College Degrees INTRODUCTION Many adults who graduate from high school immediately enter careers that do not require a college degree. Indeed, the majority of the adult population of the United States of America does not have college degrees. And the lack of degree is not a stigma. Vocations usually do not require degrees. Certainly the many trade vocations in the building industry do not require college degrees, but instead either vocational training, on-the-job training, and combinations of both. The same applies to manufacturing, clerical, retail, and service positions. And one does not need a degree, college, nor indeed high school, to become President of the United States, or any other elected official! A degree is usually required for professional positions, such as physicians, lawyers, engineers, scientists, accountants, teachers, among others. Many professions require advanced degrees, like masters, and doctoral degrees.
There may come a time, however, when an adult who is working full- time decides that it is time to pursue a college degree. There may be several reasons for such a conclusion. Many job descriptions in business and industry specify that a certain degree is required for advancement. Perhaps an airplane mechanic would like to be promoted to a management position that requires a college degree. Or a bookkeeper may wish to become an accountant. Or a nurse may desire a bachelor degree, beyond her R.N.
certification; indeed, more hospitals are now requiring that their nurses hold bachelor, and in some cases master degrees. How does a nurse, or bookkeeper, or airplane mechanic who is employed full-time pursue the required college course work that will lead to a fully accredited bachelor degree without taking up residency in a college full-time four years? FULLY ACCREDITED Fully accredited without residency is the objective of the pursuit of a non-traditional college degree. A college must be validated by one of six regional accreditation associations approved by the United States Department of Education in order to grant full accredited degrees. The six associations are: New England Association of Schools and Colleges Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Western Association of Schools and Colleges All of the colleges and universities in this country that offer fully accredited degrees do so by authority of one of the above geographical associations. There are several colleges that offer bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees that do not come under the authority of a regional accreditation association. Some of these colleges are authorized to offer degrees by the states in which they reside, mostly in California, Hawaii, Missouri, and Louisiana.
However, degrees from these colleges are usually not recognized as bona-fide by most business, industry, and professional organizations that require college degrees as a requirement for employment. Therefore, this report will deal with the limited number of colleges in the United States that will grant a fully-accredited bachelor degree without any residency requirement. There are many other colleges that offer alternate college degrees to adults, but have a short, medium, or extensive residency requirement. These colleges will not be covered in this report. For those interested in colleges with limited residency requirements, they will find useful a manual by John Bear, Ph.D., College Degrees by Mail, [See Recommended Reading at the conclusion of this report].
REQUIREMENTS FOR A BACHELOR DEGREE There are many Bachelor programs that can be pursued, among them: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Bachelor of Science in Applied Science and Technology, Bachelor of Science in Human Services, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and other programs that may be specifically designed by the student and college. Most bachelor programs include specializations, such as Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Bachelor of Science in Aviation. Usually, 120 semester hours of credit are required for a degree. Typically, one college course, like Algebra, is worth three semester hours. Therefore, it is likely that 40 courses, each worth three semester hours will be required for a degree.
This may sound simple, but it really isn’t. Virtually all colleges require proper distribution of credits. One cannot take 40 of the easiest courses and walk away with a degree. There are core subjects that are required, as English, Mathematics, History, Literature, Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy. English subjects include composition, and written expression; Mathematics include algebra, trigonometry, and perhaps calculus.
Each subject has several sub- subjects that may be required for proper distribution of credits. Following is a an example of credit distribution requirements for a Bachelor of Arts degree, whether traditional or non-traditional [see Appendix D]: Liberal Arts Requirements……………60 Written Expression 6 Humanities 12 Social Sciences 12 Natural Sciences & Mathematics 12 Liberal Arts Electives 18 Area Concentration or Specialization……..33 Free Electives…………………..27 So there are no short cuts to an accredited college degree. As a matter of fact, non-resident college degrees may be more difficult than spending four years at a resident college. The reason is that independent study requires much self-discipline and motivation. When one attends a resident college, courses usually consist of 15 weeks of class study, in a classroom with an instructor.
At the end of a course there is a final examination, and the instructor grades the student including class participation, assignments, and interim test scores, combined with the final examination. There is always an instructor at hand, and the student has an indication of how she or he is progressing. Independent study therefore means that the you as a student are on your own, and will submit course work by mail, computer, or phone. Instructors are usually available for consultation, but it is time consuming, especially since most students who pursue independent study have full time jobs. Most educators agree that non- traditional degrees from accredited institutions of higher learning are achieved by motivated scholars with a high degree of self discipline and determination. HOW CREDIT IS EARNED I.
LIFE EXPERIENCE LEARNING After emphasizing that there are no short cuts to an independent degree, it should please you to know that you may already have knowledge that can count as course work. Non-traditional colleges usually award credit for life experience, work experience, on-the- job training, military service, and testing programs. This will be determined when you register and submit a portfolio that will be evaluated by the college. For instance, a Registered Nurse may be awarded as many as 60 credits toward a degree. This is half the degree requirement.
A Licensed Practical Nurse may already have 30 or 40 credits. An airplane mechanic 50 credits, a bookkeeper 60 credits. II. EQUIVALENCY EXAMINATIONS The recommended non-traditional colleges in this report will accept successful completion of college equivalency examinations toward a degree. The most popular examination is the College Level Examination Program, or CLEP offered by the College Entrance Examination Board, P.O. Box 6600, Princeton, NJ 08541-6600.
There are about 30 subjects that may be taken by CLEP, and each college has its own criteria for passing grades. CLEP tests are not easy, and you must really know your subjects well. Indeed, after taking a CLEP test, you may discover that class work is easier. But thousands of students pass CLEP tests every year. Bookstores sell course guides to help students pass CLEP tests. III. MILITARY COURSES Active military personnel have the opportunity to participate in the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support, …