Southern Maryland Higher Education Center

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The Southern Maryland Higher Education Center (SMHEC) was established by State legislation in 1994 in response to the expanded role of the U.S. Navy at Patuxent River; to provide on-site and complete access to quality graduate education degree programs in a Region historically underserved by Higher Education institutions; and to support the economic development of the Southern Maryland Region.

SMHEC presents graduate degree programs in their entirety at its 24-acre campus facility in California, St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Working with the leadership at the Patuxent River Naval Base, public schools administrators, economic development agencies, and the technology and defense support community, the Center selects academic programs and universities that meet the professional development needs of the Tri-County Region. The Maryland Higher Education Commission approves all degree programs for presentation at SMHEC.

SMHEC is under the guidance of a Board of Governors appointed by the Governor of Maryland.

Degree Programs

SMHEC hosts almost 70 graduate university degree programs and almost 20 bachelor completion degree programs, presented in their entirety at SMHEC by eleven university partners in the professional fields of engineering; education; management; clinical and community counseling, and school counseling; criminal justice and law enforcement; information technology; business administration; engineering technology; technical management; communications; and human resources, financial, health care, marketing, and project management.

Training for Secondary Educators and Heal Care Professionals

A shortage of teachers is a condition the three public school districts in Southern Maryland continually face. To assist the need for new teachers and to provide continuing education and professional development for teachers, the Center offers 18 master’s degrees in education, two post-master’s certificates in education and five certification programs.

Master’s programs in nursing and social welfare, and a completion bachelor’s degree in nursing, provide an opportunity for the Region’s health providers to further develop the professional skills of their workforce in these fields, and to assure the most recent processes and skills are available for the social and health benefits of the Region’s population.


SMHEC is located on its own 24-acre campus within the Wildewood Professional and Technology Park in California, St. Mary’s County, Maryland. The site is six miles north of the Patuxent River Naval Base, and even closer to the 250 technology companies located in Lexington Park and California. Prince Frederick, the county seat and urban center of Calvert County is about 20 miles away, and Waldorf, the business center of Charles County, is about 35 miles away.

SMHEC’s Classroom Building One, with 15 classrooms and two multi-purpose rooms, opened in 1995. Classroom Building Two, with 21 classrooms and two multipurpose rooms, opened in 2003. A Third Classroom Building and Conference Center is in its planning phase and is expected to open in 2010.

Each SMHEC campus building has its own unique features, all designed to offer the highest quality, technologically sophisticated, student service-focused graduate learning and professional training available in Southern Maryland. Ongoing campus expansion is in response to the growing and urgent need for suitable space to meet the high-level conference and meeting needs of the high-tech economy in Southern Maryland, particularly the Patuxent River Naval Base, and for appropriate facilities to provide professional training, and to deliver an expanded program of graduate education opportunities.

University Partners

SMHEC’s university partners include:

  • Johns Hopkins University
  • University of Maryland College Park
  • University of Maryland University College
  • George Washington University
  • The Catholic University
  • Towson University
  • College of Notre Dame of Maryland
  • Coppin State University
  • Gratz College
  • Capitol College
  • Old Dominion University

External links