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M-State has 2-year programs and newly expanded programs

Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Detroit Lakes. Photo by Brian Basham

An important part of any organization’s staying power is its willingness to embrace change.

Nowhere is this more evident than at the Detroit Lakes Campus of M State, also known as Minnesota State Community & Technical College in Detroit Lakes.

Since the school began its operations 53 years ago, it’s been creating and redesigning programs that teach students the skills and knowledge employers want.

MSCTC serves about 9,200 students annually on campuses in Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Moorhead and Wadena and through online coursework.

While M State’s Detroit Lakes campus still offers traditional two-year programs such as accounting and nursing, the college has steadily increased its offerings of new and improved programs to meet the needs of the 21st century workforce.

M State offers more than 100 career programs and liberal arts transfer degrees. The college is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, which comprises 32 state universities and community and technical colleges serving the higher education needs of Minnesota.

“We are realigning our strategic framework to address three areas,” said Tom Whelihan, interim provost for M State-Detroit Lakes, “to ensure access to an extraordinary education for all Minnesotans, to be the partner of choice to meet Minnesota’s workforce and community needs, and third is to deliver to students, employers and tax payers the best value and most affordable education option.”

This includes offering Associate of Arts degrees, especially designed for smooth transfer to a four year institution.

The addition of the A.A. program became possible with the merger of the Fergus Falls Community College with the Detroit Lakes, Moorhead and Wadena campuses of the former Northwest Technical College.

With that merger, the institution became a comprehensive community and technical college and the A.A. degree became the equivalent of the first two years of a four year degree.

The idea is for students coming out of high school who don’t yet have a career in mind to get their generals through a transferable program that provides low class sizes and lower tuition.

In the past six years, M State’s transfer options have continued to greatly strengthen, giving students the option of studying closer to home before solidifying four-year goals.

A.A. degree-level courses in English, math, science, history, speech, political science, psychology, art, sociology and introduction to humanities are among the classes offered.

But that doesn’t mean MSCTC-DL is planning a complete shift away from its technical focus.

Online programs have also bolstered the school’s growth, as non-conventional students flood the web, hungry for educational opportunities that fit into their schedules.

In addition to the transfer degree, the Detroit Lakes campus also manages eight other online programs in their entirety.

These include radiology technology, web development, network technology administration, IT or information technology support, administrative management technology, paralegal and entrepreneurial A.A.S.

M State is also placing more emphasis on working with other community entities throughout the workforce and high school to better prepare local students for in-demand jobs in the region, whether it be working more with adult basic education, a school-to-work program at the high school or professional mentors.