UWEC offers first online undergrad degree

Story by Ben Rueter

This semester, UW-Eau Claire is partnering with UW-Extension, an organization that works with UW colleges to improve education, to offer a collaborative online degree program for students in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The degree program is called BPS or the Bachelor of Professional Studies Comprehensive Major in Organizational Leadership and Communication. This major will be the first online undergraduate degree to be offered at Eau Claire.

According to the BPS website, it is a full 60-credit major that is designed for students with a family, too busy to attend classes on campus, or those students unable to attend school for various reasons.

Senior Amanda Nausbaum showed interest in the new program.

“I’m actually really excited because that is actually the major I was looking for. And since I took a leave of absence, if I can finish this around my home, it’s perfect,” Nausbaum said.

The BPS website states, the program will combine business, communication, information literacy, leadership skills, computer science and arts and sciences courses.

Dr. Kate Lang, academic director for the BPS degree program, said that those who enter will have the equivalent of an associate arts and science degree once they complete the coursework. Dr. Lang’s role with the major is to overlook the courses in the degree. She is also the advisor for students that are enrolled in the major, and plays as the academic liaison between UW-Eau Claire
and UW-Extension.

Lang said that the degree is designed to help those who want or need another option to obtain a degree. Also, she said it allows for those who are very close to achieving a degree in arts and sciences. The amount of adult workers that are not able to come to campus for classes is a population that Lang said Eau Claire was not assisting very well.

“Some of the people that have applied and admitted are very close to having the equivalent course work,” Lang said. “People who are not close to having an equivalent to an associate arts and science degree we refer on to the UW colleges where they have all that course work online.”

Though UW-Extension works with all the UW colleges, the BPS major is only being offered in Eau Claire for the time being. Each of the UW colleges is responsible for their own curriculum. Whether similar programs to the BPS will appear at other  UW colleges is entirely up to those other UW campuses.

“Hopefully having a major that is online capable, more people will be able to graduate with the UWEC accreditation and it may open the door to more unique business majors,” Nausbaum said.

Lang said that the end result of a student going through this degree is to make them a better leader within their community — whether that community is local, national, or global.