UNE announces new academic programs that address student demand, workforce challenges

aerial picture of u n e's biddeford campus
Among the new offerings are majors in criminology and special education within in the College of Arts and Sciences and a minor in computer science.

The University of New England is pleased to announce a host of new academic programs aimed at preparing students for continually emerging career pathways and addressing gaps in Maine’s workforce.

UNE has introduced two new undergraduate majors within the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS): a Bachelor of Arts in criminology and a Bachelor of Science in special education.

The B.A. in criminology, now recruiting students for fall 2022, prepares students to promote social equality in law enforcement and criminal justice reform. An interdisciplinary curriculum — including hands-on learning and professional experiences — will focus on the social construction of crime, theories of illegal and deviant behavior, social reaction to crime, and the effectiveness of anti-crime policies to train students for a variety of careers in courts, prisons, police stations, government agencies, and a variety of nonprofits, including victim advocacy groups.

The B.S. in special education, also available to students in fall 2022, will train future teachers to make quality education accessible to a wide range of learners. Students will benefit from experiential learning courses, such as special education methods and inclusive classroom management, as they learn evidence-based strategies to thrive as professionals in their field.

Successful completion of the special education major meets all requirements of the Maine State Special Education Teacher Certification Program.

The program is unique, however, in that it was built from courses from both UNE’s elementary/middle and secondary education majors, which will allow students to double major and graduate in just four years with certification in both general education and special education.

“Special Education is consistently identified as having a critical shortage of teachers both in Maine and nationally. Additionally, the existing special education minor is one of the most popular undergraduate minors at UNE. Therefore, it just makes sense to provide this opportunity to students, and it’s a win-win for both UNE and Maine,” said Audrey Bartholomew, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Education at UNE.

Vice President of University Admissions Scott Steinberg said the new programs reflect student desire for academic programming that will prepare them for in-demand careers across the state.

“We know from our work in Admissions that students are excited to study in these areas and that there are jobs available to them upon graduation,” Steinberg said. “UNE’s forward thinking in terms of developing new programs, as well as modifying existing ones, in response to market and societal demands is a key component in a student’s decision to choose UNE for their undergraduate education.”

Additionally, a new minor in computer science complements the university’s existing majors in data science and applied mathematics by providing students a strong foundation in database management and computational reasoning through courses in computer programming, interdisciplinary research, and internships.

“These new programs expand the already broad range of undergraduate degrees offered in the College of Arts and Sciences,” said Jonathan Millen, Ph.D., dean of CAS. “Like each of our majors, these additions provide the necessary balance of a traditional education in the liberal arts, a set of transferrable skillsets in essential competency areas, and disciplinary expertise that aligns with a wide array of career pathways.”

Additional programs also continue to be developed across the University.

In addition to two new two new graduate certificates in education launched late last year, UNE’s online College of Graduate and Professional Studies (CGPS) has added Master of Science in Education ­- Inclusion Education to its graduate and doctoral education offerings.

The M.S.Ed.-IE program, approved by the state of Maine, prepares educators to become special education teachers who will learn co-teaching instructional practices and how to model, teach, and nurture behavioral skills.

Also new to CGPS is a focus area in epidemiology within the college’s Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) program designed for students interested in disease detection, data collection, data analysis, and the statistical basis for policy making.

“As the recent pandemic has demonstrated on a daily basis, epidemiology is a dynamic and crucial part of public health,” said Deborah Shields, J.D., M.P.H., director of Graduate Programs in Public Health within CGPS. “Epidemiologists are on the front line of disease detection, prevention, and planning. This is an exciting and vital field.”

The College of Graduate and Professional Studies has also added an array of new science prerequisite health profession (SPHP) courses, intended for students who wish to enter a health professions program but need one or two prerequisite courses in order to complete their graduate or medical school application.

The college now boasts an impressive slate of 37 SPHP courses — expanded to include mathematics, social sciences, and the humanities — with new courses such as histology, cell biology, microeconomics, macroeconomics, sociology, cultural anthropology, several disciplines of psychology, mathematics, public speaking, ethics, and English composition, among others.