April 27, 2017
East Carolina University’s Bachelor of Science in University Studies is now housed in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. Chancellor Cecil Staton approved the Faculty Senate resolution to transfer the BSUS program into a collegiate unit. The transfer request, which originated in May 2016 with then-Chancellor Steve Ballard, was approved by Staton March 28.
Established in spring 2014, the BSUS is designed to be an academically rigorous, interdisciplinary and purposeful degree program for students seeking a course of study that lies outside of the traditional majors.
The BSUS program differs from Harriot College’s Multidisciplinary Studies Program. Multidisciplinary studies are geared for incoming freshman or sophomores who are out-of-the-box thinkers interested in tailoring their degree program, or concentrating in one of a few key areas that include classical studies, international studies, neuroscience and religious studies.
In contrast, the BSUS is intended for students in their junior year or beyond who have had a more divergent, longer academic journey. These may include transfer students, students who previously received an associates degree, or students who left college to enter the work-force and have returned to academic study on a part-time or full-time basis.
“Their journey has hit some road-blocks or bumps along the way,” said Stephanie Bailey, assistant director and academic advisor for the university studies program. “For whatever reason, they are no longer pursuing that previous program or have come to the university and realized their original plans weren’t possible. This [BSUS] could be a program to make something unique and career-driven.”
Prior to being accepted into the program, applicants work with Bailey, or other BSUS staff, on in-depth advising. Current staff of the university studies program include Dr. Gerald Prokopowicz, interim director; Ms. Stephanie Bailey, assistant director and academic advisor; Ms. Heather Weigand, lead academic advisor; and Jennifer Ward, administrative support associate.
According to Dr. William M. Downs, dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, a national search is underway for a permanent director of the program and he intends for the position to be filled by the beginning of the 2017 academic year.
With the staff’s assistance, incoming students identify career objectives and create a proposal for their course of study that must be approved by a faculty oversight committee before acceptance into the BSUS program.
Students must have completed 60 credit hours of coursework prior to declaration, have a minimum 2.0 GPA, and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA through graduation. The average GPA of students entering the program is 2.58.
“As you can see by the average GPA, these are academically good-standing students,” said Bailey. “We are able to talk with those students about their career goals, and maybe even get really specific about a job title or company, and craft a degree that’s going to allow them to be a desirable candidate for that field.”
Although advisors want students to pursue a traditional degree program that best match their goals, Bailey said the BSUS degree is an option for a variety of students and provides benefits to those who have hit previous road-blocks.
According to data collected by the BSUS program office, at the time students were admitted, 52 percent said they would have stopped school if this program did not exist and 48 percent said they would find a new major or transfer to another university.
Since the establishment of the BSUS degree program, through fall 2016, ECU has retained $9 million in tuition and fee revenue from students declaring a major in BSUS.
Over the course of the past three years, beginning with 4 graduates in the summer of 2014, the BSUS program has seen the successful graduation of 303 students through fall 2016, and currently, the program has 387 majors.
For additional information about the BSUS, visit http://www.ecu.edu/bsus. Anyone interested in declaring a major in the BSUS should schedule a consultation and request a pre-advising packet by calling 252-737-5062 or emailing email@example.com. The BSUS program office is located in the Old Cafeteria Complex, room 2421, and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
BSUS Student and Graduate Testimonials:
Ben Litsinberger (proposed fall 2017
graduate) "I am a senior
at ECU pursuing a Bachelor of Science in University Studies with a thematic
core in Technology Administration, and I plan to graduate next fall ," said Litsinberger.
"I entered ECU in 2006 in the Political Science program but early in my college career decided to follow my passion in technology. I switched majors to Information and Computer Technology and completed 90 hours of classes before I decided to take a break from school. I started working full time a couple of years into college and was unable to fulfill my school obligations. This led to a decline in my school performance, and I decided to stop taking classes so I could stabilize all other aspects of my life.
"I left ECU with full intentions of returning and completing my degree one day, and I am forever thankful that I am back on track. I am working full time at ECU in the ITCS department and leveraging the opportunity to take state-funded courses in my spare time. This time around, I am taking a much more reasonable workload that allows me to strike a balance between work, school and life. I hope to use this degree in pursuit of obtaining management/executive positions in the technology industry."
Amy Lee (’15) graduated from the University Studies program with a thematic core in Rural Child and Family Outreach Services, and a minor in Child Development and Family Relations. Currently, Lee is completing her Master’s in Human Development and Family Science at ECU, while simultaneously pursing her dream to develop a nonprofit organization.
“Before joining the University Studies program, I had reached my max timeframe for completing my degree,” said Lee. “By switching to this program, I was still able to graduate and create a curriculum that was tailored to my career goals. Being able to tailor an integrated learning path towards my career goals was a life changing opportunity. Above all, the staff was supportive and provided insight that aided my success. I would recommend the BSUS program to anyone who is looking for a unique learning experience or has had difficulty finding what program speaks to their future endeavors. In this program, you have the opportunity to discover who you are and your purpose in life.”
Breone Canty (’15) graduated from the University Studies program with a thematic core in Family Advocacy and Wellness, and a minor in Child Development and Family Relations. Like many other University Studies students, Canty was presented with a unique situation.
“By being a part of the United States Army National Guard, I hold an obligation to not only my country, but my state as well,” said Canty. “If I had to define how University Studies was beneficial to me in one word it would be ‘flexible.’ When I came to University Studies, the staff showed me that I had a plethora of opportunities after I finished my degree. My advisor took the time to talk to me about my goals in life and we were able to come up with a plan of action for my education. I became very motivated.”