On April 21st, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education approved Murray State College’s request to provide a bachelor’s degree in gunsmithing technology.

“We commend the Regents for their foresight and understanding that it’s all about student success in the classroom and their career path,” said Suzie Brewster, Murray State College Board of Regents Chair. “We appreciate their faith and confidence to look beyond us as being a two-year college to focus on the students. Murray State truly lives out its motto, From Here, Go Anywhere, by equipping their students for success.”

To continue with the implementation process, a substantive change application must be submitted to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) to receive change request approval. Murray State officials are developing new admissions policies and rates that are required for a bachelor’s degree offering. Pending HLC approval, Murray State will begin admitting students to the program this fall.

“This addition will be a game changer for us,” said Chad Mercer, Murray State College program chair. “Students who want a career in the firearm industry are able to come to Murray State and receive the training, from a nationally-recognized program, that they need to advance.”

Murray State’s gunsmithing program started in 1979 and has continued to evolve to meet the industry’s needs. By offering a bachelor’s degree program, students will now have the opportunity to develop unique skills for professional advancement.

This program addition will increase the college’s enrollment, which in turn requires more educational space. “When we began the process of adding this degree, we knew the functionality of the current facility was not up to industry standards,” said Murray State College President Dr. Tim Faltyn. “We have designed a concept plan for a new facility that will accommodate the growth of the program and meet the functionality of current and future industry requirements.

Murray State’s gunsmithing students acquire the knowledge and skills to compete in a highly-skilled workforce that is beneficial to area industry partners. This workforce program aligns with those needs.

By strengthening the rigor and depth of knowledge, and adding additional general education and leadership coursework, graduates with bachelor’s degree in gunsmithing will be eligible for federal employment and career advancement.

The United States Department of Energy is a frequent employer of Murray State’s current program graduates. However, in order to meet the employment qualifications for federal and state agencies, these graduates have been required to obtain a bachelor’s degree in another field. Now, the educational offerings with this degree are supporting the industry in a way they never have.

“I can’t thank everyone involved enough,” Faltyn said. “Our gunsmithing team; Director of Curriculum, Melanie Whitehead; and Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs, Becky Henthorn, did an excellent job of creating and highlighting a program that has such an excellent reputation. The efforts of so many in our campus community have made it possible for Murray State to make history as the first college in the United States to offer a bachelor’s degree in gunsmithing technology.”