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In the news: State Board approves joint master’s degree program

Feature Story
Posted on Oct, 14 2011

Published in: NDSU It's Happening at State, Volume 3, Issue 19, 10/14/11

Note: This program is NDSU Distance and Continuing Education's newest online degree program. The Experience Uganda study tour is the cornerstone experience for this program.

State Board approves joint master’s degree program

The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education unanimously approved a joint master’s degree program and graduate certificate between NDSU and Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Approved Sept. 15, the Master of Science and graduate certificate program in international infectious disease management and biosecurity is the first of its kind at NDSU, offering a joint degree in which both institutions will be named on the degree certificate.

The programs will train students to address infectious disease problems using the “one world, one health, one medicine” concept in a way that will tackle new and emerging pathogens not limited by species or geographic boundaries from their source of origin or hot spots. The program will partner NDSU’s Department of Veterinary and Microbiological Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources with Makerere’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity and School of Public Health. Makerere University approved the program Aug. 12.

One of the potential impacts of the program is the opportunity to develop international collaborations that address global health issues. The program will provide students from both regions with educational and training experiences at a major North Dakota land-grant university, as well as a leading African research university (Makerere was recently ranked as the 10th best research university in Africa by Webometrics, a global university performance monitoring organization). Students can enroll at either university with tuition going toward whichever institution is the primary institution.

“This joint program is a milestone in the cooperation between the two universities. It is going to give our students an amazing and unique opportunity to obtain skills and career opportunities in the global health arena,” said Margaret Khaitsa, program director for the Master of Science and Graduate Certificate Program in Infectious Disease Management and Biosecurity.

The new program also will serve as a model academic collaboration. “It will place NDSU at the frontier in advancing global health initiatives across the state, the nation and internationally in a unique and innovative way. This is a historic day for North Dakota, for NDSU and for our college,” Khaitsa said.

The inaugural class of eight students – four from Uganda, one from Ethiopia and three from the U.S. – has already begun their studies with a study abroad course, didactic classes offered in Makerere University in Kampala and individual experiential projects spanning their eight-week training in Uganda this summer. Funding for the students is from a U.S. Agency for International Development/Higher Education for Development grant and U.S. Department of Agriculture Higher Education Challenge grant. Both grants were won by NDSU’s veterinary and microbiological sciences department led by Khaitsa.

The backbone of the master’s degree will be five core courses totaling 13 credits that will provide key concepts in the areas of global awareness, international disease management, epidemiology and biosecurity. These concepts are necessary for students to attain mastery in international infectious disease management and biosecurity. The summer study abroad in Uganda course, MICR 723 (International Animal Production, Disease Surveillance and Public Health), will serve as a cornerstone experience for the program. Each of these core courses will be supported by a number of electives which will be offered at NDSU and Makerere. Students who opt for the graduate certificate in “International Infectious Disease Management and Biosecurity” will earn it upon completion of the five core courses.

“This program will provide a unique international experience for students interested in animal and public health,” said Neil Dyer, interim head of the veterinary and microbiological sciences department and director of the NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. “The strength of the program lies in the shared experience of investigation and learning in different parts of the world.”

For more information about this program, visit www.ndsu.edu/vetandmicro/students/current/graduate/infectious-disease-management.