Edward Waters To Launch Eight New High-Demand Academic Programs To Nearly Double Overall Degree Offerings In Support Of Continued Programmatic and Enrollment Growth at Florida’s First HBCU

Stakeholders and constituents of Edward Waters University (EWU) have witnessed a period of transformational growth and historic achievement over the past nearly five years in areas ranging from increased philanthropic investment and record student enrollment to greater financial viability and planned or under-construction new campus facilities and capital renovation projects.

At the same time, EWU’s recent upward trajectory has also been marked by significant advancements in another critical area: the establishment of new academic programs.

Accordingly, by the outset of the upcoming 2023-2024 academic year, the university plans to have introduced ten new academic programs to its academic curriculum since 2018, thereby increasing its overall degree offerings by 187.5% to fifteen total. An additional eight new degree programs are currently or slated to be on-boarded at EWU later this year, including six new undergraduate degree offerings and two new graduate degree(s) to include the following:

In the past two years alone, the 157-year-old institution has transitioned from being a college to earning university status, having launched its first-ever graduate degree program(s)—the 100% online Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Education Policy and Advocacy (MEPA) programs—as well as a new undergraduate Bachelor of Forensic Science degree program.    

Many of the university’s new programs began as ideas birthed and developed by EWU faculty as they each underwent multiple layers of internal review by the faculty curriculum committee and administrative units at the University before being approved by the Edward Waters University Board of Trustees.

Donna H. Oliver, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

According to Donna H. Oliver, Ph.D., Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Edward Waters, these new academic offerings at EWU are not only progressive — in keeping with the Edward Waters ‘Eminence 2025’ strategic plan — they are also distinctive and relevant in that they are strategically focused upon aligning student interest with business, industry, and community work-force needs.

“Further, it is our goal to grow enrollments at EWU by providing an infrastructure for online programs and an extensive array of degree offerings while vigorously expanding professional development and leadership opportunities for our faculty and staff,” said Oliver. 

Given the extraordinary number of recently launched and forthcoming new academic programs, EWU is now fortifying its focus towards ensuring the continued high academic quality and sustainability of the programs.

In October 2022, Edward Waters University and the University of Florida’s College of Nursing forged an innovative new partnership to provide a dedicated pathway for EWU students to earn a bachelor of science in nursing, or B.S.N., a degree from the state’s top-ranked nursing program.  The EWU-UF College of Nursing B.S.N. Nursing Pathway program is designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in another field to pursue a degree in nursing.

Edward Waters University President, Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr., and University of Florida President, Dr. Kent Fuchs

The selected EWU students will take their prerequisite courses at EWU, followed by the rest of the required courses at the UF Health Jacksonville campus. A public signing ceremony with Presidents Fuchs and Faison was held on Oct. 12 in Edward Waters University’s Milne Auditorium to launch the partnership officially. This partnership gives qualified EWU biological sciences majors who are interested in a nursing career the option to pursue a nursing degree at UF’s Jacksonville campus, just minutes from the EWU campus. This is the first partnership between an HBCU and the UF College of Nursing.

 “We are working to continuously demonstrate the efficacy of our programs through high student performance and success,” said Oliver. “The university is engaged in a continuous state of ongoing assessment of our faculty and instructional methods as we look for our new programs to distinguish themselves on a national scale.”

Academic Innovation Helping To Drive Record Enrollment Success

As the institution strives to reach that laudable goal, many of the university’s new degree programs have gotten off to an auspicious start despite having just been launched during the last eighteen months. Notably, EWU’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program recently enrolled its fourth cohort of students, with the initial cohort (The Alpha Cohort) having begun their matriculation in the fall of 2021 with 30 new MBA students enrolled. To date, 50% of the EWU MBA’s Alpha Cohort have either already met the requirements to earn their degrees and/or are slated to finish the program by the close of the summer 2023 academic term. Subsequently, the Beta and Gamma cohorts of the EWU MBA program have enrolled at the university, represented by a total of 31 students, 95% of which are currently continuing students in the program and making satisfactory progress toward earning their graduate degrees.  

Similarly, the university’s Master of Education Policy and Advocacy (MEPA) program debuted its first cohort in August 2022 with six students in the program.   Overall retention and performance has been exemplary as the program boasted a 100% retention rate for the current spring 2023 semester with all six students earning perfect 4.0 grade point averages. While initial enrollment in the MEPA program was relatively small due to the short window between the program’s accreditation approval (June 2022) and subsequent launch (August 2022) the program is now receiving high interest as applications for the next cohort of the MEPA program have increased significantly over this past fall.  

EWU’s transformational academic growth has been a primary catalyzing force in placing the university as a trendsetter with regard to increasing its overall enrollment. In fall 2021, the university increased its enrollment by a whopping 14% as the university broke the 1000 student threshold for the first time since 2004 having welcomed its largest class of new students on record.

This past fall, overall enrollment growth has reached nearly 1200 students—the institution’s highest overall enrollment in nearly two decades. Some of the students choosing EWU are now doing so in part as a result of the new programs being offered by the institution.

“Our university faculty and academic administrative leadership led by Provost Oliver have worked collaboratively and with a focused intentionality towards developing new degree programs that are job market relevant and possess high level interestedness from prospective college going students”, said EWU President and CEO Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr.

“The university’s decisions concerning the establishment of these new degree offerings were supported by data trends and research indicating the direction in which we should move from a programmatic perspective and thus far the results have been demonstrably positive and we remain even more excited for the future”     

In 2020, Edward Waters received a $3.5 million increase in recurring state funding from the Florida legislature—a portion of which has been utilized to financially support the establishment of the majority of its new academic programs—as well as to provide “gap funding’ support directly to students a majority of whom depend upon the added financial assistance to remain in school and complete their programs of study.  As a result, the university’s year-to-year overall student retention rates have climbed to nearly 80% over the past three years—an increase that has directly undergirded the institution’s recent enrollment growth.    

In terms of its forthcoming roster of new academic offerings, Oliver says, “EWU is really positioning itself well for the future. The credit goes to our tremendous faculty and the leadership of President Faison,” she added. “The faculty have presented great ideas for new programs, proposals, and arguments for why these programs must be established and President Faison has led in securing the resources to make it happen.”

For more information concerning EWU’s new degree programs, please visit www.ew.edu/academic-degree-programs. To apply for admission to one of the recently added or forthcoming new academic programs at Edward Waters University, please visit www.ew.edu/apply and APPLY TODAY for the Fall 2023 academic term.

Recently Added and Planned New Degree Programs at Edward Waters University:
B.S. in Forensic Science
B.S. in Computer and Information Science;
B.S. in Social Work;
B.S. in Accounting;
B.S. in Public Health;
B.S. in Sports Management;
Nursing Pathways | BS & BSN Program
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Master of Education Policy and Advocacy (MEPA)
Master of Cyber Security (MS-Cybersecurity)