Student Spotlight

BU Launches Fully Online AA Degree

August 03, 2012 by Social Team

Brandman students are well prepared

IRVINE, Calif. (July 3, 2012) – Brandman University, a part of the Chapman University System, is now accepting applications for its innovative online Associate of Arts (AA) degree program.  With many distractions to detract from one’s schooling, online education has become increasingly popular due to its flexibility.  And while Bachelor’s and graduate degree candidates may thrive on the flexibility that online programs offer, students who are new to college sometimes lack the maturity and discipline required for online education.

The announcement signifies a new direction for Brandman which has served non-traditional students and working adults since 1958.  In recent years, the University has accepted only applicants with some college experience (12 credit units) under their belt. The new AA program in General Education is open to students with no previous college, as long as they have a high school diploma or GED, a verified cumulative high school GPA of 2.0, and English and Math competency determined by an admissions exam or successful completion of college-level English and Math courses.

The vast majority of students seeking the Associate of Arts or ‘AA’ degree through California’s community college system are not ready for the challenges ahead.  And most will never achieve their goal.  Critics blame an overcrowded public system burdened by underprepared college freshman who have limited access to advising and quality academic program planning.   Research shows that it takes students entering college without proper preparation several terms longer, more credits, and more classes to complete their degrees—causing many to simply drop out   (Bailey et al., 2010; California Budget Project; 2011) .

In response, Brandman, a private, non-profit institution accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), designed an innovative  AA program that includes the same strong support and advising services they offer to upper-level, online and on-ground students. With a graduation rate of nearly 70 percent and a student loan default rate of 2.3 percent, significantly lower than the national average of 8.8 percent, Brandman surpasses the outcomes of many universities, both traditional and non-traditional.

To further ensure that the new program is successful, Brandman University employed a 5-step curriculum process.  The process is based on an intensive research-based review of educational literature, a competitive analysis and a demand analysis.

Jennifer Tucker Klein, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Research and Planning at Brandman said, “Across the state, we’ve seen a large number of students come into college underprepared for the rigor ahead.  Standard measures like placement and diagnostic tests, in other words – ‘what we’ve always been doing’ – are no longer working.  Instead, we meet students where they are, foster their academic growth through integrating applied skills within curriculum, then we naturally make the learning experience more meaningful and do so successfully.”  Dr. Klein was one of 30 leading researchers invited by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to participate in a Washington D.C. think tank that examined promising practices for improving college completion. Brandman applied key findings from that symposium to the new program.  She continues, “No one starts college with the goal to drop out.  We’ve set out to solve the problem and found that a combination of innovation and strong student support services is the key to success.”

For more information about Brandman University’s AA Program in General Education, call (800) 746-0379.

Student loan default rate:

Bailey, T., Jeong, D. W., & Cho, S.-W. (2010, March). Referral, enrollment, and completion in developmental education sequences in community colleges. Economics of Education Review, 29, 255–270.

Student Success Task Force Final Report: A d v a n c i n g S t u d e n t S u c c e s s i n California Community Colleges The Recommendations of the California Community Colleges Student Success Task Force (2012).



About Brandman University
Brandman University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. As part of the Chapman University System, Brandman blends a legacy of academic excellence with innovative curriculum and strong support services designed for students with busy schedules. The university offers 50+ undergraduate, graduate, credential and certificate programs across its schools of arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and health. Brandman serves 12,000 students annually with programs available online and at 26 campuses throughout California and Washington. The university’s online programs consistently rank among the top in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

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