Peirce College is at it again, sticking its neck out for the 99 percent.
The small Center City college has historically served non-traditional students, professionals who took an alternative path to their education or career, or “opportunity students,” as Peirce College President James Mergiotti calls them.
And this fall, the college is opening up a new program to support this side of Philadelphia’s business community.
The college will launch the Competency Based Education (CBE) Information Technology Bachelor’s Degree program, for information technology professionals who never received a college degree.
The program, like some of Peirce’s others, will be completely online and will be competency-based. Students earn their degree based on skills mastery as opposed to the amount of hours they spend in the classroom.
“There are a lot of people who have made something significant out of themselves professionally in IT, but would really benefit from a degree credential,” said Brian Finnegan, an associate dean of IT and education at Peirce. “They may be reluctant to sit in a classroom with a bunch of 18-year-olds and be graded on attendance, do weekly quizzes and come to class three days a week.”
Since the college announced the new program, more than 30 people have completed the first part of the application, an assessment that will determine whether the CBE program is the right fit, said Amanda Frey, Peirce’s supervisor of marketing and communications.
Because Peirce doesn’t recruit for a set academic year, the college’s admissions occur on a rolling basis.
The program is tailored to working professionals, those who may have already mastered various skills in IT and are looking to advance their career with a degree. The program’s coursework will cover skills like data management, programming and networking.
Students who already have some college credits or industry certifications aligned with Peirce’s curriculum can complete assessments on that material and throughout their term will focus solely on the skills sets they still need to learn, eliminating the need to relearn areas they have already mastered.
“Working adults need the flexibility to work in the evenings, on weekends, or even their lunch hours so that they’re able to complete their coursework,” said Peirce vice president of academic advancement, Rita Toliver-Roberts.
The college has long recognized a need to specialize in providing quality, affordable education for working adults in Philadelphia. Not long ago, it didn’t matter as much to attain a degree or even a high school diploma to successfully build a professional career, said Finnegan, noting the need to adapt to the changing work field.
For the CBE program, students will pay a fixed price of $3,000 per term, and there is no limit to how many credits they can earn. Students are also assigned a dedicated CBE coach, a faculty member who serves as a cheerleader to support and help students develop a plan to complete the program.
Peirce is confident that the program is aligned to industry standards.
“When people are looking to advance their careers, we spend a lot of time and effort to make sure that what we’re offering is what employers are looking for,” Toliver-Roberts said. “And we will continue to do that.”