UMPI blazes new pathway to completion with launch of flat-tuition

Officials with the University of Maine at Presque Isle have announced a new degree pathway for adult learners that gives them the ability to earn their college degree in just a few years for under $10,000: a Competency Based Education Bachelor of Business Administration (CBE BBA) degree, to be offered online beginning in Fall 2017. UMPI is the first public university in New England, and one of a small number across the country, to offer such a CBE degree program.

“There are an estimated 200,000 adults in Maine with some college but no degree. Our new program is specifically designed to meet the needs of this group of Mainers, or any adults across the nation in a similar situation,” UMPI President Ray Rice said. “Participants can complete our CBE BBA at their own pace and they can save money both by getting college credit for their past learning and work experience and by taking advantage of the flat tuition rate we’re offering for in- and out-of-state students.

“No other bricks and mortar public school in New England is providing a fully-accredited degree pathway like this. UMPI is very proud to be a leader in this area, offering motivated Maine adults an opportunity to finish their degree on a schedule that fits their needs, with online programming and expert support that can be accessed from anywhere, and at a per-semester tuition rate that is the most affordable among all public higher education institutions in Maine and has the potential to be a fraction of traditional degree programs.”

UMPI’s CBE program aligns very closely with work initiated by the University of Maine System in 2012 to develop and implement a Systemwide plan to enhance baccalaureate degree attainment and completion by Maine’s adult and non-campus based citizens.

“Maine faces a silver tsunami as a vast generation of our citizens approach retirement,” James H. Page, Chancellor of the University of Maine System, said. “By 2025, our state’s economy will require 158,000 more workers with a postsecondary degree or credential than exist today. This critical workforce need will only be met if we are successful in advancing more Maine adults to degree completion.

“For many qualified adult learners, UMPI’s online Competency Based Education Bachelor of Business Administration will be the fastest, most affordable path to a fully-accredited degree that has ever been available in Maine. The degree program is innovative, it is responsive, and a true example of institutional leadership in our One University work to better serve the people and communities of Maine.”

With UMPI’s CBE BBA degree program, participants will be able to apply past college credit, other learning, and work experience toward their degree. After determining which competencies they still need to complete, an UMPI learning coach will create individual learning plans for students. Students will then be able to pay a flat tuition rate of $2,000 per semester—less than one-half of UMPI’s standard in-state tuition rate and one-third the standard out-of-state rate—and be able to take advantage of as many competency learning modules per term as they’d like.

Additionally, all materials and resources needed are embedded in the digital platform so there are no additional textbook costs or fees. The program is Financial Aid eligible; students may also qualify for the University of Maine System’s Adult Degree Completion Scholarship. Participants should be 24 or older, have the equivalent of a high school diploma, and some prior college credit and work experience. This Business degree has a concentration in Management and Leadership; an Accounting concentration will be forthcoming.

In establishing its new CBE BBA, UMPI officials worked with nationally recognized organizations leading the way in education innovation, such as C-BEN (Competency Based Education Network) and CAEL (Council on Adult and Experiential Learning), as well as numerous colleges and universities affiliated with these groups, industry leaders, and workforce development partners, and Sagence Learning, a recognized infrastructure provider of CBE programs.

“The University went through an incredibly thoughtful process in the last year and a half to create this program—we’ve worked very closely with Sagence, the online platform provider for our program, on determining all competencies that would be a part of this degree. We then took our existing Business degree program and mapped our courses to every competency, so that every CBE student meets the same program outcomes as our students in the traditional classroom setting,” Carolyn Dorsey, UMPI Associate Professor of Business Management, and Director of UMPI’s CBE program, said. “We’ve also ensured that they’ll have contact weekly with their learning coach to guide them through the learning process, and, upon graduation, they’ll receive a transcript that outlines the specific skills, knowledge, and abilities they’ve acquired by completing their competencies.”

A competency is defined as an individual capability, proficiency, skill, behavior, value or body of knowledge. For this CBE Business degree in Management and Leadership, that includes competencies such as: understanding change models and strategies; understanding cost-volume profit analysis; and having the ability to read and comprehend annual reports. When a student begins work on a particular competency, they will take a pre-assessment to determine which areas they already understand, and then the platform will automatically tailor their learning to the knowledge and skill areas they need to develop further in order to demonstrate mastery.

“This degree program truly keeps learner needs and employer expectations in mind. Students will be mastering competencies that they can apply immediately in the workplace, and employers will be getting workers with more advanced, quantifiable skill sets that better meet future workforce and economic development needs,” Dorsey said. “Our goal with this program is to provide a clear and affordable pathway that keeps workers competitive and meets employers’ needs regionally and nationally.”

For more information about UMPI’s new CBE BBA, fill out the inquiry form here or contact Carolyn Dorsey at 207-768-9584 or carolyn.dorsey@maine.edu.