News & Events

UMPI approved to offer first-ever Master’s degree

New Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership degree is first in institution’s 117-year history

With approval from its accreditor, the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), the University of Maine at Presque Isle can now offer its very first Master’s degree program—a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL). This fall will mark the first time in the institution’s 117-year history that a graduate program will be offered.

“This is a singular moment and historic milestone for our University,” UMPI President Ray Rice said. “We are incredibly grateful to those who have been involved in the more than two-year process to develop this new degree program, most especially Carolyn Dorsey, and we are so pleased to be able to provide this new offering to those looking for graduate level coursework that is both very affordable and designed with working professionals in mind.”

The new MAOL is part of UMPI’s YourPace degree completion program. Since 2017, YourPace has provided a competency-based online pathway that gives adult learners the ability to earn a bachelor’s degree 100 percent online, in as few as 18 months, for under $10,000. All coursework is asynchronous and there are six start dates per year. The MAOL will be the first master’s degree to be offered through the program.

“We are bringing innovation and investment to public higher education in Maine to meet our students where they are and to provide our employers with the workforce they need to compete,” Chancellor Dannel Malloy said. “The University of Maine at Presque Isle continues to help lead the way for the University of Maine System, its students, and the State of Maine.”

UMPI is the first bricks and mortar public university in New England, and one of a small number across the country, to offer accredited degrees through competency-based education (CBE). Unlike traditional degree plans, YourPace allows students to leverage prior work experience and college credit to quickly advance through what they already know—so they can concentrate on what they still need to learn.

“Our program innovation will allow undergraduate students at UMPI to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in less time and at far less cost than students participating in traditional four-year degree programs,” Carolyn Dorsey, University of Maine System Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, said. Dorsey served as UMPI’s Dean of the College of Degree Completion and Credentialing prior to her move to the System Office in September. “Coupled with national demand for programs like this and our focus on meeting the workforce development needs of our region and state, we knew this was the curriculum we needed to develop.”

YourPace was created specifically to meet the needs of the estimated 200,000 adults in Maine with some college but no degree and provide them with an opportunity to finish their degree on a schedule that fits their lives, with online courseming and expert support that can be accessed from anywhere. With the addition of the MAOL, YourPace will provide adults from Maine and beyond with an accessible pathway to a terminal degree, the highest level of education available in a chosen field.

Similar to an MBA, UMPI’s MAOL serves as a terminal credential for leadership roles in business. The program explores a multidisciplinary, organizational approach to leadership, stressing social responsibility and ethics, creativity and innovation, and dynamic communication and visioning. The cornerstones of the program focus on self and authentic leadership, transformational and transactional leadership, and critical thinking and data analysis that prepare students to lead organizations.

In addition to offering a pathway to a terminal degree, the MAOL allows UMPI to provide its students with a significantly high demand master’s program. Organizational leadership ranks 5th in the top 30 most in demand masters programs in New England, according to a recent Gray and Associates Program Evaluation System Report. The demand nationally is similarly clear; Ruffalo Noel Levitz listed graduate programming in organizational leadership as the ninth most sought after distance education degree by adult learners, witnessing a 167% increase in degree award over the past five years.

Another important impact of the new program, Dorsey explained, is how it not only provides a critical option for adult learners, but also reinforces UMPI’s commitment to traditional-aged learners.

“With our Early College programming available, students can get a jump start on college by taking courses while in high school and then move seamlessly through their undergraduate and graduate work, all while being able to stay in Aroostook County and begin their careers,” Dorsey said. “Our new MAOL allows UMPI to build a strong set of career pathways in high-growth, high-demand fields. We are so pleased to be able to offer it starting this academic year.”

UMPI’s MAOL program will begin with a small cohort during the YourPace Fall Session II in October. Those interested in learning more about the program or applying for the January session start should reach out to Shea Cushman, YourPace Admissions Coordinator, at shea.cushman@maine.edu or 207-768-9433.