By: Jonathan Lai, Philly.com
Students who receive their two-year associate degrees will soon have another avenue for completing a bachelor’s degree from New Jersey’s biggest public university.
Rutgers University, represented by executive vice president for academic affairs Richard L. Edwards, is set to sign an agreement Thursday with Mercer County Community College to allow associate degree holders to earn Rutgers degrees right on the county college’s West Windsor campus.
Rutgers’ Off Campus Program at Mercer is the fourth such program to be offered. The first, established in the late 1990s at Brookdale Community College, was followed by programs at Atlantic Cape Community College and Raritan Valley Community College. The program is not offered at Burlington, Camden, or Gloucester County Colleges.
Rutgers will begin offering three bachelor’s degree programs at Mercer’s campus in the fall to qualified county college graduates: political science; labor and employment relations; and, in nursing, an RN to BSN program.
“Enabling our graduates to pursue their bachelor’s degrees right here on the West Windsor campus opens the doors to opportunities that otherwise might not be available,” Patricia C. Donohue, president of Mercer County Community College, said in a statement.
Those graduates include a significant number of Bucks County residents who cross the river to attend classes at the school, said Jim Gardner, a spokesman for Mercer County Community College. Those students will now have the opportunity to earn Rutgers degrees without having to travel to one of the university’s campuses in New Brunswick, Newark, or Camden.
The Atlantic Cape Community College program has seen so much demand, the school said, that Rutgers opened a 22,000-square-foot “Lifelong Learning Center” there in the fall.
More than 500 graduates have been awarded Rutgers degrees through the programs, in which Rutgers faculty provide on-site, online, and hybrid courses. Students accepted into Rutgers receive full access to university services, including library resources.
On-site classes at Mercer County Community College will be offered in the evenings, Gardner said, which helps accommodate nontraditional students seeking a Rutgers degree.
“A lot of the students here are nontraditional students; some of them are going to school part time,” Gardner said. “This would enable them to still stay close to home and in many cases work full-time jobs, and receive their bachelor’s degree from Rutgers.”