David Mariner, the Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, said the degree completion program at Waynesburg University brings in a great amount of students that have different backgrounds.
“I am excited with the launch and growth of our 100% online degree completion program. This program helps us reach populations that we may not otherwise be able to reach,”Mariner said. “We have attracted students with military backgrounds as well as working professionals in the Pittsburgh region. Our students are looking to advance their careers and want a quality learning experience.”
Adam Jack, chairperson for the Criminal Justice and Social Sciences department, associate professor of criminal justice and director of athletics, said the degree completion program is perfect for people that aren’t typically able to finish or get a degree.
“The degree completion program is a great way for a working professional to complete their bachelor’s degree, without having to leave the workplace to do so,” Jack said. “The program is completed virtually and can be done on the student’s schedule, based on their specific needs.”
Despite this program being all online, Jack believes that over the years, online learning has progressed in the right way to help advance the way people can learn for a degree.
“Online learning and virtual instruction has come a long way in the past few years, but I do believe that the degree completion program is a great option for those that cannot attend in person,” Jack said. “This program is not for the typical 18-22 year old student, but for the student that has credits and had to leave the traditional setting to go into the working world. It allows flexibility for them to complete the degree while working and tending to the other needs in their lives.”
As for the incentive for someone to want to take on this program, Mariner said getting a degree can be vital to the career field and that students typically need to advance their knowledge to open a new door for jobs.
“Students are also incentivized by the bachelor degree as well. Most students need a bachelor degree in order to advance their career. In addition, many of the degree completion students are realistically looking to complete the bachelor degree as a stepping stone to a graduate degree,” Mariner said. “Learning is a lifelong process. In today’s society, progression in almost any career requires investment in higher education. For many of your readers, this should be incentive to plan for the future as the bachelor degree opens doors into careers while graduate degrees provide opportunity for advancement. In many cases today, the masters level degree is required for entry and almost certainly for career progression.”
A question raised when thinking about online learning is its effectiveness compared to someone learning in a classroom. Mariner doesn’t think it affects them in any negative way, but believes that it could possibly be the new way of learning.
“Realistically, online education began in the 1990s. It has taken a few decades for higher education institutions to perfect the delivery of the content,” Mariner said. “But you will find that higher education institutions across the nation are investing in technology and the ability to deliver curriculum online. A student who graduates from an online program must accomplish the same requirements for degree completion.”