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New degree programs see first round of graduates

During its degree presentation ceremony on May 9, Liberty University’s School of Music awarded two degrees for the first time: the Bachelor of Music in Songwriting and the B.M. in Artistic Development.

Several recently launched Liberty University degree programs celebrated their first graduating classes at Commencement 2015.

The School of Health Sciences awarded five degrees to students who earned a Bachelor of Science in Zoo and Wildlife Biology. Launched in Fall 2014, this program trains students to work directly with animals. Dr. David DeWitt, chair of the Department of Biology & Chemistry, explained that unlike zoology, a similar major that prepares students for veterinary school, the zoology and wildlife biology major prepares graduates for careers at zoos or aquariums.

“We tailored the program and included an internship so that students would be ready when they enter the job market,” DeWitt said.

The School of Health Sciences also graduated its first class of eight students from the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences program that launched last fall. The program is offered in one- and two-year tracks. There are currently 14 students enrolled in the two-year program, and 60 students will start this fall.

“There is a lot of interest in medicine and biomedical research,” DeWitt said. “Some students want to go to medical school but may not be ready or prepared. This program equips them for professional schools like medical, dental, or other areas of interest. Because our department has an outstanding track record of placing students in medical school, it was natural for us to expand that preparation at the master’s level.”

The Department of Counselor Education & Family Studies awarded 35 first-time degrees to graduates who earned an M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. This program recently received accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the highest standard for counseling programs.

“Graduates from this program can work in a variety of community and faith-based mental health counseling facilities as well as apply to Ph.D. programs,” said Dr. Mary Deacon, director of the clinical mental health counseling program.

The School of Music awarded its first Bachelor of Music in Songwriting to one graduate, and a B.M. in Artistic Development to two graduates. Both of these degree programs were launched in the Fall 2013 semester. Liberty is the only evangelical university to offer a bachelor of music in songwriting and one of only two college-level programs in the U.S. that offer an artistic development degree.

“Liberty has a long history of producing recording artists for the Christian music industry,” said Dr. Vernon Whaley, dean of the School of Music. “Now, the process of training artists is formalized as students study principles of artist presentation, business, music technology, song selection, spiritual formation, and ministry.”