A proposal to implement a Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) degree was passed by an 85 percent faculty majority on Wednesday, March 6. The degree is aimed towards students who would be unable to complete a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in eight full-time semesters and does not have a residency requirement. The implementation process for the degree is currently ongoing.
The BLS degree, proposed by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Joyce Jacobsen in conversation with President Michael Roth ’78, is modeled off similar programs like Harvard’s Bachelor of Liberal Arts Degree and Columbia University’s School of General Studies’ Bachelor of Arts Degree. It is intended for four categories of students: students in the Center for Prison Education (CPE) program who have an Associate of Arts degree through the Middlesex Community College Program, Wesleyan staff and partners of faculty and staff, former Wesleyan students who have been away from Wesleyan for at least three years (to encourage completion of a BA degree, since BA students are allowed to take up to two years leave), and other people who are unable to complete the BA degree in eight full-time semesters due to work or life circumstances but otherwise meet admissions standards.
In addition to not having a residency requirement, two characteristics that set the BLS degree apart from the BA are that BLS students can enroll part-time in any semester, and they can take more than eight semesters to complete the degree.
“Anything that opens the strict conventionality of how we educate people seems to me to be a positive in the sense that there could be more avenues to learn the things we think are important other than the traditional eight semesters, four classes a semester,” Roth said.
Rather than complete a major, BLS students will complete an eight-credit concentration consisting of eight courses numbered 201 or higher. However, if feasible, students should opt to complete a standard major. Some concentrations will be modeled off of existing majors with modifications such as fewer required courses than the pre-existing major, more allowed transfer credit, and less-intensive prerequisites. Concentrations can also be modeled off of existing minors with the inclusion of additional courses, and students can design their own concentrations with approval from the faculty governing board.
BLS students must complete 32 credits, with at least 16 credits earned through Wesleyan courses, and students must complete their course of study with at least a 74.00 GPA.
Students will pay per course, with the price set at what BA students pay for winter or summer session courses. Students will also pay matriculation, registration, and graduation fees, and students can opt out of paying a student activities fee if they do not intend to participate in student activities. Costs for incarcerated CPE students will be covered by free coursework and Pell Grants, and Wesleyan staff and partners will only pay fees per term.
BLS students will preregister for the fall and spring semesters during adjustment periods and then participate fully in the add/drop period. Students will achieve class designations based on the credit schedule of BA students.
The admissions to the program will be rolling, with students able to begin in any term and aid packages processed in both spring and fall terms. While there is currently no Wesleyan financial aid planned for BLS students, as the cost is already discounted, some federal aid may be available and will be administered by the Office of Financial Aid.
Correction: This article has been updated due to an error regarding the Columbia University’s School of General Studies’ Bachelor of Arts Degree.
Jocelyn Maeyama can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.