A Tradition of Excellence

Asbury University graduate students spent time in a local elementary school during their course work.
Asbury University graduate students spent time in a local elementary school during their course work.

The traditional path to success in the United States, educationally speaking, goes something like this: high school, college, job. And for more than 120 years, Asbury University has excelled in providing college-age students with a comprehensive, high-quality education to help them move along that path.

There is another group of students at Asbury, however — a group for whom the path to success turned in a different direction. Some completed a portion of their undergraduate degree years ago but, for various reasons, did not finish their programs of study. Others have found that their career goals require more than a bachelor’s degree and have returned for a master’s. And some have found that although Asbury’s academic programs and spiritual environment are a perfect match for them, moving to Central Kentucky to take classes simply isn’t feasible.

For these students, Asbury offers its high-quality education through expanded delivery systems to give them an opportunity to finish a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the midst of work and family obligations. They fall under three main categories:

Adult Professional Studies

The Asbury University Adult Professional Studies program (APS) is a non-traditional, accelerated program designed to provide adults with an opportunity to complete a college degree. In this format, adult students attend class one night a week on a year-round basis, attend classes online or complete entire programs online with distance-learning instructors.

When students enroll in the APS program, they are placed in a cohort with other students in their major. As they move through their classes, the relationships they develop with each other serve as encouragement and inspiration to stick with what can be, at times, a difficult juggling act.

Susie Lyons, a management and ethics major in Asbury’s APS program, owns a horse farm in Central Kentucky with her husband, as well as a therapeutic residential school for boys in Virginia. She has found her cohort’s support and the immediate applicability of the class information to be some of her favorite things about the program.

“I have been able to learn one day and implement the next day from the very first class,” Lyons said. “At this point in my life, I want to learn and use what I learn to do things well. It was difficult for me at a younger age to really know what I wanted to study when I attended college.”

Distance learning classes enable Asbury students to connect in a variety of locations.
Distance learning classes enable Asbury students to connect in a variety of locations.
Online Degrees

Closely related to the Adult Professional Studies program are Asbury’s online degree completion programs. Students may combine Asbury’s online courses with core education classes from another institution to receive a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (online only) or a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education (online or on campus).

A relatively recent addition to Asbury’s offerings, online degree completion has received high marks from students. Asbury’s professors, well-regarded for their close personal interaction with students in classes on campus, have translated those skills to the online learning platform well.

“We wanted to make sure to maintain the personal relationship with our students,” said Theresa Scates, director of online programs. “There are two ways our instructors have really pulled this off. One is the incredible amount of feedback our instructors give to students on their assignments, and some of the classes have been holding regularly scheduled sessions where they use the video and audio tools.”

Graduate Degrees

The Education Department offers Principal Licensure and “Teacher as Leader” programs online and a variety of endorsement, certification and alternative certification graduate programs on campus. Also, Asbury offers an accredited Master of Social Work program.

“Graduate students are adults with very different needs,” said Barbara Kennedy, director of graduate education. “They primarily need flexibility in their program of study because of their need to plan ahead and around such pressing needs as families, homes and jobs.”

Asbury’s Master of Social Work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and has a child and family services emphasis. The field education component of the program plays an important role in preparing MSW students to serve effectively.

“Social work as a profession is inherently focused on service to individuals, groups and communities and their needs, so graduate social work education most certainly is not simply a classroom experience or enterprise,” said Bill Descoteaux, director of the MSW program. “It is networked closely and throughout the process with field education and experience. Every semester that a student is registered full-time, they are also registered for field education, in which they perform between 12 and 18 hours a week providing social work services under supervision in the community.”

Similarly, the Education Department emphasizes a clinical approach to improving education, building on research to improve the classroom experience both for teachers and students.

“Our students are learning to analyze student learning,” said Dr. Verna Lowe, professor and head of the education unit at Asbury. “The measure of a teacher is how well students achieve, so we’re making it a science.”

From graduate education to online and on-campus degree completion, Asbury’s non-traditional students form an essential component of the Asbury student body, committed to academic excellence and spiritual vitality in the unique places they find themselves:

“I had never studied academics from a Christian worldview before, and this appealed to me at this time in my life,” Lyons said. “God has a plan for each of us, and I am thankful to now accept who I am, where I am today and my thirst for learning.”

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