colleges are beginning to add new academic programs now that the state’s two-year moratorium on creating new degrees is over.

The Advocate reported (http://bit.ly/u6XQIO) the Louisiana Board of Regents has approved a new bachelor’s degree in athletic training at LSU. The regents also approved three new doctorate of nursing practice programs at Southern, the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and a joint degree offering with the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and Southeastern Louisiana University.

Other colleges statewide also are in the process of proposing new degree programs through proposals that, in some cases, have been in the works for several years.

The moratorium was in place because of state budget cuts to colleges, although more upcoming budgetary axing is anticipated.

State Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell said some new programs are needed, but he insisted the regents must be careful not to allow much program duplication and the “mission creep” of regional colleges attempting to offer more than what they should.

The LSU degree in athletic training is an expansion on LSU’s existing athletic training concentration within the bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, said Jeannine Kahn, Regents assistant commissioner for academic affairs.

The concentration alone already enrolls 113 students, Kahn said, and is expected to expand to at least 130 students as a full degree. LSU intends to offer the sports trainer degree without needing much more funding, she said, because the faculty and resources are already in place.

“This is considered to be a very reasonable request,” Kahn said.

As for the doctorates in nursing practice, Regents Associate Commissioner for Academic Affairs Karen Denby said the degrees are part of a new national trend in jobs that takes nursing research and develops the data into new practices within the industry.

“It’s more focused on translating academic research to practical care,” Denby said.

The Southern degree will be a “hybrid” of online and in-class learning, while the UL-Lafayette and Southeastern degree will have an online focus and the LSU version will be mostly classroom and clinical work, Denby said.

Loyola University in New Orleans has the only such nursing practice degree in the state.

While three new degree programs in the same field may seem like duplication, Purcell said the health-care industry has a lot of workforce demands.

“There are certain programs by their nature that you need to deliver throughout the state,” he said.