Students at Central Wyoming College may soon be able to pursue Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degrees without transferring to another institution.
Following a national trend, the state of Wyoming authorized its seven community colleges to offer BAS degrees in March. CWC announced plans to seek state approval for two BAS programs after a unanimous Board of Trustees decision last week.
The college currently offers two-year Associate in Applied Science degrees in disciplines ranging from computer science to culinary arts. CWC President Brad Tyndal said the new four-year programs would be a natural extension.
"The applied science degrees are very much job-focused," Tyndall said. "This effort would allow us to add more and take people to the Bachelor's level where they can advance their careers."
He said talks about adding the BAS have been underway for years and driven primarily by the needs of students from the Wind River Reservation.
"A lot of our [Native] students are non-traditional students. Some are already in the workforce," said Ivan Posey, CWC's tribal education coordinator.
The first bachelor's degrees offered at the college would be in business entrepreneurship and organizational leadership, a program that would include courses in federal Indian law and tribal resource management.
"They may work for the Shoshone or Arapaho Tribal government. They may work for the Wind River Police Department or the Bureau of Indian Affairs or one of the school districts. So, it's pretty broad in what they want to learn and progress in," Posey said.
Meanwhile, 11 CWC fall courses are currently being offered on the Wind River Reservation. Posey says both initiatives are aimed at making higher education more affordable and accessible to Native students.
CWC officials will present curricula for both proposed BAS programs first to the Wyoming Community College Commission and later to the state Higher Education Commission. Pending approval from both, they hope to begin offering BAS coursework as early as next fall.