Growing by Degrees

The world of higher education is defined by degrees – the higher level degree a university offers, the more respected a university becomes in the world of academia.

So when University of Mobile enrolled its first doctoral students in Fall 2018, the occasion marked more than the addition of some excellent students in two new programs.

It marked UM’s entry into the top tiers of higher education.

“Offering doctoral degrees means we are operating at the highest levels of academia. It says we have decided to dedicate time and resources not only to the distribution of knowledge – that occurs in bachelor’s and master’s programs – but also to the creation of knowledge,” said Dr. Chris McCaghren, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

The Doctor of Musical Arts in vocal performance in the Alabama School of the Arts prepares students for performance and teaching across multiple styles, including contemporary, musical theatre, opera and more. The program provides students opportunities to develop their performance abilities while expanding their knowledge of music literature and vocal technique.

The School of Nursing in the College of Health Professions offers the Doctor of Nursing Practice with tracks in Family Nurse Practitioner or Executive Leadership. Students may enroll in the BSN-DNP or MSN-DNP degree programs. The program is online with on-campus intensives interspersed throughout the curriculum to enhance hands-on experience and networking with other leaders in nursing.

Both degrees prepare graduates to be leaders in their fields, said Dr. Tim Smith, UM president.

“The DNP program prepares students at the highest level, not only in their understanding of the clinical aspects, but also the systems that enable them to have a greater understanding of healthcare in general,” Smith said. “We want to develop leaders in the profession who will be sitting at the table with other hospital administrators, making decisions about the future of healthcare.” 

Rita Croom is dean of the College of Health Professions and assistant vice president for academic partnerships. She said the DNP is a terminal degree for nursing, and its addition means the university now provides a fully comprehensive education in the School of Nursing, from bachelor’s degree to doctorate.

“We are here to prepare leaders at all levels. The addition of the Center for Excellence in Healthcare practice and expanded degree options give alumni an excellent opportunity to come back to pick up their master’s or doctoral degrees,” she said. 

Dr. Maryann Kyle is chair of graduate programs and professor of voice and vocal pedagogy in the Alabama School of the Arts (ASOTA). She said ASOTA historically has trained some of the finest artists, and now can boast that they are training the next generation of teacher-performers.

“Receiving quality training in cross-stylistic singing and teaching from world-class faculty, these future professors will go out into the world to mentor the next generation of great performers and educators,” Kyle said.

Dr. Alan Miller, dean of the Alabama School of the Arts, said DMA in vocal performance provides career enhancement at the highest level of academia.

“At UM, the doctoral degree leads to ‘Higher Education for a Higher Purpose’ as one pursues academic excellence and the desire to model the image of Christ in a career path and daily living,” Miller said. 

McCaghren said these are just the first of many doctoral degrees UM will offer. 

“We see an opportunity to continue the mission of the university through these advanced degrees and be able to contribute to the larger national and international conversation occurring around these topics,” McCaghren said. 

Having a seat at the table gives UM graduates unique opportunities.

“We want students to come out of these programs not only having head knowledge, but also heart knowledge, so they can change their profession for the good of humankind and for Kingdom impact,” McCaghren said.

Are you interested in continuing your education in the Doctor of Musical Arts or Doctor of Nursing Practice programs? Learn more at or, or contact Enrollment Services at 251.442.2222.

New Degrees

You could call it a growth spurt. Since Dr. Timothy L. Smith became president in April 2016, University of Mobile has added 23 bachelor’s degree programs, six master’s programs, and created the first two doctoral programs. In addition to those listed below, UM soon will seek accreditation approval for additional programs in the School of Health and Sports Science and the School of Education.  

ABSN Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing
BS in Applied Mathematics
BA in Classics
BS in Collaborative Special Education (K-6)
BA or BS in Communication Studies
BFA in Creative Writing
BA or BS in Criminology
BS in Digital Media and Advertising
BS in Exercise Science
BFA in Graphic Design
BS in Higher Education Leadership and Practice
BS in Integrated Marketing Communications
BA or BS in Journalism and Broadcast Media
BS in Management
BS in Non-profit Leadership
BS in Pre-Health Biology
BA or BS in Public History
BS in Software Development
BA or BS in Strategic Communication
BS in Sport Administration
BFA in Studio Arts
BA in Theatre
BA in World Languages and Studies
MA in Worship Leadership and Theology
MED in Higher Education Leadership and Policy
MM in Performance – Piano
MM in Performance – Vocal
Master of Ministry
MSN-FNP (Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner)
DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
DMA in Performance – Vocal

About the Author

Kathy Dean

Kathy Dean uses her passion for storytelling and "playing with words" to share the stories of people, place and purpose that make the University of Mobile unique. As associate vice president for university communications, she manages media relations, edits the TorchLight alumni magazine, and oversees university communications. A former award-winning journalist, she is a two-time recipient of the Baptist Communicators Association grand prize for feature writing. Kathy and her husband, Chuck, live with three extremely loud miniature schnauzers.