Employment growth in careers related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), underscores the importance of a new degree collaboration between Kentucky State University and the University of Louisville. The initiative allows KSU undergraduates majoring in math to study seven semesters (3.5 years) at KSU, and three semesters (1.5 years) at UofL, earning a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science (BA/BS) in math at KSU and a master of science (MS) in biostatistics from UofL. Students benefit by completing six years of study in five years.
“We continue to see a growing demand for a more highly educated workforce throughout the Commonwealth,” said UofL’s Interim President Greg Postel, M.D. “This collaborative effort will expose underrepresented groups to graduate education in a degree that will lead to high-demand, high-paying jobs and help Kentucky continue to move forward in an ever more competitive economy.”
“We are pleased to partner with a great institution like the University of Louisville, and I thank the KSU and UofL faculty for their innovative and creative thinking; our aim is to build a strong P-20 pipeline to serve Kentucky and this initiative helps meet that goal,” said KSU Interim President Aaron Thompson, Ph.D.
Interested students are identified in the early stages of their study at KSU and are mentored for the graduate program. They must take the GRE and apply for admission to UofL. Upon admission, students study the spring semester of their senior year at UofL and take courses that count toward a bachelor’s degree in math at KSU and the master’s degree in biostatistics at UofL. The balance of the master level courses are completed in the fifth year toward the MS degree in biostatistics.
Kentucky State Senator Gerald A. Neal, 33rd District, is an alumnus of both KSU and UofL and says the initiative is a significant inter-institutional collaboration.
“This is what Kentucky needs. It not only connects the dots between institutions, but connects a students’ course of study to promising careers. I look forward to assisting this effort, and strongly encourage others to help generate the scholarships that will ensure its success,” Neal said.
“The degree collaborative helps to fulfill the need of quantitatively trained professionals who are always in demand in the pharmaceutical, biomedical and insurance industries, as well as in government and academia,” said Craig Blakely, Ph.D., M.P.H., dean of the UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences. “We plan to connect these students to state industries via practicum and internship opportunities.”
“This partnership provides students opportunities to pursue both research and a high-demand, specialized degree. Not only are we preparing Kentucky State University students for workforce development in the Commonwealth, but we also are preparing our students to compete in a global workforce,” said KSU’s Interim Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs, Candice Love Jackson, Ph.D.
Blakely and Love Jackson credit UofL Chair and Professor of the Department of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics K.B. Kulasekera, Ph.D., and KSU Associate Professor of Mathematics and Chairperson of the Division of Mathematics and Sciences Fariba Bigdeli-Jahed, Ph.D., for their tireless effort and leadership in developing the innovative program for KSU students.
Kulasekera, who originated the idea, says he hopes to eventually grow the relationship, allowing for teaching and research collaborations between UofL and KSU faculty.
The initiative is pending notification of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).