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Historical EKU - Professional Education

Establishing the Normal School

The Kentucky General Assembly of 1906 enacted legislation establishing the Eastern Kentucky State Normal School. Governor J. C. Beckham signed the bill into law on March 21, 1906. On May 7 of that year, the Normal School Commission meeting in Louisville selected the campus of the old Central University, founded in 1874 in Richmond, Kentucky, as the site of the new school. On June 2, 1908, Ruric Nevel Roark was chosen President of the Normal School and the training of teachers was begun.

Becoming a Four-year Institution

In 1922, Eastern Kentucky University became a four-year institution known as the Eastern Kentucky State Normal School and Teachers College. The first degrees were awarded by this institution in 1925. In 1928, the College was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. In 1930, the General Assembly renamed the school the Eastern Kentucky State Teachers College. A graduate program was approved at Eastern in 1935 leading to the Master of Arts degree in Education. In 1948, the General Assembly removed the word “Teachers” from the name of the college and granted the college the right to award nonprofessional degrees.  The most significant day since its founding came for Eastern on February 26, 1966 when Governor Edward T. Breathitt signed into law a bill renaming the institution Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) and sanctioning the awarding of graduate degrees in academic fields other than education.

As a University

During this period of time, Eastern Kentucky University has increased rapidly in size and stature. Beginning with a few students engaged in short review and certificate courses, the University today serves thousands of Kentuckians. The curriculum leads to associate degrees, baccalaureate degrees, and an expanding graduate program that currently offers degrees at the master’s level in many other fields as well as the already well-established Master of Arts in Teaching and Master of Arts in Education degrees and the various sixth year and leadership certification programs in education. Specialist degree programs have been implemented in education and psychology.


In 2008, EKU offered its first doctoral degree, the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.). Since that time, EKU also offers the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), the Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) and the Clinical Psychology Doctorate (Psy.D.). Ever mindful of the purpose of its founding, Eastern continues to recognize its historic function of preparing quality teachers, administrators, and other school professionals.  A strong liberal arts curriculum together with content courses, a professional education core, and clinical courses enables Eastern to serve the Commonwealth as a regional comprehensive university.

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