Evolving Academic Directions for Future Careers

Evolving academic directions for future careers 


Intro to academic directions scenario

Setting the academic course

Drawing from a century of responding to the educational and workforce needs of the community, state and beyond, Missouri State University is creating an enterprising plan for the next decade of success. MSU will celebrate an entrepreneurial spirit within academics. And it will generate an environment of innovation and efficiencies across campus.


Focus area one

Teaching beyond the classroom

Research, creative works and service are vital to the educational process. They also contribute to the richness and essential benefits of society. Faculty support at Missouri State is crucial to ensure engaged, impactful research, scholarly activity and beneficial service to the community.

Fueling partnerships through innovation, collaboration

Community demands, workforce trends and opportunities to share resources will fuel intentional partnerships across academic and industry platforms. These agreements will result in educational and research access for a broader population of students and faculty.


Missouri State University will sustain and expand enrollment by growing and flexing its academic disciplines and programs to meet student interests, industry demands and societal needs.

Attention to supportive and inclusive student access, recruitment and retention strategies will permeate all actions.

Future focus

Specialization will lead the faculty to reimagine pedagogy and its adaptation to the future. Balanced appointments will be as unique to each discipline as the faculty member’s strengths.

Master teachers will gain the support they need to address changing technology, student demographics and industry trends. Practitioner-based research will join traditional research applications, and both will support access and experiential learning. The path to tenure will encompass a broader view of:

  • Community outreach.
  • Workforce development.
  • Interdisciplinary program enhancement.
  • Curriculum innovation.
  • Student mentoring. 
  • Scholarship tied to the public affairs mission.


Big ideas

  • MSU creates a professional doctoral program in psychology.
  • Partners create a mental health center for homeless and uninsured people.
  • Creative workload allows faculty to practice professionally as part of their employment at Missouri State.

Professional doctorate offers academic, professional benefits

Olivia attended a regional university in Missouri and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. After she graduated, she moved to Springfield to work as a children's service worker for the Missouri Department of Social Services, children’s division. 

After a few years working for the state, Olivia decided she was interested in becoming a psychologist. She learned about the collaborative Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) program run by Missouri State University and Burrell Behavioral Health. 

Missouri State faculty members teach classes at the university and see clients at Burrell. And employees of Burrell see clients at Burrell, but also teach classes at the university. 

This arrangement appealed to Olivia because, as a student, she would learn from professors who are not only knowledgeable about teaching psychology, but also current practitioners. 

Olivia would also be able to do her clinical hours at the Burrell/MSU Clinic for Mental Health. The clinic serves youth and adult homeless populations and uninsured patients.

During her years working with families in the Department of Social Services, Olivia knows that mental health is a significant underlying problem with many families in the system. She’s excited to take this next step in her education and career and to help meet the mental health needs of the community.


Focus area two

Responsive. Accessible. Interdisciplinary. Collaborative. Agile. 

These are the characteristics of Missouri State’s academic programs. They will respond to the landscape of a new economy. Robust academic offerings that support higher career salaries as well as societal needs will be at the forefront. They will prepare. They will connect.

Students will benefit from the essential foundation of a strong liberal arts and STEM-based education. They will experience the power of public affairs and become engaged citizens who make worthy contributions to their communities. And they will learn the value of cross-discipline collaborations that fuel entrepreneurial and data-driven careers of today and the future.



Preparing Citizen Bears for the world

A Missouri State education is grounded in its public affairs mission. Course work defines and emphasizes ethical leadership, community engagement and cultural competence.

½ of college graduates will change jobs less than 2 years after initial hire 


Future focus

Giving weight to power skills 

The pace of change in the marketplace and expectations of adaptable life skills require an agile and flexible academic environment. A strong blend of human skills – competencies that can only be achieved through a liberal arts and sciences education – continues to prepare students for career and life changes. Employers of tomorrow will continue to draw heavily from graduates who can articulate and exemplify mastery in:

  • Communication.
  • Management.
  • Leadership.
  • Critical thinking.
  • Problem solving.
  • Teamwork.

These power skills are adaptable, transferable and prepare students to be life-long learners. 

Accessibility for all

The through line that runs across all programs is accessibility. Missouri State will have a fully inclusive framework of accessible information, delivery modalities and academic support. Investment in inclusive practices will help develop and retain a diverse student population. This, in turn, fosters a richer academic and inclusive experience. Missouri State will be diligent in removing barriers - including financial - and streamlining processes to ensure students’ access to education and academic credentialing. 



