In 2011, Texas Gov. Rick Perry challenged education leaders in his state to develop a four-year baccalaureate degree that cost no more than $10,000 to complete. Officials responded with a three-year degree program that costs $13,000 and uses online courses to deliver on the low-cost promise.
The Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Degree Program allows students to earn 90 credit hours online, with the last 30 offered in both traditional classrooms and online settings. Students are also allowed to earn credits for lower-division coursework by proving they have mastered the concept.
The cost is $750 for each seven-week period and includes e-textbooks. Students are able to complete as many courses as they can within that seven-week period without additional cost.
The program was launched in early February at South Texas College and Texas A&M-Commerce. It is supported by the College for All Texans Foundation and a two-year, $1 million grant from Educause and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its goal is to teach skills employers view as necessary for students to join the workforce.
“We also listened to what national and regional employers are saying they really want: graduates with critical thinking skills who are quantitatively literate, can evaluate knowledge sources, understand diversity, and benefit from a strong liberal arts and sciences backgrounds,” said Van Davis, director of innovation, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. “This isn’t just another business degree.”