The University of North Texas (UNT), a grant partner of the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC), continues to develop its innovative Bachelor of Arts in Information Technology (BAIT) program. The manager of the BAIT program – principal lecturer David Keathly – recently delivered a webinar to interested faculty and administrators from the CTC’s community of practice, the Convergence College Network (CCN), to explain how the program works and ways they can get involved. Below are some highlights of that talk.
- The BAIT was designed to address the challenges many community college students face when their workforce class credits don’t transfer to four-year universities in a manner that benefits and shortens the time to degree. They might get transfer credit for the courses, but they don’t always satisfy or cover a particular course for their chosen major program of study. Students frequently have to start over.
- The BAIT program has twice now passed the rigorous ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accreditation process. The UNT BAIT degree is now ABET-accredited through 2021. This is a huge accomplishment for so unusual a program. In fact, it’s one of only a handful of IT/engineering programs in the country that accepts workforce courses. As a result, the BAIT degree is a very technical, hands-on degree. It’s unlike most similar four-year degrees that tend to be more of a “general studies” to use as many prior credits as possible.
- What makes the BAIT program work is that 21-hour portion of the degree labelled “supporting area.” It’s those seven 3-hour courses that become the “home” for the traditional community college IT technical classes like Cisco or PC Support. Just about any technical course is accepted in the “supporting area” category so long as it’s part of a coherent, structured set of classes.
- As it stands now, if a community college student carefully coordinated his/her slate of classes with his community college counselor and also with the UNT advisors, up to 79 hours could be earned at the community college level and then transferred to UNT. In most situations, the most a student could hope for would be around 40 hours. Obviously, the more credit a student can earn at the more affordable community college level, the better for the student’s pocketbook.
- The BAIT program is transitioning to an online format, which will allow students to take their technical and “gen-ed” courses at their community college, transfer those to UNT, then take the “upper level” UNT classes online without having to move to North Texas. This element will require some local community college faculty to serve as on-site BAIT advisors (and maybe ultimately teach some BAIT classes), which UNT will pay. This arrangement opens up new opportunities for students living in an area without a four-year university, or without a four-year university offering an IT Bachelor’s degree.
- This partnership is first being extended to schools in the CCN as a pilot program, but the ultimate goal is to open up the BAIT to community colleges across the country.
It’s an ambitious program that seeks to transform in many ways how community colleges work with four-year universities. We will keep you posted on its progress in future blog posts.