Kent State regional campuses give students the opportunity to earn two degrees

Victoria Manenti

Bachelor’s degree-seeking students enrolled at a Kent State regional campus will automatically receive an associate degree upon meeting requirements for either an Associate of Science or Associate of Arts degree effective spring 2015.

“There really are some benefits (to the degree),” Wanda Thomas, associate provost and dean of the Regional College, said. “On the regional campuses, we tend to have more students who sometimes are part time students and take a little longer to get through (college). When they have at least earned the midpoint of their baccalaureate, it can certainly be an opportunity for them if they’re already employed to maybe get a pay raise and or to increase their likelihood of getting a position.”

University officials were motivated by national research to implement the associate degree-awarding initiative. Thomas said studies show students who were awarded an associate degree were 30 percent more likely to complete their bachelor’s degree.

Thomas said students currently seeking employment would have a greater likelihood of receiving a higher paying job because employers will see students have completed half of the requirements for a bachelor’s degree. Associate degrees make students “more marketable,” she said.

“I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but I am excited to have two diplomas to put on my wall, so I think it’s a great idea,” said Gina Arroyo, senior nursing major at Kent State Stark. “I think its definitely going to be an encouragement to students to continue their education and to kind of get through that last leg of their schooling.”

Several institutions already automatically award their students with associate degree when requirements are met, including The State University of New York (SUNY), Thomas said.

Victoria Watson, sophomore communication studies major at Kent State Ashtabula, said an associate’s degree will also provide comfort to struggling students who may not be able to finish their bachelor’s degree.

“I have several friends who are absolutely thrilled with it,” Watson said. “They’re going to take it, and some of the them are going to actually graduate with that. It’s really been exciting to watch people who I have seen, you know, kind of struggling a little bit be so excited to finally have a degree.”

Students admitted through a regional campus who currently attend Kent State for a bachelor degree program can qualify for the automatic degree award. Students must also have at least 2.0 GPA with 60 credits of coursework completed and be enrolled in at least one course through a regional campus this semester, Thomas said.

Those who meet the associate degree requirements will receive a notification through mail, as well as a congratulatory email. Thomas said the associate degree will automatically appear on deserving students’ transcripts, unless they choose to opt-out of the program, which must be done by filling out appropriate paperwork.

Kent campus students will not automatically be awarded an associate degree. However, they can choose to opt into the program if their academic records indicate they have met the necessary requirements, Thomas said.

Thomas expects a follow-up report about the initiative to be released mid-May 2015.

Contact Victoria Manenti at [email protected].