The UofM announced that three new graduate programs, two doctoral programs in social work and applied physics and a master's program in engineering, will be available for students during the fall 2020 semester.

Dr. Susan Neely-Barnes, chair of the UofM's social work department, said that the program emphasizes evaluation, research and outcome measurements. The program requires students to have a Master of Social Work degree and at least two years of post-MSW experience.

"A lot of our graduates go into nonprofits and other agencies that would get those grants, so it would be beneficial to have more people who could measure those outcomes and evaluate," Barnes said.

Barnes said another intention of the program is to provide more opportunities for social workers who feel stuck in their careers.

"Social workers in the community were saying that it was hard to advance in their career because the other comparable disciplines have doctoral degrees, but social work often doesn’t," Barnes said. "We have people who are unable to move up to supervisory positions in some hospitals and school district jobs because they didn’t have the advanced degree, so they want to be able to move up in management."

Barnes said that the need for social workers is ever-increasing. The department found in market analysis that social work jobs in the state of Tennessee are expected to increase by 126 percent.

Dr. Roger Meier, Director of Graduate Studies for Herff College of Engineering, said the UofM tried to start a Master of Science program before.

"When the UofM was still with the Tennessee Board of regents, we were asked to create a Master of Science program for engineering management with concentrations in very specific areas to mesh with other programs throughout the state," Meier said.

Meier said that in order to cater to employers, the program concentrates on managing manufacturing and transportation operations. Students must hold a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a minimum GPA of 2.5 to apply.

"Memphis has a fairly substantial manufacturing component, especially with medical devices and high technical manufacturing," Meier said. "Also, being a transportation hub, we have a lot of transportation jobs."

 Dr. Xiao Shen, an assistant professor at the UofM's department of physics and Material Sciences, said that a Ph.D. program is a requirement for any reputable physics department. The programs requires a Bachelor of Science in physics, a minimum 3.0 GPA and three letters of recommendation.

"If you look at the highly ranked universities in the country, they have very strong physics departments, and these departments operate with a Ph.D. program," Shen said.

Shen said students felt limited by the previous graduate programs and would change schools to further their degree.

"On average, we've had three bachelor students go somewhere else for their Ph.D. per year, and six master students go somewhere else for their Ph.D. per year," Shen said.

Shen said that Memphis has a strong demand for physicians in Memphis' economy, but the supply is lacking.

"Right now, we have this opportunity to serve as a center of academic excellence and a catalyst for science, technology and academic growth," Shen said.

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