PrEsented by our Partner Schools

calupenn-interview.pngFeatured Q & A with Dr. Stanley A. Komacek, Dean & Professor, School of Graduate Studies & Research

Describe the range of graduate programs and degrees offered by your school(s). What are the largest departments or degree programs?

California University of Pennsylvania offers 73 graduate-level options, including master’s degrees, certificates, professional certifications and short-term letters of completion. Both face-to-face and 100% online programs are available.

The majority of Cal U’s 52 graduate-level majors and concentrations focus on elementary, secondary and special education, as well as professional programs for reading specialists, school counselors and psychologists, principals, and superintendents. Additional degree programs are offered in fields such as nursing, athletic training, communication disorders, social work, legal studies and applied criminology. Students can earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA), or a Professional Science Master (PSM) in cybersecurity or applied mathematics.

In terms of enrollment, Cal U’s largest graduate-level programs are in the fields of exercise science and health promotion, sport management studies, education, nursing, business, and legal studies. Nearly 30 graduates of the Exercise Science and Health Promotion program are employed by professional sports teams. 

What are the student characteristics that “fit” well with your school culture and community?

California University’s graduate programs focus on career outcomes. They appeal both to students who are seeking third-party professional certification required to enter careers such as education and school administration, and to working professionals who are looking to advance within their current career field by adding a credential or broadening their knowledge base.

Can you describe the history of your school? What are the core mission and values of the school today?

The institution was founded in 1852 as the South Western Pennsylvania Normal School, a training college for public school teachers. Its curriculum broadened as it became California State Teachers College (1929) and then California State College (1960). The School of Graduate Studies and Research, created in 1961 by the Pennsylvania State Council of Education, originally offered post-baccalaureate degrees in elementary education and industrial arts education. In 1983 California University of Pennsylvania became one of 14 universities comprising Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.

Today, Cal U is a comprehensive regional university offering traditional and online programs in education and human services, the liberal arts, science and technology, and graduate studies and research. It is distinguished by its commitment to career-focused, applied education and to its core values of integrity, civility and responsibility.

Are there particular strengths of your school associated with your parent university, such as key centers or institutes of research?

Several centers and institutes are run by Cal U faculty who coordinate or lead graduate-level programs. Cal U’s Center for Excellence in Elementary Science and Math Education teaches early childhood educators to create lessons that connect children with science and nature. Cal U’s Institute of Criminological and Forensic Sciences serves law enforcement, district attorneys, coroners and public defenders by providing services through a team of professional criminologists and forensic, behavioral and legal scientists. The Institute for Law and Public Policy provides continuing education for justice professionals including police, lawyers, corrections and human services personnel, security specialists and judicial personnel. Cal U’s Child and Family Institute studies and disseminates information about issues facing youth and families. 

What are the most important accolades your school has received recently?

The Princeton Review has listed California University of Pennsylvania in its Best Colleges: Region by Region (“Best in the Northeast”) for 10 consecutive years, and in its Guide to Green Colleges annually since 2010. Fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Cal U has been recognized as a military-friendly university and a “Best for Vets” option.

Cal U Global Online, which offers 100% online degree programs, is recognized by Guide to Online Schools as one of the Top 3 online education providers in the nation. U.S. News and World Report has ranked three Global Online programs in its Top 100: Online Graduate Education Programs, No. 35; Online Graduate Nursing Programs, No. 54; and Online Bachelor’s Programs, No. 82. has ranked Cal U as the No. 1 Most Affordable Online College in Pennsylvania.

What factors are most important in your admissions process?

Undergraduate academic performance is the key variable for graduate admissions. Some programs also require specific entrance exams (Praxis/PAPA, GRE, MAT) or documentation of professional experience through letters of recommendation, references and/or other supporting material. 

How many application rounds are there for your school?

The application schedule varies by program. Some highly selective programs admit students just once a year. Most programs admit students at least twice yearly, typically in fall and spring.

A number of Global Online programs offer an accelerated schedule, with summer and/or winter admissions in addition to fall and spring start dates. 

Describe the faculty at your school.

Qualified faculty members teach all courses. Graduate students do not teach courses, although some are employed as teaching assistants. Since 2011, four Cal U professors have participated in the Fulbright Specialist program.he application schedule varies by program.   

Does your school offer specializations within its graduate degree programs?

Yes. Our most popular concentrations are within Exercise Science, which offers five concentrations (Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation Sciences, Sport Psychology, Wellness and Fitness, and Wellness Coaching) and Legal Studies with three (Criminal Justice, Homeland Security, and Law and Public Policy). Our teacher education programs offer specialized concentrations by grade level (preK-4, 7-12, and K-8), and our Special Education program offers a concentration in Autism Spectrum Disorders.  

Do you offer thesis and non-thesis graduate degree options at your school? Please describe. 

Cal U offers both thesis and non-thesis options in our master’s degree programs. Through the years, the number of professionally focused programs has increased and the number of research-focused programs that require a thesis has decreased. Several programs lead to professional certification from state departments of education or other agencies; these typically have capstone courses that require students to apply their knowledge in clinical, practicum, internship, and externship settings. Cal U offers two professional science master (PSM) programs, one in cybersecurity and one in applied mathematics. Both PSM programs require students to apply what they have learned in business, industry or professional situations.   

Describe the typical internships among your students.

Most Cal U programs include an internship, clinical, practicum, student teaching or other capstone experience in which students apply what they have learned in classes. In most programs leading to certification by a third party, these experiences are mandated by the certifying agency. Student teaching is one example. Another is the school psychology internship, which requires a minimum of 1,200 hours of practical work experience under the direct supervision of a qualified psychologist.  

Describe the need and merit-based aid offered by your school.

The only financial support provided to graduate students comes in the form of graduate assistantships supported by funds provided by the University or other source and administered through the University. A graduate assistantship provides part-time employment to a qualified student in pursuit of a graduate degree, encourages scholarship and responsibility, enhances the academic experience, and assists departments and faculty in carrying out their missions. In our traditional on-campus graduate programs, about 42 percent of students receive an assistantship.
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