Universities in the Pine Belt continue to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both the University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University have moved their summer classes to online formats. Spring classes are already meeting in these formats.
The universities have also canceled some entrance requirements for graduate programs, including entrance exams such as the GRE and GMAT.
Dr. Karen Coats, dean of the Graduate School at Southern Miss, said the “university remains sensitive to the challenges people from across the globe face due to the coronavirus.”
Among those challenges are closures of many test centers that typically administer standardized exams in the United States and abroad, according to Coats.
“At the Graduate School, we want to ensure that those who are interested in pursuing a graduate degree are not hindered by the inability to sit for the GRE and GMAT due to test center closures,” she said.
The iTEP exam, used to test English proficiency, has also added an at-home testing option, and the university will accept this exam with a score of 4.0 to meet the Graduate School’s English proficiency requirement, said Coats.
Southern Miss officials have also tentatively rescheduled commencement ceremonies on the Hattiesburg campus to Aug. 20 for graduate students and Aug. 21 for undergraduate students.
“These plans are subject to change pending future public health guidance as COVID-19 circumstances continue to evolve,” said a statement from the university.
Southern Miss is currently operating on an “orange” COVID-19 response status, meaning the university has converted institutional functions to remote formats wherever possible and limited operations and access at all locations.
Public access to the university remains suspended, and vehicular and pedestrian traffic on university property is strongly discouraged.
Potential students may visit www.usm.edu for updates and more information.
According to an April 3 update from William Carey, the university offers a fully online Master of Business Administration degree, and the GMAT entrance exam requirement has been suspended until further notice. Students may enter the program in the summer, fall, winter or spring sessions of the university, and the program consists of 30 credit hours or up to 39 credit hours for those without undergraduate business coursework.
William Carey also offers an educational leadership online doctoral program, and the GRE entrance exam requirement is currently halted. The program begins again in the winter term, and completed applications are due Aug. 1.
Also, the William Carey School of Education is offering an accelerated program to help people who wish to become classroom teachers. According to Dr. Ben Burnett, dean of the School of Education, the Mississippi State Board of Education recently voted to suspend the requirement for licensure exams as an entry point into teacher education for the undergraduate level and for the alternate route program.
The alternate route program is now fully online, said Burnett, and consists of two classes for students with an undergraduate degree. Those classes can be taken over the summer, and students can then receive a teaching license.
According to Burnett, the state board suspension applies through December 2021.
Burnett said the university is also offering an assistant teacher scholarship, which consists of a 50 percent discount to help assistant teachers complete their undergraduate degree.
The update added that May 1 is the application deadline for the Doctor of Pharmacy program at the William Carey Tradition campus in Biloxi. Students are encouraged to apply now to avoid any delays caused by the pandemic.
William Carey is also offering an online master’s degree in criminal justice, and the GRE suspension applies to this program as well. The program can be completed in about 14 months.
The university’s Winters School of Music has also made it possible for prospective students to audition online, according to the update. All students who audition will receive a scholarship, and vocalists are asked to present one prepared piece. Instrumentalists should present two major scales and one prepared piece. Auditions are due by April 15.
The update also said that Carey Dinner Theatre, expected to celebrate its 45th anniversary this summer, has canceled its 2020 season.
William Carey has also canceled its upcoming commencement ceremonies and its annual Homecoming celebration.
For more information on William Carey programs, visit www.wmcarey.edu.