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THEC approves new degree

February 12, 2001

Last week, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission approved Austin Peay's proposed bachelor's degree in professional studies--one of only two such degrees offered in Tennessee. (The other is a bachelor's degree of independent studies offered at the University of Memphis.)

The degree is an exciting option for students who have completed their technical studies and want to enhance their leaderships skills and marketability.

"By attaining this new degree, people in technical fields can improve their administrative skills and move into middle management," said Gerald Beavers, interim director of APSU's Center at Fort Campbell.

Dubbed "an inverted two-plus-two" program, the new degree turns the established approach to earning a four-year degree on its head. Students take career-specific courses first, followed by general education courses. And they can take the first two years at a technical or community college.

"Students can get a construction, auto tech or related degree at another school, then we give them the upper-level classes in general education and the liberal arts," Beavers says. The result: a person who's technically proficient and has more finely honed critical thinking skills.

Because there are a variety of programs leading to the associate of applied science degree, the curriculum for the bachelor's degree in professional studies is diverse and highly individualized. Each student who enrolls in the program will meet with University officials to design a program of courses needed to earn the degree.

Students bring approximately 64 hours of credit classes from their associate of applied science degree and take another 64 hours toward a bachelor of professional studies degree. They must take a total of 34 hours of general education courses and nine hours of liberal arts electives.

An additional 30 hours in a professional studies core--which includes courses in business, management, personnel, information technology and other areas--also is required.

Our goal is to increase the general education of these students," Beavers says, "to expand their educational horizons."

The program should be in place by July.