Framingham State University and MassBay Community College will collaborate to offer a Continuing Education program that will allow students to obtain a bachelor’s degree from FSU for $28,000.
According to Executive Vice President Dale Hamel, there have been discussions with MassBay’s leadership “for a number of years” about establishing this program.
“The relatively simple concept has significantly expanded with many involved at this point, to now provide an avenue for the entire completion of a baccalaureate degree at this alternative location,” he said.
Dr. Scott Greenberg, associate vice president for academic affairs and dean of Continuing Education at Framingham State, said he has wanted to offer Continuing Education courses at the Wellesley campus since he started at FSU in 2000. “Unfortunately, that never came to fruition,” said Greenberg.
He added that Hamel recently suggested some alterations to his proposal, which would allow MassBay students to graduate with their associate’s degrees and remain on the Wellesley campus but receive their bachelor’s degrees from FSU. That proposal was accepted by the Board of Trustees at Framingham State at its last meeting.
He emphasized that this baccalaureate program is strictly offered by Framingham State University, although students can utilize resources and facilities at both campuses.
“They’ll be able to use the MassBay library and they’ll be able to use our library and other resources on campus, at FSU or MassBay,” said Greenberg.
He added, “Students in this program will have the same rights as any other Continuing Education student.”
Students will be allowed to join student clubs, activities and athletic teams as long as they pay the required student fees.
Framingham State professors will be teaching the bachelor’s program courses that are offered at the MassBay campus. He added that professors who are interested in teaching in the program will need a recommendation from their program coordinators.
He said a combination of tenure-track professors and part-time visiting lecturers will likely teach in the program. “It will be open to anyone who is currently teaching and who has expertise in the subject matter.”
MassBay Director of Admissions Lisa Slavin said, “That is not to say that a MassBay faculty member could never teach a course … but if a MassBay faculty member was teaching one of the FSU courses, they would be hired by FSU to do so.”
According to Greenberg, one of the reasons this degree will be so affordable is becausethat MassBay is not charging FSU rent for the use of the classrooms. “We can pass that savings then onto the students.”
The programs’ courses will take place during evening hours, and many of them will be hybrid courses, which combine online and in class meetings.
Hamel said that the cost of the degree, $28,000, “is just the cost of tuition and fees projected over a four year period.” He added the degree is discounted significantly because much of it is being covered by MBCC.
Normally there would be a fee dedicated to “general college operations,” covering utilities, capital costs, classrooms and support space. Hamel added the fee discount will amount to $60 per credit hour and $4,000 over the course of the program.
Greenberg said students will be paying per course and it is likely that many students will be taking two or three classes per semester, although they are able to take up to four.
“The program was specifically designed to make a college education more affordable and more accessible to more people,” he said.
This program is offered by the Continuing Education department. Therefore, it is geared toward non-traditional students, according to Greenberg. However, “we are welcoming everyone.”
Hamel said, “When we can provide additional opportunities and options for students that can assist them in achieving their specific goals, it is a worthwhile endeavor.”
According to FSU Associate Dean of Admissions and Director of Undergraduate Admissions Shayna Eddy, “Students who complete within the four years will enjoy the most cost savings and will benefit from the structured curriculum.”
Eddy added, “Framingham State is definitely on the receiving end. Students interested in this program must complete their [associate’s degree] at MassBay prior to enrolling at FSU, so our traditional high school recruitment strategies will not be in play.”
She said there has already been interest in the program. She has been working with Slavin to determine how they will market this program.
Hamel noted that administrators don’t anticipate that students enrolled in this program will participate with the same level of involvement in student activities as traditional matriculated students. Additionally, the program will “expand the geographical draw to commuter students along the Route 128 corridor.”
According to Hamel, for the time being, this program is offered for degrees in management and liberal arts. He said expansion of the program will be considered if the student enrollment shows promise.
Greenberg said these two degrees “tend to be the most popular programs for Continuing Education students.” He added that adults tend to be attracted to both of these majors due to the prior learning assessment that is offered by FSU.
Prior learning assessment allows students to receive credits toward their degrees based on prior experiences. Greenberg said up to 32 credits can be received for any of the following “experiential learning”: work experience, travel, self-directed study, military experience and non-credit programs.
Greenberg said anyone is able to submit a portfolio to be reviewed by three FSU faculty members who then determine the number of credits that should be allotted.
According to Greenberg, “It is a major initiative in the country right now to get more adults to complete their college degrees.” This program provides an incentive to return.
Slavin said academic advisors at MassBay will work with interested students and eventually fill out intent to enroll forms, which will allow MassBay to provide FSU with their academic records. She added this form will double as their applications to FSU.
Slavin said that financial aid will be provided separately by each school. Students who are enrolled at MassBay for their associate’s degree will receive financial aid if they are eligible. She added that when students are technically enrolled at FSU for the Continuing Education bachelor’s program, they will receive financial aid from FSU if eligible.
Slavin said, “I am absolutely thrilled that this program has been launched. MassBay and Framingham State have always been great partners. … I think that current and new MassBay students will see this as a huge value and make earning their bachelor’s degree that much more obtainable.”
Greenberg said, “I’m looking forward to and excited about it. I think it is going to offer the opportunity for students to complete their associate’s degree at MassBay and continue on. … It has been a terrific collaboration between MassBay and Framingham State.”
According to Eddy, “Any time we provide more opportunities for the students in our community, it’s a good thing. Providing opportunities that are convenient and affordable benefits everyone.”
Junior Mary Saffioti said, “From high school, less kids will come to Framingham State. They’re going to see this option and go right to MassBay … but I guess kids who want the college experience are going to come to Framingham and enjoy the campus.”
Freshman Indigo Fox Tree-McGrath said, “This way MassBay can combined with Framingham State and now their students can actually get their bachelor’s instead of just their associate’s. So it works out better for people. People deserve an education.”
Freshman James Read said, “This means the people who didn’t necessarily have access to an education now have a way in. … A bachelor’s degree is really the best way to hone in on the particular talent which a person might have interest in.”
Senior Alex Fiorillo said, “I’m a commuter student myself. It would cut my commute in half. … I think it’s a great idea, it kind of allows you to get an education from two different places, which is a unique experience. I wish it were an option when I was applying to colleges.”
Junior Dominique Freeman said, “I’m not sure how actually effective it will be because of the whole accreditation system because people transfer here all of the time and their credits get messed up. People get pushed back into a different grade because of their credit standings. So I don’t know if MassBay has the same four-credit system but if it doesn’t, then it is pointless.”