Wednesday, December 16, 2009

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UT System Institutions to offer Fast-Track Bachelor’s Degrees

AUSTIN – A new online program that will allow former college students who didn’t graduate a chance to complete their bachelor’s degrees in a fast-track format from three University of Texas System institutions will launch in fall 2010.

The Bachelor’s Accelerated Completion (BAC) program will be offered entirely online from UT Arlington, UT El Paso and UT Permian Basin. Administered through the UT TeleCampus, the program will target adult students who completed roughly 60 semester credit hours or more and provide an accelerated pathway to obtaining baccalaureate degrees that include concentrations in up to three disciplines. Courses will be six to seven weeks long. Students from anywhere in Texas – or elsewhere across the country – will be eligible to apply for admission to the program.

“This program takes into account the time and financial constraints that many working adults must contend with, and provides a flexible, affordable avenue for thousands of students who never completed college to finally earn their degrees,” said David B. Prior, the UT System’s executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “At the same time, this program will help increase the state’s pool of college-educated workers, which has been a top priority in Texas for the last decade.”

Prospective students to the BAC program still will have to meet the institution’s admissions requirements before they can be admitted into the program, and students also can qualify for financial aid. Costs before financial aid will be $600 per three-hour-credit course, which means students could complete a semester’s worth of courses for as little as $2,400 in 12 weeks.

Faculty from the UT campuses at Arlington, El Paso and in the Permian Basin will teach the online courses through the UT TeleCampus. Initially, degree plans offered will be in humanities, university studies and multidisciplinary studies, but other degree plans will be added over time.
 
While the program will target prospective students with significant undergraduate credits, students who have relatively fewer credits may take required courses online or in traditional classrooms at universities or community colleges. UT TeleCampus staff will assist those students with planning and locating such courses.

The UT TeleCampus has established a user-friendly Web site to help prospective students select a degree plan. The site, www.bac2ut.org, also includes information about admissions, financial aid and academic advising.
 
“We believe this program offers extraordinary flexibility and affordability to adults, many of whom are working or are stay-at-home parents and likely would not have the time and resources to complete their bachelor’s degrees by attending face-to-face classes on a campus,” said Darcy Hardy, assistant vice chancellor of academic affairs for the UT System and executive director of the UT TeleCampus.

The Lumina Foundation earlier this month awarded the UT TeleCampus a $500,000 grant to help launch the program, which is expected to be self-sustaining within three years, Hardy said.

About UT TeleCampus
Founded in 1998, the UT TeleCampus mission is to extend the reach of the University of Texas System through quality online education. UTTC operates at the System administration level and partners with UT institutions to deliver online courses and degrees while also providing year-round support in the critical areas of student and faculty services, course development, technology and marketing. Since launching, the UT TeleCampus has served more than 86,000 student enrollments in more than 30 online degree and certificate programs.

About The University of Texas System
Serving the educational and health care needs of Texans for more than 125 years, The University of Texas System is one of the nation’s largest higher education systems, with nine academic campuses and six health institutions. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $11.9 billion (FY 2010) including $2.5 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. Preliminary student enrollment exceeded 202,000 in the 2009 academic year. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state's health care professionals annually. With more than 84,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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