NCA Accredits UTTC Online Associate Degrees

May 15th, 2004 | By | Category: 15-4: Ancient Cultures Modern Technology, Tribal College News
PHIL BAIRD

SHUNNED PACKAGES. Phil Baird says UTTC developed courses specifically for Native students and did not use pre-packaged programs.

United Tribes Technical College (UTTC in Bismarck, ND) has achieved a milestone in higher education: accreditation to grant degrees to students who take all their classes online. It is one of the first tribal colleges to have been approved to deliver degree-granting programs using entirely online, distance technology, according to Leah Woodke, director of UTTC Online and Distance Education.

North Central Association of Colleges and Schools accredited two of UTTC’s associate degree programs — early childhood education and injury prevention. UTTC plans to seek accreditation for several of its other online Associate of Applied Science degrees — health information technology, elementary education, nutrition and food service, and criminal justice.

“We’re breaking new ground with this,” says UTTC President David M. Gipp. “Several tribal colleges have offered individual courses online for some time. This step is accreditation for the full degree program online.”

Delivering classes online has expanded the access to higher education for tribal students all across the country, according to Gipp. “Not all Native students can go to a tribal college or come to Bismarck for classes on campus. By working online, they have the potential to earn an accredited UTTC degree from even the most remote locations in the country.”

“Accreditation is a voluntary process and a very important one,” says Woodke. “To receive accreditation is to be on a par with other colleges. It validates the courses and program offerings, ensures that students can transfer their coursework and that their degrees will be recognized.”

UTTC developed its online courses specifically to meet the needs of tribal students, says UTTC Dean of Vocational and Academic Programs Phil Baird. The college shunned the use of pre-packaged online programs and coursework and designed its own technology platform for both academic instruction and student support services.

“It’s very significant to us, and the tribal college movement, that our systems and courses meet both the needs of our students and the standards expected of higher education institutions in this country,” Baird says. UTTC is willing to share its model for online and distance education with other tribal colleges.

Information about UTTC’s online and campus-based programs and courses can be found at the website www.unitedtribestech.com.

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