Are you one of the 31 million Americans with some college credits but no degree? Is missing a bachelor’s degree holding you back professionally? Do you have military or work experience that can translate into college credit? Then check out the Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies degree—a less expensive alternative to traditional bachelor’s degrees. Thanks to the Department of Education’s support of innovative new degree programs, you can earn a Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies by combining free and low-cost online courses such as MOOCs with your own prior learning and transfer credit.
How does it work?
The Bachelor of Professionals Studies degree, or BSPr, is being offered through a new Kaplan University school known as Open College, or OC@KU, and the concept is simple. You first work with an OC@KU advisor to discover how to take your college credits and combine them with your work experience to gain additional credits. Then you determine how many courses you need to complete your bachelor’s degree. Together, you’ll develop an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) which maps out your focus area and goals. (The BSPr is a generalist degree, but you can focus your studies in any area you choose.) At least 25% of your credits must come from coursework that happens while you’re enrolled in the OC@KU, and up to 75% can be from other institutions.
Here’s how you earn college credit from free- and open-courses like MOOCs: OC@KU has permission to confer credit to anyone who can demonstrate that they have met the stated course objectives for an existing Kaplan course. So if, for example, your ILP states that you need to earn four credits in a basic accounting course, you can go out and learn the required material on your own using any resources you choose—MOOCs (free college courses), podcasts, iTunes University, etc.. OC@KU will help you locate the open education resources you need, and you can search the database of sites like LearningAdvisor.com that aggregate thousands of free and low-cost online courses and video lectures into one convenient directory. When you’re ready to turn your learning into credit, you take an exam or develop a learning portfolio that proves you’ve met the stated course objectives, and voilà—the credits are yours.
How much does it cost, really?
Rather than charge a per-credit tuition fee, OC@KU is a subscription-based service. For $195 per month, you‘ll have access to an advisor and all the resources you need to develop your ILP, determine course objectives, and locate the classes you need to take. Each course assessment you take for credit will cost $100. The total price of the degree depends on how many credits you ultimately need to earn, but according to Drew Ross, Dean of the OC@KU, it can cost around $10,000 for a student bringing in one to two years’ worth of college credit and generally no more than about $16,000 for students starting with no previous credit at all. By comparison, a four-year degree at a university could cost upwards of $60,000.
What kinds of previous credit can I earn?
If you have some college credit but no degree, like the 31 million Americans who were identified in a 2014 National Student Clearinghouse report, you can transfer those credits directly into the BSPr degree program to save yourself time and money. If you already have an associate’s degree, all your credits are transferrable as well. Experience from military training, on-the-job experience, and even volunteer work can earn you further college credit that will accelerate the degree process.
Who Is The Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies Degree For?
The Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies is perfect for anyone who needs a bachelor’s degree to move forward in their current job, or to enter a new field that requires a bachelor’s degree of all applicants. For example, someone who has been working in an industry for years and wants to move up into management, but needs a bachelor’s degree to apply, is a good candidate for this program. People who have always wanted to earn a college degree, or who already have an associate’s degree, college credits but no degree, or prior credit from work and life experience will also find this program puts an affordable bachelor’s degree within their reach.
Finally, successful candidates for this degree will be self-motivated, independent learners. OC@KU will help provide you with the resources you need to earn your Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies, but you will ultimately be the driving force behind this new self-paced degree program. Dr. Peter Smith, founding president of the college, summed it up best when he said, “OC@KU is a learning concierge service that adds a new dimension to higher education.”