FAYETTE, Iowa (July 15, 2013) – Just in time for the program's 40th anniversary, Upper Iowa University has redesigned and renamed a popular option for earning a UIU degree as the "Self-Paced Degree Program." The program was born in 1973 as one of the first U.S. degree-by-mail programs and has gone by several names since then including Coordinated Off-Campus Degree Program, External Degree Program, and, most recently, Independent Study Program.
The UIU program has received more than a new name for its anniversary; it has been given some other updates as well. With the new self-paced program, students will be able to take courses either online through our web-based classroom or continue with the paper-based option. More than 100 three-credit courses are offered in the program. The Self-Paced Degree Program offers a Bachelor of Science degree with the option of 14 majors, an Associate of Arts degree, as well as five certificate programs, which all can be completed without an on-campus residency. Students can complete any course in as few as six weeks or take up to six months to complete each course.
Many of the self-paced students will now interact with UIU electronically through UIU's online learning management system to access course materials, submit assignments, and review grades. Those students who prefer, or who have limited or unreliable computer access, can continue to complete the courses through a paper-based system. The program provides maximum flexibility for students who want to work at their own pace.
"This is an outstanding program that has met with great success over the years," said UIU President William R. Duffy II, Ed.D., Ed.S. "The Self-Paced Degree Program is another learning experience option for our students to best meet their educational needs. The program has been especially important to students in the military who find themselves deployed to remote locations with limited access to technology for coursework. The Self-Paced Degree Program allows those serving our country to continue to pursue their educational goals regardless of where they may be located worldwide."
"As part of the University's Academic Quality Improvement Project, our committee assessed all aspects of the existing program to determine how we could make it a more effective learning experience for students," said Barb Schultz, assistant vice president for the UIU Center for Distance Education. "We concluded that adding a web-based option, while keeping the paper-based option, would create a more relevant delivery model and retain the most important asset of the program – allowing each student to study at his or her own pace. We also increased the enrollment periods to 12 per year."
"Maintaining the self-paced degree program is very important to us," Duffy added. "We will continue to seek out educational needs, leverage technology as much as possible, and seek out input from our learners and employers on how we can improve our offerings and services. The UIU Self-Paced Degree Program has continued to meet educational needs for incarcerated men and women. Research has shown that inmates completing higher education programs in prisons have reduced recidivism rates which results in less crime, lower costs to taxpayers, and safer communities. I commend our faculty, staff, and external stakeholders who have been involved with the redesign of this valuable distance learning option. The updated program will ensure we continue to provide outstanding academic quality and services regardless of the learning experience our students choose."
Implementation of the external degree program in 1973 was spearheaded by then-Vice President Charles Clark and former Registrar Roger Bowen. The program was the result of a two-year initiative in response to a Carnegie Commission challenge for U.S. colleges and universities to develop more relevant forms of post-secondary education. Clark and Bowen not only ensured the academic quality of the Coordinated Off-Campus Degree Program, they also developed a formula to earn a bachelor's degree through a combination of credits earned through CLEP exams, credits for work experience, and credits earned in classes both on and off campus. At one point, the program generated 10% of UIU revenue.
"I am very grateful to the founders of this program, which has helped thousands of students earn a bachelor's degree over the past 40 years," Duffy said. "Their insight into the needs of military students and others who needed a flexible option to take the next step in their careers still inspires the vision that guides the University today as we offer degrees through our off-campus centers and through online programs, as well as through self-paced studies. We had a terrific team of faculty and staff who spent the past year finding ways to strengthen this program so that it can continue to make a difference in our students' lives."
Registration in the UIU Self-Paced Degree Program is open at the beginning of each month. Financial aid, military tuition assistance, veteran's benefits, and military discounts are available. More information is available at www.uiu.edu/distance/selfpaced or by calling 800-553-4150.
About Upper Iowa University Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs and leadership development opportunities to some 6,200 students—nationally and internationally—at its Fayette campus and learning centers worldwide. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and independent study. For more information, visit www.uiu.edu.
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