On July 1, DePaul officially launched the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, a new college-level unit dedicated to providing degree and non-degree programs to adult learners at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The new school integrates the former School for New Learning and office of Continuing and Professional Education. SCPS continues to deliver the full complement of programs of both former units, and it fully serves the students and alumni of all programs. Naturally, the DePaul community is wondering, what’s changed? What’s new? What’s in it for me?
Let’s start with that last question. As the inheritor of CPE’s certificate programs, SCPS offers a range of credentials that can benefit DePaul employees’ professional development (and at a special employee discount). Who among us could not benefit from learning about the latest agile techniques in project management? (Agility? Sign me up!) Or, perhaps you’re a professional who regularly offers workshops that leverage your expertise in promoting adults’ development, and you didn’t realize you could do that through your own employer (yes, you can!).
For degree-seekers, SCPS’s bachelor’s degrees in majors ranging from Business Administration to Data Analytics offer career-changers and career-advancers opportunities to develop job-ready skills, at tuition rates that are priced right (or for eligible employees, covered under DePaul’s tuition benefit program). Perhaps you’re like many adults who are already fully engaged in a profession yet crave further advancement through graduate-level learning that’s focused on the transferable, liberal skills of leadership, collaboration, communication and research. SCPS’s MA program in Applied Professional Studies is just one example of how you can build upon and advance your specialized, technical knowledge with new professional acumens. Our programs are grounded in interdisciplinary perspectives, drawing upon the expertise and leadership of a core of tenured faculty and large cadre of adjunct faculty, all of whom are expert practitioners in their fields.
But, what’s new here?
For starters, SCPS offers a new brand that is recognizable in the market. The adult education landscape readily “gets” continuing and professional studies. Already I’ve seen signs of increased enrollment and interest in our programs under the SCPS banner, not only from interested students, but also from faculty and external partners who wish to work with us. We’re directly positioning ourselves to be a strong competitor in a very competitive field. I am confident we will be successful because of the strength of our expertise, the quality of our programs, and DePaul’s distinctiveness as a place where, “Here, we do.” Actually, for SCPS, “here”—more often than not—means within the communities where our students are instantly applying their learning to achieve social justice; at partner sites like the Chicago Police Academy, where our police cohorts are receiving their DePaul degrees in business administration; and, at home, where parents are completing their assignments online, after they’ve put the kids to bed.
In a sense, we’ve put a new spin on an old thing: providing access to lifelong learning to adult learners through flexible options that include courses offered in the evenings, courses on-site at our partnering organizations’ facilities, and, of course, online learning. And we’re doing this through a range of strategies that leverage DePaul’s enrollment management and marketing expertise: partnership-building with corporations, civic organizations, and community colleges; a dedicated team of adult admissions counselors; marketing tactics tailored to adult “consumers” of higher education; combined degree “professional studies pathways”; and innovative offerings responsive to new market opportunities.
With the launch of SCPS, we’ve also established a new Office of Prior Learning Assessment, to serve the entire university. Since its birth in 1972, SNL honored college-level, prior learning, assessed as applicable to its specific degree requirements. Now we are poised to administer PLA for any DePaul program whose faculty approves. PLA will thus expand access for students within a range of DePaul programs who seek to receive credit for demonstrated learning acquired through means outside of regular academic classes (i.e., other than through transfer credit), at the requisite level (baccalaureate or higher).
Our programs continue to grow. This fall we enrolled our first class of students into the new BA in Healthcare Administration program. We’ve made our MA programs fully completable online. For the lifelong learner, we continue to offer graduate certificates, a popular one - the Certificate in Educating Adults, emphasizes talent development and educational program design in learners’ particular organizational contexts. And, we’re continuing to develop new programs, so stay tuned!
Despite all the changes—and more to come—one thing is for certain: we remain dedicated to a core mission of educating adults across their educational paths: from initial degree, to further credentials, to graduate-level learning and beyond. This past year, we added our 10,000th alumnus to our growing alumni society, one that enjoys a worldwide footprint.
Last week the SCPS faculty and staff gathered for a two-day retreat to launch the school’s strategic planning, which will continue through the fall quarter. The synergy in our personal visions for a collective SCPS future gives me great confidence about the future sustainability of the school. After all, “We are DePaul!”