Program Designed to Address Louisiana’s Low Percentage of Adults with College Degrees
BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana’s first online degree program designed for adults who stopped out of college sprang into action this month when the first students logged on and took a big step toward their college degree. The program’s launch coincides with the Lumina Foundation’s report that shows Louisiana is second to last (49th) in adults (25-64 years old) with a college degree at 27.9 percent versus the national average of 38.7 percent.
The University of Louisiana System’s Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership is a 100 percent online degree offered jointly by the nine UL System campuses. The accelerated program makes it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in five, eight-week sessions.
Students who enroll in the organizational leadership degree can choose from nine distinct concentrations in a variety of fields:
- Cultural and Arts Institutions at the University of New Orleans;
- Disaster Relief Management at Southeastern Louisiana University;
- Financial Services at the University of Louisiana at Monroe;
- Foodservice Strategies and Operations at Nicholls State University;
- Health and Wellness at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette;
- Human Relations at Grambling State University;
- Project Team Leadership at Louisiana Tech University;
- Public Safety Administration at Northwestern State University; and
- Strategic Global Communication at McNeese State University.
Postcards will be going out in the next few weeks to 22,000 former students of UL System schools to inform them of this online option to completing their degrees.
“The goal is to reach out to Louisiana residents who have some college credit but no degree. There are over 545,000 in the state and about 22,000 who took classes at UL System schools in the past decade,” said UL System President Sandra Woodley.
“We want to help them get their degrees. The beauty of this program is its convenience for non-traditional students. It’s possible to take classes anywhere, any time,” she continued.
There are 26 students admitted in this initial session. However, the UL System expects the program to grow as more people become aware of its convenience and affordability. Among the characteristics of the online program:
- The degree consists of 30 hours of courses offered jointly by faculty at the nine universities and 30 hours of concentration and elective courses offered by each UL System institution.
- The program can be completed in two years, with students charged a flat per credit hour rate of $325, well below the cost of other online degree programs.
- The online platform is seamless, and the cost is uniform across concentrations and universities.
- To enter the program, students must be at least 25 years old and have completed 60 hours of college credit including general education courses. However, students with less than 60 hours have opportunities to earn credit online or through prior learning assessment that gauges skills learned on the job.
- UL System schools share faculty, staff, technology, and other resources.
A benefit of the program is that students can enroll at virtually any time of the year, as opposed to traditional programs, which primarily require students to start at the beginning of fall, spring or summer semesters.
“We know it’s not easy to go back to college,” Woodley acknowledged. “These older students have significant responsibilities – full-time jobs and families to support. But our message to them is that it’s worth it. It’ll be the best thing they’ve ever done – for themselves and their families. They’ll be glad they did it.”
Woodley pointed to reports that show college degrees yield higher wages and earnings, afford more job opportunities and fortify graduates against economic downturns, like the recent recession.
“Based on the mean earnings of adults with bachelor’s degrees versus high school diplomas, if all 22,000 individuals with some credit from a UL System school secured a degree, it could create about $592 million in increased wages annually,” Woodley said. “Can you imagine what that might mean in a local and state economy, not to mention how it would change families? It would be tremendous. And then our studies show most of our graduates stay in Louisiana. So the benefits would stay here too.”
To view the Lumina report, go to http://www.luminafoundation.org/stronger_nation/report/. For more about online degrees for adults and the Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership, visit www.YourCALLla.org and www.ulsystem.edu/OL.
ABOUT THE UL SYSTEM: The University of Louisiana System is the largest higher education system in Louisiana enrolling over 92,000 students at Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and the University of New Orleans.