Elizabethtown College’s adult accelerated degree program has recently added a master’s degree in business administration to its program.
This is the first graduate degree the Center for Continuing Education and Distance Learning (CCEDL) has offered. The MBA program is created for business professionals with at least three years of management/leadership experience. For students who already hold an undergraduate degree in business administration, the program will take about two years to complete.
The adult accelerated degree program was created by Dr. John Kokolus, the dean of CCEDL, in 2001 as a way to make college possible for adults. The usual 15-week college courses can be difficult for adults and can take years to finish. The accelerated program consists of five-week courses that meet once or twice a week, allowing students to finish in a reasonable amount of time so they do not give up on education. The program permits adults to take courses while still being able to maintain a full-time job and personal life. Students take one class at a time, which allows them to focus on what they are learning.
The original program of four staff members and around 90 students is extremely popular and continues to grow. Currently, there are 16 staff members and approximately 600 students. Barbara Randazzo, assistant dean of enrollment management for the Center for Continuing Education and Distance Learning, stated, “The program is small enough that students get personalized attention; they get an Elizabethtown experience, and that is very important to us.”
Students in the program have many different types of work experience, which results in a beneficial learning environment. Julie Walton, an alumna of the program and admissions and marketing coordinator for CCEDL, said, “I really enjoyed [the program]. It was very interesting going back to school, because it is a different environment geared toward adults, so you are doing a lot of papers, presentations and discussions. Students in the classroom brought their experiences from life, from their job and it put a different perspective on whatever topic we talked about. So that made it very interesting and very interactive.”
There are several different ways for students to take courses. One way is to take in-class courses, where classes meet once a week from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Another option is to take online classes, which do not require any in-class meetings, but do require students to post on the Blackboard website. Online courses work best for students who travel often or cannot leave their home. Blended classes are also offered, which means the class meets once or twice throughout the five-week course in a classroom while the rest of the class is online.
Courses for Etown’s Accelerated Adult Degree Program are offered at four different locations. This allows students to choose a location most convenient for them. Courses for the program are offered in both Lancaster and Harrisburg, in addition to York and on the main Etown campus.
The program offers seven majors of study: business administration, accounting, information systems, corporate communications, criminal justice, human services and human services-behavioral and addictions counseling. Students can work towards an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in any of these majors.
Admission requirements for the program include a high school degree or GED, 23 years of age (if younger, permission from the dean of the Continuing Education Department is needed), at least three years’ work experience and strong enough writing skills to be successful in an accelerated program. Applicants must also have sufficient time to devote to their coursework, as they generally spend 15-20 hours a week on coursework. Randazzo stated, “Adults make a huge commitment when they go back to school. It is very time-consuming on their families, on everything about their lives, but for them the pay off, the end result, is the achievement of the goal they have always wanted.”
Another great aspect of the program is its flexibility: courses are offered three times in the spring, twice in the summer and three times in the fall. If a student cannot take a class because of commitments at work or in their personal life, they can skip the class and pick it up five weeks later. This differs from normal college courses, which are 15 weeks long and have stringent attendence policies.
The program will accept credits from accredited schools. They understand that many adults have previously earned credits from other schools. The administration is willing to do whatever they can to bring in the credits for their students because the program values students who have worked hard for these credits. Financial aid is also available to adults in the program, who can meet with an admissions counselor to discuss it.