Professional and Continuing Studies Offers Accelerated Degree Programs for Non-Traditional Students

Jun 19, 2015
Since its inception in 1869, Claflin University has offered high-quality academic programs at its main campus in Orangeburg, S.C.  Nearly a decade ago, the University’s Center of Professional and Continuing Studies (CPCS) began classes at Fort Jackson Army Base in Columbia.  And in the fall of 2014, Claflin launched its online degree program, which provides students balancing families and careers the convenience of earning a Claflin degree without attending classes in Orangeburg or Ft. Jackson-Columbia.

Claflin’s Fall 2015 semester begins August 17 and Dr. Cindye Richburg, executive director of the Center of Professional and Continuing Studies, is looking for potential students who realize it’s never too late to achieve their goal of earning a college degree. Richburg was appointed two years ago after working at Morris College.  She served as director of the management institute-advance program, a degree completion program for non-traditional students.

“Claflin is embracing new digital and online delivery tools to make educational opportunities available to students wherever they are and whenever they need it,” said Richburg. “Our broader reach is contributing to the American dream of access and availability of education to an increasing population.”

Claflin’s Fort Jackson location at the Army Continuing Education Center offers bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice and organizational management.  Claflin Online also gives students an opportunity to earn bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice and organizational management and master’s degrees in business administration (MBA) and education in curriculum and instruction.

In an effort to increase awareness and enrollment through the CPCS,  partnership agreements were established with Blue Cross and BlueShield and its subsidiaries, Midlands Technical College, Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College, S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice, Palmetto Health and its affiliates, Richland School District 2, Richland County Sheriff’s Office, Orangeburg

School District 5, Sumter County Sherriff’s Office, Fort Jackson Military Base, and Sysco -- a global leader in the distribution and marketing of food products.  These agreements include “Partnership Scholarships” that provide tuition assistance and discounts for their employees.

“We looked at agencies, industries and two-year colleges we believe are attracted to the majors within the program” said Richburg.  “We anticipate growth in developing partnerships and our enrollment because the benefits to students who complete our programs are almost immediate.” “They can use their new credentials to acquire a promotion in their current position or start a whole new career.”

Bank of America and the Bernard Osher Foundation have established endowments for need-based scholarships and tuition assistance, specifically for Claflin’s non-traditional students. Federal and state financial aid, scholarships from organizations such as the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and other tuition-support programs are available to non-traditional students if they meet the requirements.  Military personnel are also eligible for scholarships and tuition discounts.

“The non-traditional student is quickly becoming the traditional student,” said Richburg.  “Many of them want to finish what they started 10 – 20 years ago.  Claflin is on the forefront of accommodating the needs of those students.  We are offering courses through the various modalities and exploring various delivery methods to bring education to a greater number of students.”

Claflin’s accelerated degree program allows transfer students to complete the program within 18 months if they have passed all of the core courses in their major and met all of the general education requirements to graduate.  Starting in the Fall 2015 semester, the program will go to an expanded eight-week format opposed to the five-week sessions from previous years.

“We looked at best practices and in comparison, the eight-week sessions give students more time to recover from a family event or an emergency,” said Richburg.  “The new format gives them more time to digest and learn the information.  We also distributed surveys which indicated this is what students preferred.  Some of the students felt the five weeks were too stressful and too condensed.  The faculty is satisfied too, because it gives them more time to prepare course materials, as well.  But the program completion time of 18 month stays the same.”

Although non-traditional students rarely live on campus, they are not restricted from participating in campus activities or being members of various student organizations.

“Although the primary reason these students return to school is to earn a quality education, they also want to be involved in campus life as much as possible,” said Richburg.  “They are eager to join sororities, fraternities, clubs and organizations, participate in study abroad programs or be inducted into honor societies. The non-traditional students are afforded the same opportunities and privileges enjoyed by all Claflin students.”

The CPCS coordinated a short-term study abroad last spring, as 12 Claflin students travelled to London, England. The purpose of the trip was to compare the differences and similarities between the British and United States criminal justice systems.

“Previous continuing studies students at Claflin did not participate in study abroad programs,” said Richburg.  “The students visited the House of Parliament, the Royal Courts of Justice, the Tower of London, Scotland Yard Police Department, and Buckingham Palace and observed proceedings in the House of Lords and the House of Commons.  Another purpose for the trip was to bring a global perspective to the CPCS and our non-traditional students. Claflin is producing visionaries for the global community. We want these students to realize they are a part of the Claflin’s mission.”

For more information on Claflin’s professional and continuing studies department and programs offered in Orangeburg, Fort Jackson-Columbia or online, call (803) 535-5573 or email crichburg@claflin.edu.

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