Beginning this fall, UNLV’s College of Liberal Arts (COLA) will offer a new degree program for students who, for various reasons, have successfully accrued a large number of credits yet have fallen just short of completing the requirements for a specific degree.
The Bachelor of Arts in General Studies program is designed for students with at least 90 academic credits but no clear path to graduation.
About 8,000 UNLV undergraduates from the last 10 years meet this criteria, said Denise Tillery, associate dean for students in the college.
This program will help them enjoy the rewards of their previous investment in their college education. They’ll finally be able to see their successes in the classroom come to fruition.
“We wanted it to be a straightforward pathway for students in those circumstances to take these two classes, get their bachelor’s degree, and then go on with their lives,” she said.
“A lot of them may already be working full time but can use this credential to get into a graduate program or get a promotion or raise, or maybe it is for personal fulfillment.”
Students may have amassed 90 to 120 credits but not be close to graduating for many reasons, including switching majors several times or not meeting with academic advisors to finalize their graduation plans, Tillery said.
Eligible students will take two online classes — one in fall (IDS 250 ̶ Introduction to General Studies) and one in spring (IDS 450 – General Studies Capstone) — unless additional general education or other courses are needed. The capstone course is a culminating experience in which students demonstrate their learning across various disciplines.
The program is not meant to be a default pathway for students but a specialized route for those who need additional assistance to finish a degree. That’s why strict safeguards are in place to ensure the right students enroll, she added.
Organizers see offering the program as a public service that will help raise graduation rates in Southern Nevada. Planning has been underway for several years with then-associate dean Jennifer Keene and Wilson Advising Center director Cheryl Tillotson taking the lead to research the program’s feasibility and review other universities’ models.
Earning a degree is especially important for UNLV’s large population of first-generation students, said Keene, now dean of the college. “We know every degree has significant impact on individuals, their families, and the Southern Nevada community. It is a form of social justice that people who have invested in their education receive something in return.”
Enthusiasm for the program is high. “If we could get even 10 percent of these students to the finish line that would be a great thing. We want people to be able to walk away from their UNLV experience with a degree,” Tillery said.
Tuition and online fees apply for the two interdisciplinary courses, but there are no other fees associated with the program.
For more information, contact the Wilson Advising Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-895-1997 or Tim Gauthier, associate professor and director of multidisciplinary and social science studies, at email@example.com.