During the 2014 summer semester, Florida Southern College will begin its first doctorate program: the doctorate in educational leadership.

The process to establish the program has been a long one that dates back several years.

“Our first information meeting [that] we conducted was in 2009,” Dr. Tracey Tedder, dean of the school of education, said.

The possible degree received enough interest for the school of education to begin working on a new curriculum.

“Our faculty worked diligently to analyze existing coursework, and then really cultivate a program here,” Tedder said. “As a result, we developed 12 courses that we think are really on the cutting edge of the current educational leadership issues.”

Existing coursework was not the only thing that was studied, though.The school also tried to figure out what was in demand locally. Tedder believes that many prospective students will come from the local area.

“We really wanted to find out what those folks were needing in those schools, and what they were looking for from a degree program,” Tedder said.

Current FSC students can consider the doctorate as an option for their future, planning out their academic careers if they wish to pursue their doctorate.

However, many of the students enrolling in the 2014 summer semester may have already begun their careers.

“We really just wanted to find out if there was interest from the community, because this kind of degree will attract individuals who are already practitioners,” Tedder said. “They’re already leading schools as principals, and assistant principals, and teachers out in the classroom.”

The program will require participants to contribute 60 hours of course work and a dissertation before completing the degree. Some courses will be offered in the summer when students are out of school,  giving current teachers an opportunity to work on their degree in a less stressful environment.

Other classes are offered online through the portal.

Dr. Steven Petrie, Ed.D. program coordinator, described it as a “blend” during an informational meeting on Sept. 19.

“I think that the blended model, respecting that there are those that want to do some of their coursework online, and also, providing opportunities to be in classes with other doctoral students and professors, to have that live interaction and learning from each other and from the professor…I tell you, I think that blend is really good,” Petrie said.

Tedder said that the degree will provide “greater insight” of problems that leadership and education might pose for students.

“Hopefully this will provide an opportunity for individuals to gather together, talk about those current issues, and hopefully come up with solutions,” Tedder said.

The program also aims to keep class sizes down.

“I think the other advantage is that we’re keeping the classes small, 12-15 [students],” Petrie said.

The new degree offers opportunities for students to further their education by both starting and ending their education at FSC.

“I think we’re on a whole new track at this point because now, an individual could come in with a bachelor’s degree and leave with their doctoral degree,” Tedder said. “That’s something that we’ve never been able to offer before.”

The program is currently accepting applications.