The Middlebury Institute has launched its third online graduate degree: the online Master of Arts in International Education Management (IEM), an asynchronous online version of the Institute’s in-person MA program designed for maximum flexibility. Applications are now open, and the first students will start pursuing their degrees in fall 2022.
“We have reimagined the Institute’s IEM degree program to reflect the wave of change we have all witnessed over the past two years,” says IEM Program Chair David Wick. “First a global pandemic halted international student mobility and brought increased attention to climate impacts of travel-based global learning. Then the Black Lives Matter movement raised important questions about international education’s role in social justice. These considerations, which are driving professional practices in the field, have furthered our desire to be more inclusive and responsive to current social issues.”
Beginning this fall, students will be able to complete the IEM degree fully online, in person, or with a mix of these two modalities. Standard fall and spring semester course offerings will be supplemented with January term and summer opportunities, and students will be able to progress through the program at their chosen pace, part time or full time.
The move to a full range of in-person, online, and mixed options is expected to have a variety of advantages for students. “One of the benefits of moving all classes online for 18 months during the pandemic is that it broadened our student community,” notes Professor Katherine Punteney, the program’s founding chair, who worked with IEM faculty colleagues to help craft the reimagined program. “We recognized that building that flexibility into the program going forward would allow us to reach students who are unable to enroll full time or move to Monterey. We are excited to be able to offer the online IEM program to working professionals, including those working internationally.”
The broadening of the program’s reach via technology was documented by IEM Career and Academic Advisor Grace O’Dell: “Our shift to online instruction during the pandemic resulted in increased diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, age, gender and identity, abilities, location, family structure, and professional background of our student cohort.” Meanwhile, world events continue to motivate increased interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), with IEM program faculty citing “an interest in discussing DEI careers” as the most frequent reason they are contacted by prospective students. “Our students—prospective, admitted, and enrolled—want to be part of this social change,” says Wick.
The increased focus on hybrid and online learning also creates opportunities to enhance the reach of the classroom itself. “In addition to increasing the diversity of our student population, this new approach allows us to partner more broadly and to bring in educators and professionals who would not have been available to teach in Monterey,” notes Wick, adding that “we are committed to integrating theory, research, and professional practice through applied projects and mentorship from working professionals.”
Addition of Remote Degree Option to Require Adaptations
Faculty realize this new approach will require additional adaptations. “Past IEM cohorts have been very strong and collaborative, and we know that it will require effort to create and sustain vibrant learning communities,” says Punteney, citing possibilities including creating interactive, collaborative asynchronous activities, optional synchronous class sessions, team projects, and online social events, including opportunities for networking with program alumni working globally.
Students enrolled in the 48-credit online program will have access to all the same personalized career and advising resources as students in the on-site programs, including access to workshops and training sessions. Most students will earn their degrees in 18 months to three years.
In response to significant demand for a remote option, the Middlebury Institute recently launched a new online Master of Arts in TESOL program that allows students to complete their master’s degrees in two years without having to relocate to Monterey.