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The Quest for the Perfect College Transfer Agreement

By Corey Murray

A budding partnership between Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County Community College and Drexel University gives students affordable access to a prestigious, private four-year education and shows how colleges are expanding options for students while finding new ways to reduce costs.

There’s nothing groundbreaking about articulation agreements between two-year colleges and four-year universities. Institutions of higher education have long partnered to create a seamless pathway for community college students interested in using their two-year educations as a springboard to four-year degrees.

But as a new partnership between Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County Community College and the private Drexel University shows, not all articulation agreements are created equal.

In an article for The Times Herald, reporter Eric Devlin describes a program that is focused on creating opportunities for students in pursuit of high-demand science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.

“Unlike traditional articulation agreements, Drexel@MCCC is a fully-integrated partnership through which faculty and advisors from both institutions work together with students in dedicated learning spaces to provide a seamless education experience,” the college explains in a press release. “The partnership extends to all areas of the institutions; libraries, facilities and students services are just a few examples.”

Alana Mauger, director of communications for MCCC, says the program does more than provide local community college students with a pathway to a prestigious university education — it also allows MCCC students to take Drexel University courses taught by Drexel professors on an MCCC campus, all at a cost significantly lower than what a student would pay to attend Drexel’s Philadelphia campus full time.

How it works

Say, for example, that a graduating high school student has ambitions to attend Drexel but doesn’t necessarily have the money to pay the full tuition. (In-state tuition can cost upwards of $30,000 a year, not including books and fees.) Through the Drexel@MCCC program, that student could enroll at MCCC instead.

The student would essentially take MCCC classes for the first two years, paying MCCC rates. (At about $153 per credit hour, assuming at least 12 credit hours, the cost would come to just over $1,800 per semester.) Assuming the student meets the necessary academic requirements defined by the program and earns an MCCC associate degree, the student could seamlessly transfer to Drexel for the remainder of his or her education.

Students in the program would continue to take courses on an MCCC campus and would receive a discounted tuition from Drexel of up to 25 percent for the final two years of enrollment, explains Mauger.

Administrators at the community college and the university say the program provides a way for the Pennsylvania-based institutions to work together to reduce costs, help more students complete college and meet local and regional economic needs.

“This partnership is an investment in the future: the future of our students, our institutions, and an investment in future of the greater Montgomery County region,” MCCC president Karen Stout said in the release.

STEM focus

The first tracks offered to students through Drexel@MCCC, which will launch this fall, will be heavily focused on STEM, business administration and criminal justice, because that’s where the most immediate employment needs are, Mauger says.

The six initial onsite programs include a B.S. in Business Administration with Co-op; a B.S. in Computing and Security Technology; a B.S. in Electrical Engineering with Co-op; B.S./M.S. in Engineering Management with Co-op; a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with Co-op; and a hybrid B.S.N. program designed for registered nurses.

A.S. to B.S. business administration and criminal justice programs will be offered online through a partnership between Drexel University Online and MCCC’s new Virtual Campus.

Administrators say students will have even more options as the program evolves in years two and three.

MCCC will soon transform its old physical education center into a new health sciences center, Mauger says. In year three, the program will include access to more health sciences programs “as our facilities will allow for that.”

In addition to MCCC, Drexel maintains similar agreements with Burlington County College and Delaware County Community College. It has offered degrees at South Jersey’s Burlington County College since 2006.

In the end, MCCC and Drexel University officials say Drexel@MCCC should give community college students in the region an opportunity to set their academic sights higher than they might have otherwise.

How does your college approach articulation agreements with its university partners?

Corey Murray

is editor of the 21st-Century Center.

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