Despite having decades of experience, some teachers are rushing to get a master’s degree to stay qualified as colleges morph into degree-granting institutions.

A quiet rivalry has always existed between colleges and universities, one promising practical courses, the other, theoretical, some long-time college faculty members have said.

But as more and more colleges offer degrees, the pressure is on for people like Mary-Lu Zahalan to shore up their resumé with academic qualifications.

“In the big picture, this will be the best thing that ever happened,” said Zahalan, an instructor with Sheridan College’s music theatre-performance program. She went all the way to Liverpool’s Hope University to get a master’s in popular music with a focus on the Beatles.

There are six colleges in Ontario with applications before the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities for new or revised degree programs. Among them is Sheridan College.

The ministry grants a degree program to a college after it’s recommended by the Post-secondary Education Quality Assessment Board. The board reviews the proposal by examining the content of the college program, its resources and its faculty.

Zahalan would have kept her job without the master’s, but would have had to give up her role as the head of the commercial performance department she helped create.