Big ideas

  • Alumni subscribe to receive free/reduced cost future classes.

Lifetime Learner subscription eases career change

Abby earned an art history degree from Missouri State. When she graduated, she joined the university’s “Lifelong Student” program. A small annual subscription allows Abby to take classes at the university at no cost or at a substantially reduced cost. 

The program starts at a very low cost, increases marginally through mid-career, and then decreases until it becomes free at age 55. 

After graduation, Abby started working as a sales associate in the gift shop at the St. Louis Art Museum while volunteering as a docent at the museum. She worked in the position for a few years and then transferred to a position as a museum technician. 

Abby learned that she really enjoyed the business aspects of the museum. She started thinking about moving into the administrative areas of running a museum. Using the Lifelong Student program, Abby started taking business classes through the College of Business. 

When an assistant director position opened at the Campbell House Museum, she applied and got the position. She decided to pursue the Management Graduate Certificate to learn more about ways to manage resources, analyze needs and set goals.

After several years, Abby and a co-worker decided they wanted to open their own art boutique. The Entrepreneurship Graduate Certificate was the ideal program to prepare her. 

Abby and her partner now run a successful art boutique in the Central West End. The Lifelong Student program helped prepare her to find a fulfilling career that combines her love of art and entrepreneurial spirit.


Focus area three

Traditional and high-tech modalities to coexist

COVID-19 expanded education: How we teach. How students learn. How we connect.

Delivery of academic programs will be matched with content and student access needs. It will be characterized by person-centered, high-touch approaches. The flexibility of modalities and pathways will consider access, convenience and adaptable time structures.

Contemporary instructional delivery will be the standard. Faculty will be supported and optimally prepared to use the latest technologies in their discipline. 

Cutting-edge technologies used in areas of study will ensure student competencies when entering their career field.  

Programs will lean into high impact learning experiences that reinforce curricula and provide relevant exposure to emerging career fields that align with the university’s mission.


  • Seated.
  • Online.
  • Hybrid.
  • On-demand.
  • Self-paced.
  • Immersive weekend.
  • Open-term.

Skill up or re-skill: Academic credentials answer the call

Emerging careers. Promotions. Job loss. The list goes on, but all relate to an attainable solution. Students and graduates can build on their educational and experiential background by adding academic credentials. In response to the ebb and flow of the economy or the desire to change careers, stacking easily attainable academic credentials lends to furthering education across one’s lifespan.

Health care is Springfield’s #1 growth industry

Source: Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce​​​​​​​


Future focus

Embracing synergy for better prepared students

Interdisciplinary collaborations – such as bringing together computer science and cell and molecular biology programs – provide unique and flexible opportunities to respond to relevant student, industry and societal needs. These cross-unit initiatives will power strategic growth, and they will mitigate reductions. Faculty champions and dynamic partnerships will usher the integration of curricula across disciplines and respond to emerging needs. 

Predicted areas of industry growth 

  • Data science. 

  • Mental health.

  • Health care. 

  • STEM.

  • Sustainability.

  • Technology assisted teaching and health care delivery.


Big ideas

  • Cluster hires allow the university to quickly launch new programs.
  • Greater use of technology improves accessibility.

Focused hiring practice launches new program

John Williams is a biotechnology research specialist in the Darr College of Agriculture. Originally from the Kansas City area, John came to MSU as a member of a faculty cohort cluster hire. He and other members of the cohort joined Missouri State to strengthen its focus on sustainability and STEM programs. Members of his cohort hold faculty appointments across campus.

John found his calling in plant science research and is pursuing his doctoral degree. His research focus is on developing drought-tolerant food crops. He values the opportunity to participate in research at MSU with some of the world’s leading scholars in biotechnology. 

Recently, John, who has trouble walking long distances, experienced advances in fieldwork practice. Differing technologies have provided access to field research, including the use of drones. He and his students can catalog data without having to travel on foot to each test site. John now uses a drone to view soil conditions, measure vegetation growth and gather samples.

Whether in the lab or in the field, John respects Missouri State’s commitment to sustainability and sees progress being made in the areas surrounding STEM programs.

Key performance indicators

  • Number of professional doctoral programs
  • Number or percentage growth of students completing UG certificate programs
  • Number of percentage growth of completion of graduate certificates
  • Certificate as a pathway to a graduate degree
  • Process to evaluate new academic programs from a market value perspective in partnership with EAB
  • Roadmap to interdisciplinary programs/hires