MOUNT VERNON — Starting in January, Brewton-Parker College will offer a business degree for students to complete according to their schedule.
The Bachelor of Business Administration in General Business will be the school's first fully-online degree program. Through it, BPC intends to provide an educational opportunity for a growing segment of the population.
The degree, noted President Steve Echols, will allow the college "to reach out to an additional audience." That step, he continued, will be towards BPC's "purpose to see the lives of students transformed academically and spiritually for the glory of God."
Preparation began a year ago, stated Bob Brian, provost.
"We're excited," he said. "One of the things we did is create a new academic division: Online, Developmental, and External Programs."
Division Chair Lynn Addison referred to the timing around the degree's implementation.
"[It's] the perfect time for the college to expand our liberal arts curriculum and opportunities for spiritual transformation of others," she noted. "All students who enroll in our online BBA in general business will benefit from personal relationships with the faculty and other students.”
Addison's comments match findings on the need for more post-secondary educational opportunities.
The Great Recession led many to rethink their vocational footing. Because of that, many of today's first-year college students have families and a full-time job. What they don't have is a chunk of time during the day to sit in a classroom. They join the 18 percent increase of college students age 25 and over from 2015-2025, projected by the National Center for Educational Statistics.
One way to help those students get back on solid ground comes through online learning.
Classes for the B.B.A in General Business are set up in eight-week sessions, explains the Brewton-Parker's FAQ section on the degree. During each session students typically take two courses. However, speed of completing the degree depends on several factors. For instance, the amount of previous course work or number of courses taken could affect one's schedule. Other areas for students to consider are computer requirements and ordering textbooks.
Brewton-Parker developed the B.B.A. in General Business for completion in four years.
Students must meet their coursework for a particular week. Aside from that, logging into the class and for how long is up to the them.
"This flexibility allows you to schedule your school work around your life rather than ... your life around your school work," the FAQ section noted.
The price to take the course stands at $285 per credit hour. However, BPC Vice President for Enrollment Services Chris Dooley said there are options to offset the cost.
"If somebody is a a Georgia resident and receives the full Pell Grant and Georgia Tuition Equalization Grant, these will pay for their tuition. It could really be a bachelor degree free from student loans," he explained.
Steps in securing financial aid are also available at Brewton-Parker's website.
Right now, the program is awaiting final approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Once that approval comes through as expected, the degree will become available to Georgia residents. At that point BPC will begin looking toward more online options for students.
Upon receiving SACSCOC approval, the college's next step is to apply to the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. This will allow Brewton-Parker to offer the degree to non-Georgia resiidents.