BC3 Campus

BUTLER TWP — Students at Butler County Community College will have more opportunities to complete a four-year degree at several universities without ever having to leave the BC3 campus.

At a luncheon Wednesday afternoon, college officials announced several new degree completion partnerships, which includes new programs at Chatham, Robert Morris and Penn State-Shenango.

"We’re taking a giant step toward lowering the cost of a four-year college degree," said Bill O’Brien, vice president for continuing education and off-campus sites. "Today, we are giving our students the opportunity they have asked us to pursue for many years, and that’s the opportunity to finish their four-year degree right here on this campus."

BC3 is introducing new partnerships at Chatham University with a BSN in nursing; at Robert Morris University with an organizational leadership degree; at Franklin University, in Columbus, Ohio, with a business administration degree; and at Penn State-Shenango with a general agreement with students at the BC3 Linden Pointe satellite.

New online agreements also have been established for Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz., and Bellevue University in Bellevue, Neb. "There’s a wide range of students this can reach," said Francie Spigelmyer, vice president of academic affairs. "This doesn’t just have to be the students that are already on campus, already in a program."

She said with the majority of BC3 students — 70 percent — transferring to four-year schools to complete degrees these new programs can be a game changer.

"The degree completion partnerships enable us as an institution to redefine our transfer mission as we try to meet more workforce and employment needs. And that’s one of the unique pieces to this," Spigelmyer said.

Other partnership programs have been in place at BC3 and are continuing: at LaRoche with a psychology degree at the Lawrence Crossing satellite; at Clarion with an accounting degree; at the University of Pittsburgh with an administration of justice degree; at Youngstown State University with a social work degree; and various online degree programs at Franklin University.

Representatives from the universities with new or existing partnerships also attended the luncheon.

"This speaks for BC3 students who want to go beyond," said Ron Nowaczyk, provost for academic affairs at Clarion. "It’s just like you’re sitting on campus (in Clarion)."

Clarion also has plans to introduce an online master’s degree in accounting in the fall, further promoting the accounting program it offers BC3 students.

Degree partnership programs also will have an established home on campus at the college’s Student Success Center. Each of the degree completion partnership universities will offer classes on campus, usually bringing their university professors to teach students.

Under the 2:2 program, students would pay the BC3 tuition rate for the first two years of school and they pay the partnering university’s tuition rate for the following two years.

However, some programs will accept more than 60 BC3 credits, or offer a discounted tuition rate to students, making their programs even more affordable.

For instance, Robert Morris, Chatham and LaRoche all offer their programs at reduced rates. Other universities, Franklin, Bellevue and Grand Canyon, will accept more than 60 credits, which also lowers the cost.

BC3 President Dr. Nick Neupauer said the new programs allow more opportunities for students who may not have considered the school before. "It’s a creative way to bring more students through our doors," he said. "They can get the full four years here."

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