UNI, DMACC offer joint bachelor’s degree program in Des Moines

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DMACC President Rob Denson, left, and UNI President Mark Nook answer questions about the new partnership between UNI and the DMACC Urban Campus. The new 2 + 2 program known as “UNI at DMACC” is designed for students to complete their first two years at DMACC with the remaining two years completed through UNI on the DMACC Urban Campus. Photo courtesy DMACC

The University of Northern Iowa and the Des Moines Area Community College have partnered to provide DMACC students with a streamlined pathway to a four-year degree — all while enjoying the convenience of the Des Moines location.

Known as the UNI at DMACC program, the new 2 + 2 degree program, announced at a Wednesday press conference by DMACC President Rob Denson and UNI President Mark Nook, is designed to allow students to complete their first two years at DMACC, with the remaining two years completed through UNI but on the DMACC Urban Campus.

Students graduating from the program will earn a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree. The plan is designed to make degree completion easier for DMACC students by eliminating the obstacles of relocation, with the aim of preparing even more students for careers that require a four-year degree, according to Denson and Nook.

The presidents said they developed the new partnership after more than a year of conversations centering around how to make a bachelor’s degree more convenient for the 5,000 students enrolled at the DMACC Urban Campus. The program will begin in the fall of 2020, pending approval by the Iowa Board of Regents.

“The Liberal Studies degree at DMACC’s Urban Campus is a demonstration of our commitment to finding new ways of bringing a four-year degree to students across the state of Iowa, no matter their location,” said UNI’s Nook. “This degree has large employability and opens many doors for graduates. We are grateful for our long partnership with DMACC and are excited to provide an accessible education to Des Moines-based students through this innovative program.”

Nook said the UNI Bachelor of Liberal Studies is designed for students who have completed a two-year degree and need a rigorous yet flexible program that employers value. Initially, courses will be offered in an online format, with potential to expand to additional offerings between the two schools. Staff will be present to support students in all aspects of the online program.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds attended Wednesday’s announcement and praised the new agreement for broadening access to higher education.

“This partnership is a tremendous example of what’s possible when our leaders in higher education share a passion for delivering quality, post-secondary education to all Iowans,” Reynolds said. “UNI at DMACC’s Urban Campus will open doors that too often are closed by the realities of life and the daily demands that can challenge the pursuit of higher education.”

DMACC’s Denson said many of DMACC Urban’s students are place-bound and not able readily to relocate in order to continue their education. DMACC Urban is the first public majority-minority college campus in Iowa, he said, with students of color composing 52 percent of the campus’ population. The average age of DMACC Urban students is 28. This partnership will allow these students to gain the advantages of a four-year degree without having to leave their jobs, families and communities.

“This announcement offers a valuable, new resource for our students and the DMACC Urban Campus,” said DMACC’s Denson. “The collaboration between our two outstanding institutions underscores the strong commitment we have to better serve the students in and around the urban core of Des Moines and will provide our students with a high-quality and affordable path to become well-rounded and capable graduates who will be ready to enter Iowa’s workforce.”

Having a physical location at DMACC in Des Moines will be new for UNI, but it is not the first time the schools have partnered to provide continuing education to community college students. UNI has had a partnership in teacher education with DMACC on the college’s Carroll campus for more than 20 years and also offers the 2+2 program in teacher education to DMACC Boone and Ankeny students. More than 300 students have graduated from these 2+2 programs since 1995.

For more information about the UNI at DMACC 2 + 2 program and other program offerings, visit the UNI website.

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