- Associated Press - Sunday, January 15, 2017

FORT YATES, N.D. (AP) - Sitting Bull College is paving the way for master’s degree programs at tribal colleges in North Dakota.

Its latest program focuses on water quality studies, the Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/2jwdEgB) reported. The college’s two-year master’s program began in fall 2014, and its first two students graduated this past spring.

SBC Agriculture Division Director Gary Halvorson said both the graduates have gotten good jobs and that he expects the master’s program to continue growing as other students see it boost graduates’ chances of being successful after graduation.

Bruz Van Dusen, a graduate of the program preparing to work for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said the program opened his realm of learning. Dusen said the master’s program “rounded me out for the job.”

Halvorson said the college is hoping to diversify its master’s offerings in upcoming years with a new subject area.

The college sought master’s accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission in education, business and was approved in environmental science. The environmental science department has five instructors with doctoral degrees, which aided in the accreditation.

Halvorson said SBC is in talks with NASA about acquiring an air quality station so the agency can record measurements on climate change in the area.

SBC is the first tribal college to offer a master’s program in the state and, according to Halvorson, the first in the nation to offer it in the sciences. United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck is also planning to offer a master’s in education within the next three years.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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