News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

December 12, 2013

ISU gets approval for unique program

School would be first in state to offer applied science BAS degree

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana State University has received approval to offer a first-of-its-kind program in the state: a bachelor’s degree in applied science.

The program will enable students with associate’s degrees in applied science (AAS) from community colleges to apply those technical credits toward an ISU bachelor’s degree.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education approved the new bachelor’s degree completion program Thursday. ISU will offer the degree in two tracks — technology and health sciences.

In the past, AAS degrees from community colleges would not transfer to programs at four-year universities.

Thousands of Indiana residents have completed, or are pursuing, AAS degrees, said Richard “Biff” Williams, ISU provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“This new bachelor’s degree completion program can go a long way toward helping the state achieve its goal of increasing the number of Hoosiers with four-year degrees,” he said. The new program “can make Indiana State a leader in Indiana and the nation.”

The new bachelor’s degree completion program is good news for Andrew Cockrell, a disabled veteran who was injured in Afghanistan during his second tour of duty in Operation Enduring Freedom. He had hoped to be a career soldier.

The injury brought an end to those plans.

Now, he is close to completing an Ivy Tech AAS program in agriculture. But he also realizes that he needs a bachelor’s degree to secure a more promising future for his wife, two children and four stepchildren.

In the past, that would have meant starting over at Ivy Tech or at another college or university.

ISU’s new program means he can complete his bachelor’s more quickly and at less cost. He’s interested in the technical track and also plans to minor in unmanned systems.

“That’s going to be a good, long-term approach for me, to get into technology within the agriculture field,” said the 32-year-old from Terre Haute.

“Technology is such a big part of agriculture,” Cockrell said. “I feel this will be a strong area for job security and growth.”

In wanting to pursue a bachelor’s degree, he also wants to set a good example for his kids.

ISU will offer the degree online, and students will need to complete only 60 credit hours to graduate, said Ken Brauchle, ISU dean of extended learning.

Even though the program will be delivered online, courses will incorporate activities that will require students to communicate and collaborate on projects, Brauchle said.

Students who choose also can take courses on campus, if the courses are available in a classroom setting. Cockrell prefers attending class rather than online courses.

Brauchle noted that AAS degrees tend to be more technical and don’t have as strong a general education component as an associate’s degree.

With the bachelor of applied science degree, students will take upper division general education courses, as well as more specialized classes in their field.

Those who pursue ISU’s new BAS program may want to get into administration or managerial roles, whether in health care or technical fields, Brauchle said. Part of the goal is to “round out their education.”

The BAS will help students fulfill their career goals by acquiring more advanced skills, he said. At the same time, they will add more general skills necessary for success and advancement in the workplace.

“I think the program has quite a bit of potential” and can serve Hoosiers throughout Indiana, Brauchle said. It was designed as a distance program because many of those who will benefit have jobs and families and can’t travel to ISU to pursue higher education.

The technology track is multidisciplinary and encompasses the entire college, as opposed to being specific to any single department, added Robert English, interim dean of the ISU College of Technology. The degree requires the completion of a minor within the college.

The new degree won’t be offered right away, Brauchle said. It must first be approved by the North Central Association, an accrediting group. The intent is for the new bachelor’s of applied science to be offered starting in the fall.

Ann Valentine, chancellor of Ivy Tech-Wabash Valley, noted that more than 11,000 credit hours were transferred from Ivy Tech to ISU during the 2011-12 school year.

“We work closely with ISU to provide transfer agreements and opportunities for Ivy Tech students to pursue a bachelor’s degree. This new degree is a great option for our students to continue their education and open further career opportunities,” she said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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