Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, is doing something it’s never done before: offering students a four-year degree. NWC has long been recognized as a two-year, comprehensive community college, preparing students for transfers, careers and life. The newest addition to the college’s education options is the Bachelor of Applied Science in Professional Studies degree, presenting area students with a more accessible four-year degree option. Applied science is a discipline that uses scientific knowledge to develop new information technologies and inventions.
Renee Dechert, Ph.D., is a professor of English at Northwest and teaches business communications and technical writing. She also oversees annual competitions and was an integral part of bringing the Bachelor of Applied Science degree to northwest Wyoming. Dechert said that although securing accreditation was a long process, it was worth it.
“Last year, we did our site visit in November,” Dechert said. “We were approved for the degree and started building the curriculum for the degree. It went through a guided accreditation process, and we now have our first cohort.”
The new degree
The Bachelor of Applied Science program uses technology to give its students the most modern and state-of-the-art in-person and online learning options. Students may Zoom in from all around the world and experience an interactive learning environment with the help of an Owl camera. The Owl camera is placed in the center of the room and focuses on each speaker with its 360-degree angle view and intelligent tech. All classes are recorded and uploaded online for students to view at their leisure, allowing for ultimate flexibility.
Northwest College is located in Powell, just a few hours’ drive from Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. Dechert said the college is highly community-focused.
“A lot of people know each other around here,” Dechert said. “We are going to provide educational and cultural opportunities for those people and the surrounding area. We work closely with the community who continually provide input. As part of the process, we had to do a survey to see if there was sufficient interest in offering a four-year degree.”
Dechert said the Bachelor of Applied Science degree idea started in 2019 and has been well received by members of the university and the community.
“We’re now able to offer the community something that wasn’t available or offered before,” Dechert said. “I think that’s the part I’m most excited about. To bring this program to these people.”
The program includes courses in accounting, leadership, HR, marketing, business writing and other subjects. Dechert said the program will allow recent high school graduates to get a well-rounded education and help those currently in the workforce improve upon their existing education for positions of higher seniority.
“We’re excited to have these baccalaureate students with us this fall,” Dechert said. “Hopefully this is just the beginning of Northwest College being able to offer four-year degrees.”
To learn more about the Bachelor of Applied Science degree at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, visit nwc.edu.