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BYU-Idaho Offers More Efficient Path to a Bachelor's Degree online through BYU-Pathway Worldwide

Christmas - Dec 2020

Online education has become an indispensable mode of learning, catering to the diverse needs of students across the globe. In order to provide a more accessible and streamlined route to a bachelor's degree for its online students, Brigham Young University-Idaho and Ensign College, in partnership with BYU-Pathway Worldwide, have introduced a new option: a bachelor's degree that can be completed in three years, or in 90–96 credits.

These degrees are built upon three certificates: an introductory certificate, an intermediate certificate, and an advanced certificate, each encompassing 15 credits. All major learning outcomes for the degree are achieved within these certificates, eliminating the need for elective credits. This framework is often referred to as an "outcome-based degree."

“We were able to do this because of the way the online degrees are structured. Students take their certificates first, then the general education credits, and they do not get to the elective credits until the end. At that point, they have already met all the learning outcomes of the degree,” said BYU-Idaho Online Vice President Kendall Peck.

Online students who enroll in these new degrees will be able to achieve their academic goals without the added burden of elective credits, which may not align with their career objectives. This streamlined approach is expected to lead to greater self-reliance and earlier employment outcomes.

The significance of this approach becomes apparent when considering the demographics of BYU-Idaho and Ensign College online students serviced through BYU-Pathway Worldwide. Many of them live in developing countries and face financial challenges that make the pursuit of traditional degree programs difficult.

“Most of the students we're serving with these degrees aren't in the same circumstances as on-campus students, most are supporting a family, many are in developing countries, many are struggling to get by, let alone pay for college credits,” Peck said.

These degrees represent a progressive approach to education, catering to the unique needs and challenges faced by online learners, particularly those in economically disadvantaged circumstances.

“To add additional elective credits to students under those circumstances, when they already achieved all the learning outcomes for their degree and are ready for future employment, just didn't seem right for the students that we're serving,” Peck said.

Students served by BYU-Pathway who are pursuing these degrees will have the opportunity to achieve their academic goals without shouldering the financial and time constraints of traditional programs. This approach aligns with BYU-Idaho's mission to make education accessible to all, especially those facing financial challenges.

Peck highlighted the numerous benefits of this new learning option.

“The benefits are a shorter path to a bachelor's degree while still being employable. It will still help them achieve their goals but will be less of a burden on them financially and timewise under their circumstances,” Peck said.

To ensure the value and recognition of these degrees, BYU-Idaho and Ensign College worked with their accrediting body, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), to gain approval. These degrees are accredited bachelor's degrees and will be viewed in the job market and by graduate schools as equal to traditional four-year degrees.

“In terms of career preparation and the outcomes that are core to the degree, it is the same,” Peck said.

BYU-Idaho offers five bachelor's degrees through BYU-Pathway Worldwide within this new degree framework: Applied Business Management, Software Development, Applied Health, Family and Human Services, and Professional Studies. Two additional bachelor’s degrees are offered to BYU-Pathway students through Ensign College: Communication and Information Technology.

Online students pursuing these degrees will continue to have access to the same array of student services and support as their counterparts in traditional four-year online degrees. This commitment to support ensures that the overall educational experience remains consistent.

These degrees, fully accredited and designed with care and attention, are poised to offer a more accessible and streamlined path to a bachelor's degree for students served by BYU-Pathway Worldwide while continuing to uphold academic rigor and quality.

With these new degrees, BYU-Idaho can make a significant impact on the lives of online students, empowering them to achieve their academic and career goals while fostering self-reliance and earlier employment outcomes.

Online students can begin the new degrees as of April 2024.