Online master's degree in turfgrass management debuts at Penn State

The first-of-its-kind program offers professionals who manage golf courses and sports complexes a convenient way to become leaders in their profession while remaining on the job

University Park, Pa. -- Supervising golf courses, sports complexes and other turfgrass facilities is becoming increasingly challenging with every turfgrass scientific and technological advance. Professionals now need more education to successfully manage these facilities. Penn State's new Master of Professional Studies in Turfgrass Management -- the first-ever online master's degree in this field -- is designed to help these professionals do just that. For additional information or to apply, go to http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/Apply-MPS online.

“The turfgrass industry is a much more sophisticated enterprise today,” said A.J. Turgeon, professor of turfgrass management and director of Penn State’s online turfgrass programs. “It takes a new breed of turfgrass manager -- one who is more astute about the advancing technologies -- to be a proficient manager.”

Offered by the College of Agricultural Sciences online through Penn State’s World Campus, the 30-credit master’s degree program can help professionals who have a good understanding of turfgrass, but need to strengthen their business and project management expertise, as well as those who have good management skills, but want to round out their knowledge about turfgrass science. Because the program is online, students can work full time, and they can immediately apply what they are learning.

“The master’s degree in turfgrass management provides greater depth of knowledge and a higher level of sophistication for the person who wants to rise to the top of the profession,” Turgeon said.

The online master’s degree completes the turfgrass management portfolio that includes two certificates in turfgrass management, an associate in science in turfgrass management degree and bachelor of science in turfgrass science degree.

Turgeon became interested in using the Internet for educational purposes in the early 1990s. “Someone demonstrated Mosaic [an early Internet browser], and I immediately saw its educational potential,” he said. “It became my life’s goal to use that medium to reach more students.”

When Penn State launched World Campus in 1998, Turgeon was among the first faculty members to teach online. Since 1998, there have been 5,167 course enrollments in all of Penn State’s online turfgrass management programs combined.

Bob Ehrler of West Hills, N.Y., is the first graduate of Penn State’s online bachelor’s degree program, earning a bachelor of science in turfgrass science. Ehrler, a golf course consultant and builder of golf courses and sports fields, said this about the online program: “It allowed me to get a turfgrass science degree while still being able to work.” He appreciated the flexibility of online courses, noting, “You can work at your own pace to obtain a goal that might otherwise be unobtainable.”

That’s what Turgeon envisioned when he designed the courses he was teaching in the classroom for the Web. At first, the transmission speed of computer modems constrained what types of information he could send his students. Turgeon currently is upgrading the turfgrass courses to incorporate dynamic displays and other features to enhance the learning environment for students.

“My dream has been the online master’s degree,” Turgeon said. “I’m very excited about the program.”

Penn State is now accepting applications for the online Master of Professional Studies in Turfgrass Management program. For information, click on the Web address above or call 800-252-3592.

Penn State World Campus specializes in adult online education, delivering more than 60 of Penn State’s most highly regarded graduate, undergraduate and professional education programs through convenient online formats. Founded in 1998, Penn State World Campus is the University’s 25th campus serving more than 9,600 students in all 50 states and 62 countries. For more information, visit http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/ online. Penn State World Campus is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 114 countries worldwide.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010