Though it shares its name with a town in Pennsylvania, Pittsburg State University is actually a smaller public university located in Kansas. Established in 1903, the school originally opened as a branch of a normal school that operated in the state. Normal schools offered diploma and certificate programs to students planning to work as teachers. As the Midwest and states further west had a high need for trained teachers, these schools were fairly popular. Ten years after opening, the school became a college and began offering degree programs. After moving its focus beyond teaching, the college became Pittsburg State University to reflect that it was a university with multiple programs rather than a teaching college.

U.S. News and World Report included PSU on two of its top lists. The university appeared at number 87 on a list of the top public colleges in the Midwest for graduate programs. It later ranked at number four on a list of the most affordable colleges to get a graduate degree from in the Midwest. U.S. News and World Report also gave the university high marks because its graduates left school with less debt than students at other colleges did. More than 1,100 students now enroll in the PSU graduate school each year.

Pittsburg State University Accreditation Details

There are several different types of accreditation available to colleges operating in the United States. Those levels include national, regional and specialty accreditation. The United States Department of Education recommends that students pay more attention to regional accreditation rather than national accreditation as national accreditation can come from paid institutions and organizations. The accreditation process requires that colleges go through a series of steps and processes, including meeting with members of the accrediting organization, preparing documents and allowing representatives to meet with faculty and students. Most organizations require that colleges renew their accreditation at least once every 10 years or less.

Pittsburg State University has accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, which is a division of the Higher Learning Commission. The NCACS and HLC are also responsible for renewing the accreditation of the university on a regular basis and ensuring that the school still provides the best for its students. The Kansas Department of Education also granted the university approval for many of its education programs, and those programs also have accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Eight different organizations across the country granted PSU accreditation for some of its specialty programs as well.

Pittsburg State University Application Requirements

Pittsburg State University requires that all students applying to its graduate school have an undergraduate degree and fill out an application. Though most students do this online, the university also allows students to mail in a paper application, which is available for download on the school's website. The application includes sections on the student's background, educational history and current address. Students must also sign and date the application or agree that they answered questions truthfully. Those who complete the application online can also create an account that lets them stop the application and complete it later.

Those entering the educational graduate programs at PSU, including those entering one of the online programs, will need a minimum of an undergraduate degree. Unlike other colleges, PSU does not require that applicants have a degree in education or teaching, nor does the school require that students have a teaching license before starting their classes. Some of its graduate programs, including its MA teaching program, do require that students have at least one year of experience in an educational field. PSU graduate programs may also require two or more letters of recommendation from professionals who taught or worked with the student applying in the past.

Tuition and Financial Aid

PSU ranks as one of the most affordable colleges in the country. It offers a program known as the Gorilla Advantage Plan, which lets students from Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas enroll in classes and pay the same rate as local students do. All students pay a flat rate, which lets them take a full course load for one fee. Graduate rates for students living in the state or taking part in its plan pay around $3,600 per semester. Students taking classes online from outside of Kansas pay around $8,500 each semester. PSU estimates that graduate students will spend $1,000 each semester on textbooks and other supplies.

Students applying for college often name cost as one of the largest factors that determine where they go and where they apply. Those students must keep in mind that they can find ways to pay for college that will reduce the costs they face. Scholarships and grants are both types of free money. Students can inquire about scholarships available from the school and apply for scholarships from private and public organizations. They may qualify for one or more grants from the government too. Loans are the most common way in which students pay for college, and based on their education level, they can borrow either subsidized or unsubsidized loans.

Online Degrees Available

PSU is unique because it offers an online Master of Science in Education that students can specialize in several areas, including educational leadership, educational technology, reading or teaching. Specifically designed for those who want to teach, the teaching MS program allows students to specialize as a Teaching English as a Second Language or teaching special education students. The reading program prepares students for working with students who suffer from developmental delays and learning disabilities that might make reading harder.

The educational leadership and technology programs are among the more popular online programs offered by the university. The educational leadership program gives students the experience and skills they need to lead and inspire others. Graduates work as superintendents, principals, college professors and in other professional fields. Students interested in how teachers use technology might enroll in the educational technology program. This program focuses on both how designers create technology for classrooms and how teachers use software and products in their classes. Many programs include some type of classroom component that gives students some real life experience before they graduate. Pittsburg State University can help students find programs of this type where they live, but students can also contact the university after finding a local school or school district willing to work with them.