Shoreline Community College has always had strong ties to the University of Washington and today’s announcement of the UW’s first online-only degree reinforces that relationship.
“The UW’s new degree program aligns perfectly with our expansion of online offerings,” Shoreline President Lee Lambert said, adding that Shoreline’s mainstay, two-year Associate of Arts degree is already available online. “Students will now be able to start online at Shoreline and achieve a four-year, University of Washington degree, completely online.”
The UW on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 announced its first online-only bachelor's degree, the Early Childhood and Family Studies program. While final approval is still pending, UW officials expect the program to start fall quarter, 2013, with applications opening May 7 and classes starting Sept. 25.
"This is a very exciting development in the use of technology to meet critical educational needs that otherwise might be difficult to do in a more traditional educational setting," UW President Michael K. Young said at a news conference in Seattle. "The country is moving toward better education, training – and certification – for the teachers of our youngest students. This is an optimal way to ensure they have access to high quality education in a place and at a cost that makes sense for them.
“We will be doing more of this."
In addition to being available online, the new UW degree will cost $160 per credit for the 84 course-credit degree, significantly less than regular tuition rates. Shoreline’s cost is even less, generally ranging from about $86 to $117 per credit for online classes, not including fees. Students would generally complete the new UW course credits over two years, but must have a minimum of 70 college credits to be accepted.
“We share the UW’s vision that online degrees are a great way to expand access to quality higher education,” Lambert said. “We know there are about a million Washington residents with some college, but no degree. It is vision and cooperative efforts like this that can help bring people the education they need for a better life.”
In addition to aligning with the UW program, Shoreline is also offering a “reverse transfer degree” to students who leave for the UW before completing a 90-credit, two-year community college degree.
“The University accepts our credits as part of their degrees, there’s no reason why Shoreline shouldn’t accept UW credits for our degrees,” said James Jansen, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. The reverse transfer concept is new, Jansen said, adding that Shoreline is currently developing an application and transcript review process.
UW Educational Outreach will administer the new program and received a Next Generation Learning Challenges grant partially funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help offset costs of developing the degree. The grant includes offering several core classes in early childhood education free to the public, as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on the Coursera platform.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 25 percent growth from 2010 to 2020 in the employment of preschool teachers. Head Start requires 50 percent of its teachers to earn bachelor's degrees, while other national and state programs use teachers' degrees to gauge the quality of their early education services.
At Shoreline, in addition to the general transfer degree online, a number of education-oriented degrees and certificates are offered online.
“Our Associate in Arts Elementary Education degree is online and part of the state’s direct transfer agreement with the UW and most other in-state colleges and universities,” said Ann Garnsey-Harter, director of Shoreline’s Virtual College. “We also have an Early Childhood Educator/Paraeducator Associate in Applied Arts and Sciences degree, a Child Care Professional certificate and a Child Care Basics certificate. All of those are available online, right now.”
In addition, Shoreline has the Parent-Child Learning, an operating day-care center that also serves as a learning lab for students, and seven parent cooperative preschools across the north end of King County. Parents in the co-ops earn college credit for their participation.