New online bachelor’s degree and certificate programs at Penn Arts and Sciences’ College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS) are giving adult students flexible options to pursue a college education and advance their professional skills.
The programs are being offered through the newly launched Penn LPS Online platform. According to Nora Lewis, Penn Arts and Sciences’ Vice Dean of Professional and Liberal Education, “the goal of this new platform is to make an Arts and Sciences education more accessible, flexible and affordable for working adults. Penn LPS Online’s degrees, certificates and courses will provide a stimulating environment for those who wish to foster creative pursuits, master essential workplace skills or complete an accredited degree.”
The new Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) degree is designed for working adults and other non-traditional students. The program combines general education requirements and interdisciplinary concentrations. Students will be able to complete nearly all of the program requirements online—a format that, Ms. Lewis notes, opens up opportunity for many adult students who would otherwise be unable to pursue liberal arts study. Ms. Lewis says that the program, which was designed by an advisory board of Penn Arts and Sciences standing faculty, is also distinctive for its emphasis on connecting a liberal arts education to professional and career outcomes. This will be accomplished, in part, through requirements like developing an e-portfolio of work completed throughout the program and completion of a capstone project.
Steven Fluharty, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, commented that the new degree is “unique among our peers and places Penn at the forefront in creatively meeting the expanding need for adult education in the liberal arts.” The program, he added, is also breaking new ground in the way the school is engaging with employers. An advisory board involving management executives from over 20 regional, national and global employers is working with LPS to advise their staff on workforce trends and the skills necessary for students to be successful in their careers.
In addition to the BAAS, Penn LPS Online is launching for-credit certificate programs. Initial offerings include programs in leadership and communication, creative writing, and professional writing, with additional certificates in applied positive psychology, data analytics, modern Middle Eastern studies, and climate change scheduled to launch over the next year. Students will have the option to take single courses or to earn the certificate by completing four courses. Each course is designed and developed by Penn faculty to be highly interactive, including ongoing feedback from instructors and peers.
Both the certificate and degree programs are building upon years of experimentation with online teaching by Penn Arts and Sciences faculty. Peter Struck, Professor of Classical Studies, has taught online at Penn for more than 15 years, and says it has been an amazing experience.
“The technology has advanced to a point now where new things are possible,” says Struck, who is also chair of the Arts and Sciences Online Faculty Committee. “We’re not just trying to replicate what happens in a live classroom, but to innovate a different kind of education around the unique possibilities of an online environment.”
The certificate program classes will be open to high school and college graduates beginning in September 2018. The BAAS degree program will begin accepting applications on September 12, 2018 and officially launch in fall 2019. Further details can be found at Penn LPS Online.