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Iowa Community College opens Blended Bachelor's Degree Program

There has been a fair amount of academic teeth-gnashing over the future role of community colleges in this country's educational hierarchy. President Obama's higher education initiative focuses in large part on community colleges, but leaves open the particulars of just how they are going to jack up the percentage of degree-carrying adults over the next decade.

One community college in Iowa has made an impressive start through partnership with the University of Iowa. The Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) is a six-campus institution with some impressive enrollment statistics: there are over 27,000 students seeking degrees through their campuses and an additional 33,000 enrolled in continuing education or business training classes.

Currently, the DMACC has a limited offering of online programs that includes two business administration degrees at the associate's level and one that is a general associate's in arts degrees. In addition they offer several non-degree programs, including a certificate in computer science and one in entrepreneurship.

This fall, DMACC is introducing a limited bachelor's degree program in partnership with the University of Iowa. Graduates with DMACC associate's degrees can continue into the pursuit of a bachelor's degree program either through continued attendance at one of the DMACC campuses, through online classes or via a blend of the two.

The blended nature of the program is important to the school administrators from both institutions, as they consider this pilot project to be an extension of the quality education provided at UI. The face-to-face component of the program will put DMACC students in contact with University faculty; however there are methods in the online component that provide similar contact. Online students will be required to take additional courses to complete the bachelor's program.

The University of Iowa degrees being made available through DMACC are bachelor's from their liberal arts school or a BS in applied science. The four tracks available include a general studies degree, a degree in justice studies, a nonprofit business degree an entrepreneurial management degree.

What the University of Iowa has done in signing on to this partnership is utilize a large, well established and well run undergraduate machine with plenty of facility support to expand its reach without a large capital expenditure. UI President Sally Mason is quoted in the school's press release as saying, "These degree programs extend the reach of the University of Iowa to all Iowans, which in turn increases the knowledge base of our state's workforce…We are pleased to partner with DMACC on this initiative."

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