In September, Biola will launch a new undergraduate degree completion program in applied psychology — a program that is different from any other degree the university currently offers. The 130-credit program is geared toward adult learners who wish to complete their degree while balancing a busy lifestyle, and is structured to allow students to complete a degree in as little as two years.
“The program is unique because it is a degree completion program for people who have been out of school,” said Gary Kiker, the program’s success coach. “It’s for adults with families and jobs who never finished their degrees.”
The program’s seven-week classes are hybrid classes — five weeks are completed online and two are completed at Biola’s campus. The program is a step away from the classic university structure, where students do everything on campus.
“The benefit of a hybrid course is that it appeals to more people because of its accessibility,” said Kevin Van Lant, an associate professor of psychology with the program. “A vast majority of the program will be online. … [But] the hybrid course creates an environment where the students feel a sense of community. With fully online classes they oftentimes don’t feel connected to the institution.”
Another aspect of the program is its “academic success coaches.” All students are paired with a coach who will work with them throughout the program. The coaches also work with students to create a schedule that fits each individual’s lifestyle and needs. The flexibility of the program allows students to complete the program at their own pace. Kiker refers to his role as a “super academic advisor.”
“Because students aren’t on campus, I’ll be the one who runs to financial aid or the accounting office and helps them with the little things that can come up when you’re going to school,” he said.
The new program aligns with Biola’s goal to lead in biblically integrated education. Like every undergraduate degree offered at Biola, the new program includes 30 credits of Bible and theology courses. This integration of faith centers the entire program on a Christian worldview, and allows students to earn a minor in biblical studies with their bachelor’s degree in applied psychology.
Van Lant said the program’s focus on biblical integration distinguishes it from other completion programs.
“If [students] just wanted an online program, to get through it as quickly as possible, they would go somewhere else,” said Van Lant. “But for the student who really takes the biblical foundation seriously and really wants to understand how psychology and theology integrate, Biola’s new program is ideal.”