UMSL Degree Acceleration, Flexibility, and Convenience Meet Higher Education Formats

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University of Missouri-St. Louis strives to meet changing student needs with different educational formats.

Students have a myriad of choices when they seek education from an institution of higher learning. They also enroll in higher education with different goals, such as to complete a degree, to gain professional development, or for personal enrichment. Colleges have had to adapt in order to remain competitive with local and nationwide options expected by students today. Degree acceleration, flexibility, and convenience seem to be the leading benefits a college must offer in order to keep pace with changing student needs.

"For the past three years, we've offered a degree-acceleration program at the beginning of January called the Winter Intersession that allows people who are working towards a degree to earn three credit hours in just two weeks," says Tom Walker, dean of the Division of Continuing Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. "In 2010, we will offer 20 courses in different disciplines. Most meet on campus, but some are online also. Winter Intersession has proven popular not only with current UMSL students but also with students who attend other universities but are at home in St. Louis for the holidays."

Degree acceleration is not the only factor that drives higher education formats. A university must also be flexible and offer convenience to its students. Some schools do this by offering customized courses to local businesses at locations and times that are convenient to their employees. After Express Scripts recently moved its headquarter to the UMSL campus, a partnership developed where UMSL offers accredited business courses at Express Scripts during the day or evening. "This arrangement helps employees of Express Scripts with professional development and allows them to brush up on their skills," says Walker. He added, "We also have partnerships with local community colleges and high schools that allow us to branch out and offer courses beyond the UMSL campus."

Institutions have also started offering courses online, a convenient option for many students. The online format allows institutions to offer courses to students on a national basis. A school in New York could advertise a program to potentials students across the country or even throughout the world, providing access to courses that students might not have an opportunity to take locally. "We've started offering many of our continuing education courses online and in a hybrid format, where students have the opportunity for face-to-face learning and online convenience," says Walker.

For more information about UMSL Continuing Education programs, visit For information about the UMSL Winter Intersession, visit


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