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Many adults who graduate from high school immediately enter careers that do not require a college degree. Indeed, the majority of the adult population of the United States of America does not have college degrees. And the lack of degree is not a stigma.
Vocations usually do not require degrees. Certainly the many trade vocations in the building industry do not require college degrees, but instead either vocational training, on-the-job training, and combinations of both. The same applies to manufacturing, clerical, retail, and service positions. And one does not need a degree, college, nor indeed high school, to become President of the United States, or any other elected official!
A degree is usually required for professional positions, such as physicians, lawyers, engineers, scientists, accountants, teachers, among others. Many professions require advanced degrees, like masters, and doctoral degrees.
There may come a time, however, when an adult who is working full- time decides that it is time to pursue a college degree. There may be several reasons for such a conclusion. Many job descriptions in business and industry specify that a certain degree is required for advancement. Perhaps an airplane mechanic would like to be promoted to a management position that requires a college degree. Or a bookkeeper may wish to become an accountant. Or a nurse may desire a bachelor degree, beyond her R.N. certification; indeed, more hospitals are now requiring that their nurses hold bachelor, and in some cases master degrees.
How does a nurse, or bookkeeper, or airplane mechanic who is employed full-time pursue the required college course work that will lead to a fully accredited bachelor degree without taking up residency in a college full-time four years?
Fully accredited without residency is the objective of the pursuit of a non-traditional college degree. A college must be validated by one of six regional accreditation associations approved by the United States Department of Education in order to grant full accredited degrees. The six associations are:
New England Association of Schools and Colleges
Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Western Association of Schools and Colleges
All of the colleges and universities in this country that offer fully accredited degrees do so by authority of one of the above geographical associations. There are several colleges that offer bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees that do not come under the authority of a regional accreditation association. Some of these colleges are authorized to offer degrees by the states in which they reside, mostly in California, Hawaii, Missouri, and Louisiana. However, degrees from these colleges are usually not recognized as bona-fide by most business, industry, and professional organizations that require college degrees as a requirement for employment.
Therefore, this report will deal with the limited number of colleges in the United States that will grant a fully-accredited bachelor degree without any residency requirement. There are many other colleges that offer alternate college degrees to adults, but have a short, medium, or extensive residency requirement. These colleges will not be covered in this report. For those interested in colleges with limited residency requirements, they will find useful a manual by John Bear, Ph.D., College Degrees by Mail, [See Recommended Reading at the conclusion of this report].
REQUIREMENTS FOR A BACHELOR DEGREE
There are many Bachelor programs that can be pursued, among them: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Bachelor of Science in Applied Science and Technology, Bachelor of Science in Human Services, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and other programs that may be specifically designed by the student and college. Most bachelor programs include specializations, such as Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Bachelor of Science in Aviation.
Usually, 120 semester hours of credit are required for a degree. Typically, one college course, like Algebra, is worth three semester hours. Therefore, it is likely that 40 courses, each worth three semester hours will be required for a degree. This may sound simple, but it really isn\'t. Virtually all colleges require proper distribution of credits. One cannot take 40 of the easiest courses and walk away with a degree. There are core subjects that are required, as English, Mathematics, History, Literature, Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy. English subjects include composition, and written expression; Mathematics include algebra, trigonometry, and perhaps calculus.
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