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Degree Completion Programs: Flexible & Responsive

02/16/16

It’s been nearly a year since MCLA’s first group of degree completion program graduates crossed the stage to accept their bachelor’s degree at the 116th Commencement.

This cohort of adult learners – early childhood educators whose Bachelor of Arts degree in interdisciplinary studies for early childhood educators meets state Department of Early Education and Care requirements – took only two years.

It was just the beginning.

Just a few months later, two new groups of students started their own two-year journeys toward finishing their bachelor’s degrees when, last fall, MCLA launched its Bachelor of Science degree completion program in business administration, as well as a second Bachelor of Arts degree completion program in interdisciplinary studies; this one with a focus on leadership.

According to Howard “Jake” Eberwein III, Ed.D., dean of graduate and continuing education, MCLA created these degree completion programs with the needs of working adults – including those who may have families – in mind.

“These very flexible and responsive programs provide a pathway to earning a bachelor’s degree that reflects the demands and the pressures that adults have in their lives – whether that’s family constraints, financial constraints, or just timing around one’s daily work schedule,” Eberwein said.

Created by MCLA in response to the growing need for a highly trained workforce, this program is helping to build an economically stronger region through education with degree completion programs that provide both opportunity and access.

Here in Berkshire County, social service and non-profit industries enjoy a strong presence. Leadership – a core value at MCLA – is a valuable quality for students as they prepare to serve in a wide range of roles throughout the region. In addition, the local demand for business degrees is great.

As a result, MCLA created the degree completion program in business administration, as well as the program in interdisciplinary studies. All of the degree completion programs place a focus on leadership.

“Adults really want relevancy in their curriculum,” said Barbara Emanuel, director of degree completion programs. “Leadership definitely provides that.”

Each program is offered in a cohort-style learning format, meaning students begin their course of study with a group of their peers and proceed through the program together. Classes are offered one night per week in the evening, as well as online. This further helps students to meet the demands of work, family, and their studies. 

“The opportunity to go to class just one night a week really works for people,” Emanuel said. “The other benefit is they take two classes per semester, so they’re able to get financial aid and go to school on a part-time basis.”

Students take one class at a time – one class for seven weeks – for a total of two classes each semester. This allows them to focus on one class at a time. With this schedule, most students complete their degrees within two years.

“The other thing that’s great about the program is that we offer prior learning credits for work and life experience,” Emanuel added. “So, students can come to us with between 45 and 60 credits, and we can fill in those other credits with the prior learning experience.”

In addition to students in our new business administration and interdisciplinary studies/leadership programs, two additional cohorts of early childhood education students continue in their studies. A fourth group of early childhood education students will begin their studies this fall, along with the second cohorts of business and leadership students.

For more information, go to http://mcla.edu/Academics/continuing-education/degreecompletionprograms, or contact Emanuel, (413) 662-5576 or b.emanuel@mcla.edu.