New Accelerated Undergraduate Degree Track Launches
For adults who work full time and attend college part time, piecing together the course requirements to complete a degree can be a challenge. In response to the need for a faster route to a degree for some students, Northwestern University School of Professional Studies recently launched an accelerated undergraduate degree program in organization behavior: business leadership. For students who meet certain criteria, the program will provide them with the opportunity to complete their undergraduate degree in just two years.
A Broad, Real-World Curriculum
The degree program is based on the school’s interdisciplinary organizational behavior major, so there is a core of courses focused on the study of organizations, from social psychology to statistics to communication studies. However, the program also integrates business courses including:
- Finance and accounting
- Global business
- Research methods
- Technology and information
- Conflict resolution
“Aside from teaching students how to make sense of an organization, the curriculum capitalizes on work experience,” says Peter Kaye, PhD, assistant dean of undergraduate and professional programs at the school. “They can walk into work the next day and apply what they learned.”
Faster — and More Flexible
In just two years, students can have an undergraduate degree in hand if they have some prior college credit or credit earned through the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). Their final years are then completed in a carefully designed two-year track program that blends online components with classes that meet on alternate Saturdays. The pace is accelerated, but it frees up more time for students to manage their personal and professional demands.
“I like having the weekdays to unwind with my wife and kids and do homework,” says Jim Becker, a current student who decided to earn the undergraduate degree even though he already owns a successful business. “You have to push yourself, but you have support.”
Ensuring Success: The Cohort Model
That support comes in the form of the program’s cohort model. The same group of students moves through the program collectively for support and collaboration on projects. The cohort model enables the accelerated pace — and it’s often what students value most.
“We’ve found that the cohort model works really for adult students,” says Kaye. “Students tell us it really sustains them through the challenges of working and returning to school later in life. They end up forming really strong bonds.”
Practical and Intangible Benefits
If you’re already working, is it worth going back to school for your undergraduate degree? What if you’re still not sure what you want do? According to Kaye and current students, the program is just as valuable to career changers as it is to those already working in some type of business environment.
“It’s a richer framework for giving students an idea of what they might be doing in other fields,” explains Kaye. “And it’s a degree from Northwestern, so they’ll have more open doors and more people willing to talk with them. Their cohorts are often powerful links to job leads and other important connections. It also opens up the possibility of graduate school, and many choose that path. ”
But most important, says Kaye, is the confidence that completing the degree can have.
“Students who return to finish their degree as adults sometimes have ambivalence, self doubt, or worry about their academic abilities.But we see a transformation when students start succeeding; they have more talent then they gave themselves credit for and there’s a sense of accomplishment that spreads to their entire family. Most students could never have imagined what a difference the degree has made in their lives. So yes — it’s worth it.”
Article by Linda Behzad