Because of the changing demands in higher education, the School for Continuing, Online and Professional Education is adding new options for those seeking to take college courses or earn a college degree.
Dr. Beverly Cormican, BJU’s vice provost for strategic initiatives and the dean of SCOPE, said her goal is to look beyond the four-year curriculum and account for needs students face throughout their entire careers and find ways to support them.
“Traditionally, we think about the four-year degree, but what SCOPE is aiming to do is look at the 60-year curriculum,” she said. While SCOPE is probably familiar to most on-campus students through the classes it offers on BJUOnline, that is only a fraction of what SCOPE does. “We’re more than online; we’re continuing, online and professional education targeted at a different audience—an audience we haven’t reached,” Cormican said.
Besides core classes, master’s programs, certificate programs and degree completion programs—SCOPE is looking to build a portfolio of non-credit professional development programs. Cormican said, “This
SCOPE caters toward a “nontraditional market” for higher education. Rather than the typical span of several months it takes to enroll in a traditional college situation, SCOPE students typically enroll within weeks or days of their classes starting.
To help students make this quick adjustment, SCOPE uses a student services enrollment team. According to Cormican, this team helps people who have been in the workforce and out of academia for a time acclimate to changes in technology and readjust to being “in college” again.
Marketing is another key focus of SCOPE. “The way we market to this population is very different than how we market to resident [BJU] students,” Cormican explained. BJU’s central marketing team and SCOPE are working together on a plan to promote SCOPE programs, and SCOPE is even hiring a marketing liaison to represent its needs to the central BJU team, strengthening their working relationship.
Other goals of SCOPE’s service unit include building business development relationships outside of BJU and developing partnerships with local businesses and the military. The degree completion program represents the newest additions to SCOPE. This program exists to help people who started college but were unable to complete their degrees for whatever reasons.
Cormican said SCOPE attempts to network with employers to determine what type of careers are in greater demand. SCOPE added an RN to BSN nursing degree completion program in January and a Professional Studies program in September. The nursing degree program was added in response to employers’ requirement of RNs to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
The professional studies program was implemented in response to a survey of over 6,000 former students who attended BJU and couldn’t complete their degrees. Cormican said a chief advantage the Professional Studies program offers is the fact that it’s generic enough to be focused to include a variety of disciplines.
According to Cormican, the University has already received 80 inquiries about the program without conducting any marketing. Two other high-demand degree completion programs have also been proposed.
The newest program being considered by SCOPE is what Cormican refers to as “professional development” or “workforce development.”