Northern Illinois University today announced a new partnership with five northwest suburban community colleges that allows students at Elgin Community College, William Rainey Harper College, College of Lake County, McHenry County College and Oakton Community College who complete an associate’s degree in business to transfer seamlessly and complete their bachelor’s degree at NIU-Hoffman Estates.
The Business Dual Degree Program is designed to provide a pathway for students to earn quality accessible and affordable associate and bachelor’s degrees in business administration close to home, helping address the region’s need for an educated workforce.
“An educated workforce is critical to growing our region’s competitiveness,” said NIU President Douglas Baker. “Expanding baccalaureate completion opportunities, improving transitions and providing students with incentives for degree-completion through compacts such as this help move our state toward these goals.”
As part of the program, high-achieving students will be eligible for NIU scholarships that will enable them to complete their bachelor’s degrees at NIU with a smaller investment.
“We are pleased to work with NIU to offer this joint degree,” said Harper College President Ken Ender, who spoke on behalf of community college presidents at the announcement. “Given dwindling state resources, it is critical that we partner closely with public universities to offer our residents affordable bachelor’s degrees close to home.”
The other presidents in the consortium agree, noting the convenience and affordability of the program and its benefits for students.
“This partnership provides another pathway for students to improve their lives and reach their educational goals,” said David Sam, president of Elgin Community College. “It will allow ECC students to earn a four-year degree in business from NIU without leaving the district. It is an excellent benefit to our students and community.”
“For our students who wish to remain in the Chicago area, the joint business degree provides a valuable new option for completing a respected bachelor’s degree at in-state tuition rates,” CLC President Jerry Weber added.
“McHenry County College is pleased to be part of this dual business agreement with Northern Illinois University and our sister community colleges,” said MCC President Vicky Smith. “At MCC, our mission is centered around student success, so the ability for a student to transfer seamlessly to NIU for a completion of a bachelor’s degree truly supports this focus.”
The effectiveness of the program will be measured by the participating institutions with regard to increasing the number of associate and bachelor’s degree holders, especially among low-income and first generation students. The Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success calls for the state to increase the number of high-quality postsecondary credentials to meet the demands of the economy and an increasingly global society, and the state has set a goal to increase the proportion of Illinois adults with a postsecondary credential to 60 percent by 2025.
Oakton President Margaret B. Lee said, “Whenever we can forge a partnership that removes barriers for our students and facilitates their pathway to completion we can and should celebrate. I am grateful to my colleagues at Oakton and in our partner institutions who worked on all of the details that brought us to this day and this agreement.”