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College of Education > News and Publications > 2015: 04-06 news > Army selects Penn State as partner for new educational fellowship program

Army selects Penn State as partner for new educational fellowship program

Through a new agreement between the Army and Penn State, 20 sergeants major will enroll the fall semester in the online master’s of education in adult education degree. The soldiers will then use the degree to teach the country’s future military leaders at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy in Texas.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Senior leaders in the U.S. military will use a Penn State degree to train the next generation of sergeants major in the Army, thanks to a new agreement between the Army and the University.

The Army has selected Penn State as its educational partner for the new U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Fellowship Program, which will provide scholarships for 20 sergeants major to enroll in the online master of education in adult education degree through Penn State World Campus. They will finish the degree within a year and go on to teach the academy’s Sergeants Major Course, which educates the military’s enlisted leaders to operate on all levels of leadership.

U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, trains the military's future leaders.

Successful applicants will begin their online studies Aug. 24, which is the start of Penn State’s fall semester. They will be stationed at the academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, and be full-time students.

“Thirteen years of conflict have demonstrated that the future battle space will continue to grow in complexity and bring amplified intellectual changes, and therefore, an educated force of leaders and senior leaders is required,” said Command Sgt. Major Dennis Defreese. “The partnership with Penn State University is key in attracting the best quality sergeants major to the program and ultimately becoming instructors in the Sergeants Major Course.”

Defreese said the Army chose the master of education in adult education because research shows that teachers with backgrounds in curriculum, learning theory and other educational topics are better prepared teachers than those who only have knowledge of their subject area.

“Our program is designed so that once the instructor finishes the fellowship program they can take the tools acquired in the degree program and immediately put them to use in the classroom,” Defreese said.

The master’s degree in adult education consists of 33 credits with the goal of preparing educators to teach adult learners and understand how they learn best. Topics include distance and continuing education, planning educational programs, research and evaluation of adult learners and designing courses.

The World Campus courses will be taught online by the adult education faculty from the Penn State College of Education, whose degree program in adult education has been an international leader in the field for more than three decades.

“The Army has entrusted Penn State to provide a high-quality education to the sergeants major who will then teach the future military leaders of our country, and we are honored to help serve the educational needs of our country’s armed forces,” said Craig Weidemann, Penn State’s vice provost of online education and vice president of outreach. “The sergeants major will be in the good hands of our expert faculty who have made Penn State a leader in adult education.”

The sergeants major will have access to World Campus’ student support services as well as advising by the adult education faculty.

The program will be fully online and include an on-site orientation at Fort Bliss, Texas, at the start of each semester of the program.

By Mike Dawson, Penn State World Campus (June 2015)