Central Penn College - Central Penn College to offer first graduate degree

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June 27, 2013 Central Penn College to offer first graduate degree

Central Penn College recently received approval from the U.S. and Pennsylvania Departments of Education and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to offer a Master of Professional Studies degree in organizational leadership, the college’s first graduate degree-level program. The advanced degree will give working adults the opportunity to advance in their chosen professions as ethical leaders of change, further developing foundations in communication, research and management. Students will complete the degree on a part-time basis, through a combination of on-site and online coursework, and will specialize in one of two concentrations: organizational development or information systems management.

“This is a defining moment in Central Penn College’s long-standing history,” says Interim President and CAO Melissa Vayda. “Ethics and leadership are already common themes in Central Penn’s career-focused and professional undergraduate degree offerings. An advanced degree in organizational leadership is a natural next step for the college, and an increasingly necessary degree for those seeking advancement in their chosen field.”

Growing out of its downtown Harrisburg location, the college moved to its current 58-acre campus in Summerdale in 1970, offering two-year programs to commuter and residential students. Now, Central Penn offers associate and bachelor’s degrees to more than 1,400 students, operates offsite bachelor’s degree completion centers in Lancaster and Lehigh Valley and offers fully-online and hybrid degree programs.

“As a career-focused college, we were intent on offering a very specific type of graduate degree—one that is grounded in applied, practical learning,” says Vayda. “The Master of Professional Studies not only focuses on theoretical and research coursework, but also employs a collaborative, real-world approach to learning.”

Central Penn’s graduate degrees will build upon existing undergraduate offerings. The college also offers a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership, with concentrations in emergency operations, government and nonprofit organizations.

Economic outlook

The Job Outlook 2013 survey report published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) showed that the top attribute that employers seek on a candidate’s resume is leadership, with 80.6 percent of respondents selecting this attribute.

“Central Penn continues to adapt its academic degree offerings to the needs of the workforce, the local community and, most importantly, our students,” explains Vayda.

The majority of Central Penn College graduates surveyed were interested in continuing their education through graduate studies, with 72 percent indicating they would consider attending a Central Penn graduate program. According to the report, The Path Forward: The Future of Graduate Education in the United States, by 2018, 2.5 million new jobs are estimated to need advanced degrees. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook projects occupations requiring master’s degrees will grow 20 percent from 2010-2020, the fastest of any postsecondary education category.

Based on program student learning outcomes, graduates of the program will be prepared to obtain positions such as: upper-level managers; management analysts; organizational development specialists; and computer and information systems managers.  

According to the PA Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of management analysts will increase as companies seek ways to reduce costs, streamline operations and develop new marketing strategies. Employment of computer and information systems managers is projected to grow 18 percent from 2010 to 2020. This growth will be driven by organizations upgrading their information technology systems and switching to newer, faster and more mobile networks; thus necessitating employees with advanced degrees.

“Possessing industry skills and knowledge are standard tools that any manager needs,” says Dean of Graduate Studies Barbara Maroney. “But to succeed as an effective leader, these managers need to demonstrate a clear understanding of leadership skills and competencies, employee empowerment and real-world problem solving.”

Organizational leadership master’s degree program

In the program, students will learn to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of leadership and management theories
  • Identify and evaluate relevant professional, social and ethical influences, and potential challenges; in conjunction with professional values, standards,  and internal and external policies
  • Analyze and negotiate the interrelationship between individual leadership characteristics and the management needs of the organizational community  
  • Conduct field-specific research, and use it to analytically construct strategic and operational plans

The concentration in organizational development enables the graduate to understand organizational dynamics and culture to practice effective, strategic leadership. The concentration in information systems management is designed to enable information technology professionals to advance to management roles in the industry.

The curriculum includes 33 credits, or 11 courses, and culminates in a capstone in professional studies. Students must design, execute, and present a personal project; which synthesizes and applies selected knowledge, skills and experiences appropriate to the students’ personal and professional goals and/or their chosen area of specialization.

Central Penn’s academic calendar operates on accelerated, 11-week terms, offering students four start dates per year. The college is currently enrolling students in the organizational leadership master’s degree, with the organizational development concentration scheduled to begin in October 2013 and the information systems management concentration to begin in January 2014. If students take two classes per term, they can complete the degree in as little as six, 11-week terms.


Core Courses


Organizational Development Courses

Information Systems Management Courses

Electives (Choose one)

Capstone in Professional Studies


Perspectives of Ethics and Leadership

Organizational Psychology

Legal and Social Informatics of Security


Principles of Supervision


Applied/Action Research Project


Dimensions of Leadership

Organizational Development and Change


Managerial Applications of Information Technology


Management of Operations



Strategic Leadership

Organizations and Sustainability

Database Administration and Management


Negotiation and Bargaining



Leadership Communications

Conflict Management

Project Management


Employment Law for Managers



Applied Research for Professionals



Budgeting and Finance for Managers






Applied Decision Making



*Courses subject to change based on curriculum review process.

Graduate faculty

Central Penn College has two, dedicated full-time faculty members:

Barbara Maroney, Ph.D., Dean of Graduate Studies – With more than 24 years of experience teaching and advising adult students, Maroney will serve as academic advisor to all graduate students. She holds an administration and leadership studies doctorate from Indiana University of Pennsylvania; her dissertation was on “Understanding Undergraduate Adult Student Persistence: A Stress and Coping Model.”

Patrick Hughes, Lead Faculty of Graduate Studies – Hughes has taught at Central Penn since 2006 and regularly publishes peer-reviewed articles on leadership, management and criminal justice. He is a doctoral candidate in leadership at Alvernia University and has earned a Master of Science in Organizational Development and Leadership from Shippensburg University.

Central Penn College is an institutional member of the Association of Leadership Educators and the International Leadership Association, based out of the University of Maryland.

Leadership at Central Penn

Leadership has long been a focus at Central Penn College, from academic programming to the resources offered to students. The Charles “T” Jones Leadership Library opened its doors in 2002. The library, named after noted inspirational speaker and friend of the college Charles "Tremendous" Jones, houses a collection of personal development and leadership materials from many of the country’s top motivational speakers and authors. In 2010, Central Penn built upon its leadership programming through the creation of an institution-wide, interdisciplinary 21-credit Craiger C. Parker Leadership Development Program (LDP). A highly selective program, the LDP was designed to develop, foster, and recognize leaders of honor and integrity, and enhance students’ major fields of study.

With the addition of the college’s organizational leadership bachelor’s degree in 2012, Central Penn transformed the LDP into leadership programming for all students. The program weaves leadership into student clubs, honors societies and other student-run organizations.

To prepare its traditional-age students to become productive leaders, employees and citizens, Central Penn upholds high standards in appearance, attendance, community service, conduct, professionalism, etc. The college’s mission is to provide an education that prepares its graduates to obtain employment or advancement in their chosen field, continue their education or be contributing members of society.

Visit www.centralpenn.edu/masters or call 1-800-759-2727 to learn more about the organizational leadership master’s degree program.


 Central Penn College has been helping students turn potential into career success since 1881, now offering associate, bachelor's and master's degrees in the fields of accounting, business administration, criminal justice, information technology, communications, healthcare, homeland security, legal studies and organizational leadership. The college, currently serving students at its Harrisburg, Lancaster and Lehigh Valley locations, attributes its high rate of student success to a caring faculty and its hands-on learning approach. Based on Central Penn’s most recent One-Year Graduate Survey, 87.8 percent of graduates were employed in their chosen field or continuing their education within one year of graduation. Central Penn College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (267-284-5000). The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. www.centralpenn.edu