Penn State has announced the extension of a special program with the Army that enables senior enlisted military leaders to complete a master’s degree online.
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Fellowship has been extended through 2026 through the partnership with the College of Education at Penn State and Penn State World Campus. The fellowship program started in 2015.
The fellowship program provides scholarships for up to 15 sergeants major to enroll in the online Master of Education in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education while they are stationed at the academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. Upon graduating, the fellows will teach the Sergeants Major Course, which prepares the military’s next generation of leaders with skills they need on and off the battlefield and helps them earn college credit.
The online master’s degree program in education is offered by the College of Education at Penn State through Penn State World Campus.
"We are honored to continue our partnership with the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy and provide these dedicated military leaders with the education they need to succeed in their careers," said Renata Engel, vice provost for Online Education at Penn State. "At Penn State, we are committed to providing access to high-quality education for students all over the world, and this partnership is a testament to that continued commitment."
The fellows who are selected for the program must meet Penn State’s admission requirements. They spend a year stationed at Fort Bliss and are enrolled as full-time graduate students taking courses in adult education theory and practice.
Since the fellowship program began, 111 soldiers have graduated, and 15 more are on track to graduate this summer.
The success of the fellows and the soldiers they teach
Graduates have been successful in their studies and careers. Some have published research in academic journals. Some have gone on to pursue and complete doctoral degrees. Others have been promoted to Sergeants Major Academy and Army leadership positions.
The fellowship program provides another benefit to the Army and the students they go on to teach in the Sergeants Major Course.
In 2019, the Sergeants Major Academy received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission because of its rigorous curriculum and faculty with requisite terminal degrees. Graduating fellows, who completed their master’s degrees from Penn State, greatly supported this achievement. The accreditation means that the soldiers who complete the Sergeants Major Course can receive college credits toward a bachelor’s degree from the Army Command and General Staff College.
“The value of the Sergeants Major Academy’s collaborative efforts with the Penn State World Campus fellowship program is critical to achieving the academic outcomes of our degree program for our Army’s future senior-most enlisted leaders,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Schmidt, commandant of the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence and Sergeants Major Academy. “Without this partnership, we would probably still be pursuing accreditation for what is now an approved program of record to deliver curriculum supporting a bachelor’s degree in leadership and workforce development to the students of the Sergeants Major Course.”
A degree from the College of Education
The online Master of Education in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education program is based on the same degree that is offered through the College of Education at Penn State, which has been educating teachers and educators since 1923. When the master’s program opened in 2001, it was the first master’s degree offered online at Penn State.
Through their course work, the fellows reflect on their prior leadership and teaching experiences to better understand how to teach adults. The faculty aim to expose the fellows to new ideas and practices to improve the educational experience of the students the fellows will be teaching in the Sergeants Major Course.
"Penn State and the College of Education have a long tradition of teaching the best practices to educate students, both in the classroom and online,” said Will Diehl, an associate teaching professor of education who is the director of the online adult education program. “When the fellows stand in front of their students for the first time, they will be prepared to use the knowledge they learned throughout this program. We are honored to help make it possible for the military’s future leaders to be taught by Penn State graduates.”
25 years of offering programs online
Penn State launched Penn State World Campus in 1998 as its online campus. Today, a comprehensive portfolio of more than 175 online degree and certificate programs is available.
Learn more about what service members can expect in a degree program offered online by Penn State World Campus.