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DOD, USDA Partner in 'Win-win' Distance Learning Program

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"We were looking for a way to cement people's skills and credentials in working with military families, as well as offering our spouses, our military members and veterans opportunities to acquire advanced education online," she said.

Online programs are particularly useful to those in the military community, she noted, so students "don't have to worry about losing credits as they move from location to location."

Thompson said the Defense and Agriculture departments are partnered in the new initiative, which offers graduate-level distance education opportunities through a consortium of land-grant universities.

The program is open to military spouses, veterans, service members and civilians serving the military community, she said. Thompson explained MAAP allows such students to enroll in any of the member universities in specific distance-learning programs and take courses offered through other schools in the program.

The option of taking courses through several schools can speed a student's progress through a graduate program, Thompson noted.

"A lot of times, you need a specific course to complete your degree, and your university may not be offering it that semester," she said. "So you can go into this consortium of universities and find [one] that is offering it that semester."

Universities participating in the program are:

-- Iowa State University;

-- Kansas State University;

-- Michigan State University;

-- University of Missouri;

-- Montana State University;

-- University of Nebraska-Lincoln;

-- North Carolina State University;

-- North Dakota State University;

-- Oklahoma State University;

-- South Dakota State University; and

-- Texas Tech University.

Thompson said master's degree and graduate certification programs offered through MAAP focus on three areas: family and community services, family financial planning andyouth development.

"Those are three areas that we find critical to support the military family community," she said. "So the goal is not only will our service members, spouses and veterans have opportunities to receive their education, but they can also contribute back to the military community in those fields."

Specific degrees and certificates, she added, include a 36-credit-hour master's degree in family and community services; a 42-credit-hour master's degree in family financial planning, which allows the student to take the Certified Financial Planner examination; and an 18 credit-hour graduate certificate in financial counseling and housing, qualifying students to take the Accredited Financial Counselor exam.

The program also offers a 36 credit-hour master's degree in youth development, a 13 credit-hour youth development specialist graduate certificate, and a 13 credit-hour youth program management and evaluation graduate certificate, Thompson said.

Related Sites:

Military Academic Advancement Program [ http://www.gpidea.org/maap/ ]

Special Report: Military Family Support [ http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2012/0212_familysupport/ ]

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