Southeast Partners with Missouri State University-West Plains on Associate’sPLUS

Photo of President Dobbins

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Dec. 10, 2013 – A partnership between Southeast Missouri State University and Missouri State University-West Plains has paved the way for students at Southeast’s three regional campuses to now earn a two-year Associate of Arts from Missouri State-West Plains.

Southeast President Kenneth W. Dobbins and Missouri State University-West Plains Chancellor Drew Bennett made the announcement today at Southeast’s regional campuses in Sikeston, Malden and Kennett, Mo.

Beginning next fall, Associate’sPLUS will allow Southeast regional campus students the opportunity to earn a high-quality degree in just two years. At the same time, students may choose to pursue a four-year bachelor’s degree seamlessly and simply, without transferring institutions, leaving a Southeast regional campus or losing credits.

Under the reverse transfer agreement signed today, Southeast regional campus students may earn an Associate of Arts after completing 62 credit hours, 15 of which will be from Missouri State-West Plains. The 15 credit hours will be available online, and students may complete them while attending a Southeast regional campus. The remaining hours will be taught by Southeast faculty at a Southeast regional campus. At 62 credit hours, Missouri State-West Plains will grant an Associate of Arts, and students will be well on their way to a bachelor’s degree.

Dobbins says Southeast has forged a wonderful collaboration with Missouri State-West Plains.

“Missouri State-West Plains is a great school,” he said. “It has been ranked the sixth best community college in the nation by Washington Monthly. The offerings they bring to this partnership and the way they align with our regional campus degree offerings couldn’t be better. I am proud to be working with Chancellor Drew Bennett and look forward to a long and impactful partnership.”

Bennett says Missouri State-West Plains is pleased to be working with Southeast to provide students access to an associate’s degree.

“This has been a great partnership, and it has been a seamless process to develop the Associate’sPLUS program,” Bennett said. “As our part of the agreement, we are offering online courses that are already available to anyone, anywhere. We are packaging the courses together in order to facilitate the ability of students at these three campuses to complete an associate’s degree.”

No additional application fee is required to participate, and regional campus students may use Southeast’s A+ Scholarship program, with the same qualifiers as the state program, while completing their lower-level coursework. Students may remain enrolled as a Southeast student and simultaneously enroll in one or more classes through Missouri State-West Plains. Missouri State-West Plains will offer several online courses in biology, computer science and macroeconomics, and other general education courses available to Southeast students every semester.

Academic advisors at each of Southeast’s regional campuses are available to help explain degree options.

Southeast and Missouri State University-West Plains officials say this new collaboration is in response to state and federal mandates to partner with other Missouri institutions and to find ways to increase the number of degree/certificate holders in the area. To ensure both institutions were following state guidance, Southeast and Missouri State-West Plains officials worked with the Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE) for review before proceeding with the program.

“This is also an effort to better meet our mission of delivering high-quality and affordable college education in southeast Missouri,” Dobbins said.

“When Southeast officials contacted us, we were excited about the opportunity to offer classes to meet the needs of their students in accordance with the Missouri Department of Higher Education’s initiative to foster reverse transfer agreements,” Bennett added. “We appreciate the Department of Higher Education’s advice on finalizing this partnership to benefit students.”

Currently, Southeast students can earn a four-year bachelor’s degree at Southeast’s regional campuses in Sikeston, Kennett and Malden. Southeast offers 10 bachelor’s degree programs available entirely at its regional campuses with eight programs offered completely online. Additionally, students may also earn an A.S. in dental hygiene at Southeast’s Sikeston campus in cooperation with Missouri Southern State University.

“Adding the ability to earn a high-quality, two-year associate degree while attending one of our regional campuses allows us to better serve more people in this area,” Dobbins said.

With these goals, Southeast officials began meeting with Missouri State University-West Plains leaders and decided to form “Associate’sPLUS,” Dobbins said. He says three groups will benefit from this partnership:

  • High school graduates who want to earn a two-year degree on their way to pursuing a four-year bachelor’s degree. Associate’sPLUS provides the opportunity for a quality, affordable college experience with classes close to home and a degree earned in just two years, he said.
  • Individuals who believe an associate’s degree will help them advance at work or in their profession.
  • Students whose lives change and need to temporarily withdraw from college. Through Associate’sPLUS, students can apply credits earned toward a degree and can then use that degree to achieve a better life.

“The most important part of this program is that students can begin working on their bachelor’s degree from day one and, at the same time, can complete the requirements for an Associate of Arts, all while attending a Southeast regional campus,” Dobbins said. “Students can begin taking upper level credit that is needed for a bachelor’s degree program when their degree plan prescribes it. The goal of Associate’sPLUS is to provide the student with all the benefits of earning an Associate of Arts while they seamlessly pursue a bachelor’s degree.”

Southeast began investing in rural southeast Missouri more than 25 years ago. Today it has regional campuses in Kennett, Malden and Sikeston, Mo.

Today’s announcement, Dobbins says, is “another way to effect change in these towns and improve the quality of life for residents here.”

For more information the program, visit http://stayclosegofar.com.