There are more than 1.6 million Michiganders who have earned some college credits but have no degree to show for it. A new offering from the University of Michigan-Flint is taking aim at changing that. Beginning Aug. 29, the Accelerated Online Degree Completion program offers a quality education that acknowledges the realities adult learners and transfer students face. Online coursework, classes that offer in-demand skills, and scholarships of up to $8,000 will create new opportunities for career and educational advancement throughout the state.
Customized to meet student needs
"Institutions of higher education are not typically known for being nimble and moving away from the status quo. We are changing that perception with Accelerated Online Degree Completion," said Roy Barnes, UM-Flint professor of sociology and AODC program director. "This program offers students flexibility and convenience without sacrificing any of the quality or rigor that learners expect from UM-Flint."
In order to create that flexibility, Barnes said that AODC is offered in an entirely online asynchronous format. There are no set class times, meaning students can complete course requirements when and where it is convenient for them. Each course is seven weeks in duration (as opposed to 14 weeks in traditional programs) and students will generally take two courses at a time as opposed to one.
Students may have the opportunity to further reduce the time and money it takes to complete their degree through credit for prior learning. Panels of faculty experts will review professional certifications, military training, standardized test scores and more to determine if those learning experiences meet the exacting standards of UM-Flint curricula. Stephanie Martiny, AODC academic advisor, will guide students through this process.
Dedicated scholarships and support
Martiny, who has recruited and advised online students for close to a decade, knows what its like to be in college while juggling responsibilities. She had her first child while earning a teaching certificate and later completed a master's degree while raising three children. Those professional and personal experiences will allow her to knowledgeably guide students in every life circumstance.
"The wonderful thing about this program is that it works for so many different kinds of people," said Martiny. "I have talked with students from ages 23 to 62. Some of them are looking to advance in their current careers while others are looking to make a career pivot. Students are also looking forward to learning from the same professors who teach in traditional, on-campus programs."
While personalized advising and dedicated professors are central components of the AODC program, affordability is also key for degree completers. Students who enroll in the 2022-23 academic year are eligible for scholarships of up to $8,000. There are no GPA or income requirements as award determinations are based on when students enroll throughout the year.
Skills in-demand with industry
Students in the AODC program will earn a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies along with two of three integrated certificates: cybersecurity fundamentals, data analytics and interpretation, or digital communication. Each certificate offers skills in some of the fastest growing job sectors in the state.
Barnes has met with area employers to ensure these curricular offerings align with industry needs. He emphasized that every course in the AODC program offers students transferable skills.
"While specific content knowledge is undoubtedly important for career advancement, employers consistently state that attributes such as writing ability and critical thinking are crucial for new hires," Barnes said. "Each class incorporates integrative and reflective components that help students build these soft skills."
Applications open for fall
The first AODC courses begin Aug. 29 and applications are still being accepted. In keeping with the theme of flexibility, there are six start dates offered throughout the year–students interested in studying this fall can also begin on Oct. 20. Questions about the program can be directed to Stephanie Martiny at email@example.com.
Logan McGrady is the marketing & digital communication manager for the Office of Marketing & Digital Strategies.