My first year at WNMU in the MAIS Program

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Paidagogos, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. Paidagogos

    Paidagogos Member

    Hi, I am a new member to the forums, but I have been reading and benefiting from information on Degree Info for about a year now. I have especially benefited from the posts of Matt Brent, who in his knowledge of the program and love of history, led me to the current online master’s program I am in now at Western New Mexico University.

    I have been wanting to make a profile on Degree Info for a long time now, and I have just been putting it off, and putting it off because I have been so busy. Since, I have benefited so much from the forums here, I found it was finally time to give back.

    I saw recently that some folks were interested in the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program at WNMU, so I figured I would share my first year experiences in the program. My areas of concentration are in History and English. I hope to do some adjunct work in community colleges after graduation, either online or in the classroom.

    In my first year, I have only taken a few classes, but I have enjoyed them immensely and I feel I have learned a lot. Here is a series of classes I’ve taken in the first year, and my experience in the class and with the teachers:

    HIS Modern European History Seminar – This was a great class that explored the social and cultural aspects of Europe from about 1500 onward. We read about 10 books, and wrote short reviews on each, that was finally posted to blackboard. In addition, we were required to do a 25 pp. research paper. Dr. John Lavalle, who is a distinguished European history scholar, taught this class. This class required a lot of reading and writing.

    ENG Greek Tragedy – This was a very fun course that I took in the summer to learn about Greek Tragedy and myth. It was taught by Dr. Debbie Heller, who is a gifted teacher that worked hard to convey the importance and timeless elements of the Greek myths and plays. The bulk of the class consisted of close readings of Euripides and Sophocles, after which the works were discussed on bb. After the readings, she also gave us study questions, which we were required to respond to, usually about 1,000 words each. The amount of writing in this class was about average.

    ENG Studies in Ancient and Medieval Literature – This is the class I am in now, and it is about to finish. It has been very enjoyable. It has been taught by Dr. Welsh, who is a great teacher, and has really worked to give students the knowledge and resources to study and research literature. I took the class mostly because I wanted to closely read the Homeric epics. This semester’s course focused mostly on ancient literature, but I am told that in future offerings it may focus more on medieval works. In this class, I have done close readings on the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Ramayana, and the Homeric epics, The Iliad and The Odyssey. In this class you are required to write two 4-5 pp. papers on one of the epics, and then a final 10 pp. paper.

    Only taking three classes in the first year is nothing ambitious, but it has been a great start back to school, especially after a false start in an expensive private grad school I quickly realized I could not afford.

    I hope that these musings and reflections will help those interested in WNMU make decisions on future courses, or teachers. I am open to questions for those that want to know more.

    Apart from that, I am very honored to be a part of this forum. Good luck to all in their education endeavors!
  2. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator Staff Member

  3. AdjunctInstructor

    AdjunctInstructor New Member


    Thanks for the information. There nothing as good as a current firsthand account. Welcome.
  4. StefanM

    StefanM New Member

    It seems like WNMU is the new Aspen, at least in terms of DI topics!

    I'm glad to hear about the course with Dr. Heller. I have her this spring for Shakespeare.
  5. ryoder

    ryoder New Member

    Thanks for the information.
  6. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator Staff Member

    I think you may be right about that, Stefan. Seems like anytime something is a great deal, our members are all over it.
  7. rebel100

    rebel100 New Member

    Great to know. Please continue posting about your History classes, I like to know everything I can about a course before I make a commitment. I am newly enrolled and begin in January History/Criminal Justice combo.

    Welcome to the forum.
  8. Paidagogos

    Paidagogos Member

    Rebel, I'll be sure to let you know about the history courses. I'm signed up to take HIS Ancient Civilizations (focusing on Greece), and HIS World War I in the spring- both of these classes will be with John Lavalle. Gonna be a whole lotta writing going on! haha.
  9. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    Outstanding first post, Paidagogos.

    Welcome to the forum as an active contributor!
  10. rebel100

    rebel100 New Member

    I signed up for Authoritarianism and Democracy in Latin America with Dr. Hernandez. It was the last course open for the Spring. He seems like a really nice guy, has already contacted me about the class and in regards to being my advisor for the History portion of my degree plan.

    He calls the class a "reading seminar" no quizzes or tests, but we have to read 12 books with a report due on each and a final paper synthesizing what we learn in the course. We do get to pick 9 of the books and can substitute 3 journal paper readings for 1 book. I'm not honestly certain where to begin but do plan on starting off on my reading....I know very little on this subject matter, not really within my sphere of concern...till now! :)
  11. rebel100

    rebel100 New Member

    Ahh WW1, now we're talking! American History or American involvement in World History is definantly more to my liking. I'm looking forward to taking the course on the Railroads possibly in the summer.
  12. ryoder

    ryoder New Member

    Read 12 books! Wow. Holy crap. Are these 400 page books or what? That is a LOT of reading.
    I would make sure the books you have to read have Cliffs notes.
    Journal papers are much easier to digest than a whole book so I would strongly consider that. For one thing, they start out with an abstract so if you are a little lazy, you can just read the abstracts and selected topics in the article. My papers for NCU typically have 5-10 journal articles behind them but I do not read each and every article in full. Sometimes you just want to know the findings of a study, whereas other times you want to know the methods but don't care about the findings so much so you really don't have to read the whole thing if you are in a hurry.
  13. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    Having done/doing both (residential and DL), I've found that DL programs have a lot more reading than residential, probably because of the lack of classroom lectures with DL courses. My current program requires 3-4 textbook chapters and 4-8 academic journal articles every week, which may not sound like much until you have to find the time to actually do it.
  14. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator Staff Member

