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U-Rock to offer four-year degree
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JANESVILLE - University of Wisconsin-Rock County plans to offer a new, four-year degree this fall, appealing especially to local adults who can't take time away from family or jobs to attend a four-year college.

The new bachelor's degree program will offer credit for workplace experience and would benefit local workers who need a degree to advance in their careers, said Carmen Wilson, UW-Rock dean and campus executive officer.

UW-Rock will be one of six two-year UW campuses to offer the new bachelor of applied arts and sciences degree-completion program.

"We're very excited about it," Wilson said of the new program. "It's really a wonderful opportunity for place-bound students."

Another advantage to older students is that the degree will offer credit for workplace or military experience.

The BAAS degree, as officials call it, is a general-studies degree that emphasizes critical thinking, written and oral communication skills, and working in groups with people from diverse cultures and viewpoints.

The degree will include requirements for learning through community service and local internships.

"I have heard from employers that students need soft skills - how to be a good employee, professional experience, how to communicate well, work in team - and this degree focuses on those aspects," Wilson said.

Several four-year degrees already are offered at the Janesville campus in cooperation with four-year universities, including the popular engineering degrees through UW-Platteville and a nursing degree through UW-Oshkosh and with the help of Blackhawk Technical College.

The new program will include 30 credits offered by UW-Platteville, but the UW Colleges, which includes UW-Rock, will confer the degree, and that's a first for UW-Rock, Wilson said.

The Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting agency, has approved the new program, UW-Rock announced Tuesday.

Accreditation is intended to assure that colleges meet generally accepted standards.

"The BAAS degree is very timely and relevant to today's adult students," Wilson said in a news release. "It meets the needs of local businesses and organizations for employees who are skilled in teamwork and communications, and it meets Wisconsin's need for a more educated workforce."