As Sacramento State works to improve graduation rates, the University has launched a new degree completion program designed for students who had to leave college just short of graduation.

The Bachelor of Arts in Arts & Letters program, a collaboration between the College of Arts & Letters and the College of Continuing Education (CCE), begins this fall and is accepting applications. The program is aimed at students who were majoring in arts and letters disciplines and designed to provide flexibility for working and other non-traditional students.

Between 1,200 and 1,500 students stop out of the University every year, according to Program Manager Gabe Hernandez, many of them because of a life event such as a job or a family obligation.

“Once that happens, it’s difficult for them to come back,” he said. “With this degree, we’re offering an alternative pathway, an opportunity for them to come back and get a bachelor’s.”

The B.A. in Arts & Letters is the sixth degree completion program offered through CCE – joining child development, psychology, career and technical studies, criminal justice, and nursing – but the first to encompass a broad academic discipline. Together, these programs enroll nearly 500 students.

The degree is multidisciplinary and offered in a hybrid format. Students must take four core courses, all of which will be available online: Texts Over Time; Individual, Community and Citizenship; Creativity, Meaning and Criticism; and Happiness, Well Being and the Good Life. Once the core courses are completed, students may choose from an array of online or on-campus elective courses to complete the remainder of the 120 units needed to graduate.

To be eligible, students must have been away from college at least one year, have completed at least 84 units including all lower division general education requirements, and have a minimum GPA of 2.0. Tuition is based on CCE’s per-unit fee scale, which offers greater flexibility than the University’s traditional tuition rates, and students can apply any financial aid they are eligible for to the cost.

Michele Foss-Snowden, professor of Communication Studies, is faculty liaison for the new program. She says an advantage of the degree is that it offers a broad overview of the arts and letters discipline while at the same time provides in-demand job skills.

“Employers across all industries are saying, ‘We want people who can write well. We want people who can deliver an oral presentation. We want people who are critical thinkers, who are creative thinkers,’ ” said Foss-Snowden. “These ideas are at the heart of the arts and letters disciplines, so this degree completion program targets those employable and desirable skills and highlights them in a way that can be fully delivered online.”

Degree completion programs also affect the broader region and state, Foss-Snowden and Hernandez say, helping fill a critical need for more college-educated professionals.

“Having more bachelor’s-educated individuals is a tremendous benefit, especially in Sacramento, where we’re experiencing economic growth and redevelopment,” Hernandez said. “This program will contribute to that growth.”

For more information, including eligibility details, go to the Bachelor of Arts in Arts & Letters program page on the Sac State website. – Jonathan Morales