    I feel you pain.
  15. mattbrent

    mattbrent Active Member

    If I end up getting into the community college, I might head back to WNMU at some point and pick up some English credits. Looks like the English selection is far superior to the History & Political Science selections.

  16. Paidagogos

    Paidagogos Member

    Matt, would you say it has been really difficult to get work at the community college level? Fulltime or part-time?

    That is my goal after I graduate. I live in a rural area, which typically has a lot of openings, but do you think it is is too much to expect to at least get some adjunct work in a cc after graduating? I suppose getting a fulltime position is really the luck of the draw, and whether you have your Ph.D. right?
  17. mattbrent

    mattbrent Active Member

    I was easily able to get in with the Community College because I taught high school, and when I finished enough credit hours, I was able to teach the college courses to my high school kids. That made me an adjunct, and from there my name got into their system. I've picked up a few courses since then, and I'm still trying to get in there full time. I'm just waiting for someone to retire.

    I'd have to say though, from what I've observed, most of the folks at the CC do NOT have doctoral degrees. Surely that would probably make you more competitive, but then again, they might be discouraged from hiring you if they have the thought that you might ultimately bounce out of there and go to a four year school.

  18. jumbodog

    jumbodog New Member

    My expereince

    My experience in the on-line MAIS @ WNMU has been somewhat different than the original poster's. Let me break it down for anyone who is thinking about attending.


    Slow but the people are knowledgeable and helpful; they respond more quickly if you call rather than e-mail.

    Financial Aid

    A big mess. The staff are experts at buck passing and failing to communicate important information to the student. The online portion (Mustang Express) is badly broken both from a coding point of view and a user interface point of view. A hair-tearing out experience.

    Business Office

    Don't have too much interaction with these folks. Probably a good thing. Sometimes mysterious charges appear on your bill. They explain it.


    This works well. Staff are quick to respond to e-mails and they make sure that you got what you were looking for. The overall range of resources at the library is not the greatest but its workable. So far so good.

    MAIS Program Coordinator

    Excellent. On the ball and knows the rules and regulations and goes out of their way to help students get the administrative details nailed down. I couldn't live without them.


    Ugh. Most of them refuse to respond to e-mail at all and even after phones calls can takes weeks to get back to you. Once you do get in contact with them they generally have a negative attitude. I've interacted with four of the concentration coordinators and I have yet to communicate with one of them that really seemed interested in helping the student get through the program. Honestly they act more like low paid graduate assistants at big city uni than professors with doctoral degrees.

    My biggest complaint about the faculty, however, is that for an interdisciplinary program it's shocking how non-interdisciplinary they are. It's more a collection of little silos just like a normal university. Do not, under any condition, suggest that maybe you should actually do an interdisciplinary thesis as you would kill them in horror and fright at the suggestion. Maybe they are just overwhelmed with students and simply don't have the time.

    The Program

    It's really designed for the part-time student. In theory you could finish the 36 credit hours with 18 credit hours in two concentrations in two full semesters and one or two summers (depending on transfer credits) but that's a tough row to hoe for two reasons. First, many of the concentrations have a limited number of classes that are offered each semester (2 or 3 classes). Second, these classes have limited seats and they fill up quickly. For example, it's late April now and many classes for Fall 2012 are either full or close to filling. Especially if you are on financial aid you need to consider this aspect very carefully or you could find yourself with an extra semester or two to pay for. If you must get done in a year you're far better off doing 18/9/9 as this will give you greater scheduling flexibility. Just make sure you pick an 18 where enough classes are being offered.

    My overall point is that the devil is really in the details with this program and two different but equally capable people in the MAIS can have vastly different experiences depending on what concentrations they pick and what their time horizons are like. It's far less a true interdisciplinary program than a program for people who are either lost or just like to dabble.
  19. sumtuck

    sumtuck New Member

    I am thinking about applying to the MAIS at WNMU so this has been a very helpful post. I am hoping to do a thesis because my ultimate goal is to get a PhD. Has anyone completed a thesis with this degree?
  20. Psydoc

    Psydoc New Member

    I did a thesis in the English concentration; however, I do not believe the thesis option is now available in any of the disciplines. When I did mine it was a night mare; little to no urgency on the part of the faculty member and the member did not answer emails and also did not answer their phone and the phone was not set up to take messages. I hope this is helpful.

    On a brighter note, I received my diploma in English/Writing and went to work as an adjunct in a local community college - teaching English.

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