Grad School New Degrees 1

Graduate School Adds Two New Degree Programs

The University’s Office of Graduate Studies are approving two new graduate programs for launch this year; the Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT) and Master of Arts (MA)/Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing.

The MSAT will have its first cohort beginning in June 2019 while the MA/MFA in Creative Writing will launch in fall 2019.

Melissa Febos, an associate professor and Graduate Program Director for the MFA in Creative Writing said, “This new program will allow us to keep our most talented undergraduate writers and to share everything that our faculty and Monmouth University has to offer with writers.”

She also explained that the program is ideal for writers who seek a close-knit, creative and academic community that will support them throughout their careers.

Christina Merckx, Ph.D., an associate professor and Athletic Training Chair, will lead the new MSAT program.

Michael Palladino, Ph.D., a biology professor and Vice Provost for Graduate Studies, said, “For the Athletic Training (AT) programs, we were fortunate to hire Dr. Christina Merckx, an experienced AT who led the curriculum development and facilities design process.”

According to Febos, the new MFA courses will include an advanced craft seminar, an internship seminar, and a year-long creative thesis course in which students are encouraged to finish a book-length manuscript.

The MFA will require students to complete 18 credits, but they must first complete the MA in English for Creative Writing.

Grad School New Degrees 2This will allow students to earn a dual degree in the MA/MFA. There is an option for students to enroll in a five-year Master’s program.

The MSAT program has an option for students to complete four years to obtain an undergraduate degree in biology or health studies and then another two years for the MSAT. It will require students to complete 60 credits.

In the program, students will learn about six “strands” or themes in areas of athletic training that are required by the accrediting body. 

“Our hope is that our MFA graduates leave the program confident in their voices as artists and their paths as writing professionals,” said Febos. “When they leave Monmouth University, they will be ready to begin pursuing publication of their books and full-time positions in publishing, teaching, and professional writing.”

Febos’ experience as a published author and being the recipient of an MFA, herself informed the design of this new program. She is excited that Monmouth students will now be able to follow a career path that she has experience in.

“It means a lot to be able to offer our students the best of what I learned in the field and in my own educational background,” said Febos. “Nurturing developing writers and seeing them succeed is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.”

Palladino said, “We have a very talented, award-winning group of English faculty members to build the MFA around. Graduate Program Director and English professor Kristin Bluemel, Ph.D., Professor Febos, and other colleagues in the department developed an innovative curriculum that bridges our existing MA and track in creative writing into the MFA, thus allowing students to complete an MFA faster and with less credits.”

Palladino gave high praise to the athletics program, saying that the size, quality, and facilities was a positive factor in introducing the MSAT. He also gave praise to Marilyn McNeil, Ed.D., Vice President of Athletics, and Simon Rosenblum, ATC, Associate Athletics Director/Sports Medicine, for their work in creating the MSAT.

“Students in the program will have excellent opportunities for field clinical work within Monmouth athletics, at local schools, and with local minor and professional athletics organizations,” said Palladino. 

Peter Minsavage, a senior health studies student, would be interested in the new MSAT. “As a health studies major, I would find this graduate program perfect for me because of all the knowledge I have taken in at Monmouth,” he said.

Minsavage gave credit to the classes he is taking for preparing him to potentially become involved with a program like this. “To be a young trainer, I feel like the athletes would understand and trust with what I am doing with them,” he said. 

According to Palladino, the need for these new programs was created by student demand, marketing demand, and faculty expertise. “In considering new programs, both MSAT and the MFA emerged for several reasons including local, national, and employment demand for graduates of these programs and an insufficient number of programs offered by local colleges and universities,” he said. 

To determine that the University could create these programs with a high level of success, external experts visited campus to evaluate all elements of the proposed program (faculty, facilities, resources, curriculum etc.).

“One priority of the Monmouth Strategic Plan is to focus on growing graduate programs which, in part, will help us create new opportunities for students and enhance our reputation as a university,” said Palladino.

He concluded, “Such programs will attract new students to the university and in turn we’ll educate professionals who will have very meaningful impacts in their local communities.”

If students are interested in enrolling in these programs, they can contact Melissa Febos (MA/MFA) at, Dr. Christina Merckx (MSAT) at, or Graduate Admissions.