Growing the Graduate (Student)

A student explores online graduate programs.

Seattle University enhances Graduate, Online and Professional Education to meet the needs of today’s students with a nod to the future via expanded courses, state-of-the-art facilities and enhanced programming.

Seattle University is ushering in a new era of graduate, online and professional education with a wave of advancements aimed at enriching the student experience—from specific programs to physical spaces for learning—while meeting evolving academic interests and career trends. The university’s recent enhancements include state-of-the-art facilities for executive and hybrid education, strategic program expansions and a commitment to lifelong learning.

While Seattle University has always offered a range of graduate and professional level options, including certificate programs, the university has made a greater commitment to amplifying graduate school with an emphasis on providing a high-quality academic experience for those who are in-person and online. To this end, Graduate, Online and Professional Education is a new unit that is multidisciplinary and meets students where they are professionally or where they want to go, says Trish Henley, PhD, Vice Provost for Graduate, Online and Professional Education and Dean of Graduate Education.

“The educational and upskilling needs of our students and alumni continue to evolve well after they have completed their traditional degree programs,” says Henley. “Seattle University is committed to building adult education programs that are responsive to changes in labor trends and technology skills, thus supporting the educational needs of our alumni and community partners throughout their careers.” 

While the needs of our students may not change, often their career paths do, notes Henley, citing that on average, people switch jobs five times within their working years.

Like our undergraduate students, Seattle University is committed to providing a tailored and fulsome experience for graduate and professional students, all underscored by a holistic Jesuit model of educating the whole person. It’s part of the university’s long-term vision for graduate and professional education.

“One of the things we are charged with is building an exceptional student experience,” says Henley, and that includes meeting graduate and professional students where they are and offering flexibility with evening and weekend classes and online learning that is engaged and connected with peers who are in-person. And, post-pandemic, 80 percent of adult students want a hybrid or fully online experience, says Henley.

As of fall 2023, SU’s graduate programs have 2,241 graduate students—and 748 law students—enrolled, with 22 percent being international students. “Fifty percent of our students are Gen Z,” she explains. “We are thinking about how we are building our graduate programs and what a younger generation expects and needs.”

Seattle University’s commitment to excellence extends beyond campus, with strong partnerships with industry leaders like Boeing, Expeditors, Costco and others. This collaboration enhances educational outcomes and job opportunities for students, aligning academic rigor with real-world demands. 

Cutting-Edge Learning Environments

A major highlight of Seattle University’s investment in graduate programs is the redesign of learning spaces within Hunthausen Hall. This overhaul was not merely cosmetic but focused on pedagogical innovation and inclusivity for both in-person and remote learners—it also reflects the focus on working in teams and community building within a cohort. Henley emphasizes the importance of creating a cohesive experience regardless of the student’s physical location. “We wanted to build a space where remote and hybrid learners can have the same experience, not a lesser one,” says Henley.

The revamped spaces feature advanced technology, mobile amenities, breakout areas—u-shaped learning pods for in-person students, equipped with wall-mounted flat screen TVs and Alexa-like speakers—and a serene spot outside that features a meditation garden, which is a testament to the university’s dedication to holistic education (it’s also a perfect quiet spot for executive leaders, for example, to take a phone call.) Soon the building will be enhanced even more with the installation of an art wall.

In addition to infrastructural upgrades, staff were relocated strategically to reside in Hunthausen. Most of SU’s Graduate, Online and Professional Education staff have moved into new offices in the building. This move also includes the Albers’ Executive Leadership certificate program and Leadership Executive MBA to the modernized spaces tailored to foster leadership in its students. 

Two photographs of the new interior space of the Hunthausen building

Teachers using cutting edge technology for hybrid graduate program

Expanding Program Offerings

Beyond the dramatic changes to the physical spaces and building modifications are the notable additions to the courses and programs at the heart of graduate and professional learning. Recent additions include an Online Master of Mental Health Counseling, Online Master of School Counseling and Online Master of Criminal Justice. Looking ahead, the unit is currently accepting applications for four additional programs launching this summer and in the fall, including the Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity Leadership, online options for the Executive Leadership Certificate program and the Sport and Entertainment MBA and the new Hybrid Master of Education in Transformational Teaching and Learning. The university also already offers an Online MBA and an Online MS in Business Analytics and online and hybrid programs in the School of Law. These offerings respond to industry demand and the preferences of a diverse student body, with an eye toward lifelong learning and career adaptability.

A Vision for Future Growth

The university’s leadership is unwavering in its commitment to educational quality and accessibility. The renovation of Hunthausen underscores a commitment to creating student-centered environments that foster collaboration and innovation. As Seattle University expands its online platforms and programs, it remains focused on preparing students for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow’s workforce. In the next academic year, the unit will also launch several non-credit certificates and workshops as well as a team to support bespoke leadership training and upskilling for our community and corporate partners. 

“As we look to the remaining years of our strategic plan, our focus remains steadfast on enhancing educational quality, expanding access through online platforms and fostering an environment supporting academic and lifelong professional growth,” says Henley. “The progress we have made thus far serves as a foundation for the continued transformation of Seattle University into a leading institution that not only meets but also anticipates the needs of future generations.”

An Infographic showing the rate of retention for graduate programs

Written by Tina Potterf

Monday, July 1, 2024