Academic Pathways


Western has more than 63 academic pathways that are designed to help you attain your associate's degree within 2 years or less if you are a full-time student and within 8 semesters or less if you are part-time.  You can also earn one or more of our 42 certificates in a semester or a year, depending on the program you choose..  These degree and certificate pathways are aligned to knowledge and skills required by 4-year institutions and the labor market, thus ensuring that you can continue your studies and/or advance in your chosen career.  By following the pathways plan from the start, you will have a clear road map of the courses you need to earn your degree or certificate.  Our faculty and support staff will provide guidance and support along the way to help you stay on track.  Pathways help you to stay on schedule and keep costs down when you are not taking extra courses that are not part of your academic plan. We want to help you complete your degree or certificate in a way that works for you.

Our academic schedule is set up for 5, 7, 12, and 15 week courses that are offered day, evening, and online.  We offer 26 degrees and certificates that are fully online; some of the courses within these degrees even allow you to proceed at your own pace, giving you the opportunity to finish as quickly as you feel comfortable doing.  Check out our pathways programs today and turn your passion into purpose!

Think about your course options as food in a big cafeteria.  Do you make good nutritional choices when you see all that food or do you take whatever appeals to you?  And maybe you wind up spending too much on that meal because you took more than you really needed.  Or maybe you are overwhelmed by all that food and don’t know what to choose. 

 At Western, we help you to select a program of study and then stay on track with a clearly delineated pathway.  The courses in your program have been specifically selected to fit within the program as a whole – they enhance the content of other program courses and allow you to make connections across courses.  Pathways allow you to progress through your program more efficiently and help you to avoid the extra time and cost that can occur if you sign up for unnecessary courses.  Research has shown that when students stay on a structured pathway they are more likely to persist and actually earn a degree. 

Western’s pathways have been designed to allow you to complete an Associate’s degree in 2 years or less as a full-time student, depending on the number of credits you might transfer in from high school dual or concurrent courses or another college.  Part-time pathways have been created to allow you to complete your degree in 8 semesters. 

It is important that you meet with your advisor every semester to ensure that you are making progress on your pathway.  While your curriculum map clearly lays out the course options in your pathway, your advisor can provide assistance with developing a schedule that works for you, selecting courses, answering questions about transfer, and helping with other issues you may encounter prior to the start of a new semester.

We understand that you might not know what program you want to enter when coming to Western.  Some students just don’t know where to start.  Others are trying to decide between two or three majors.  And still others would like to tailor a degree to fit their specific career plans.  We can help with each of these dilemmas – and more.  We want you to have a little time to explore and still stay on track.  Just remember that the more time you take to explore, the longer it takes to complete. 

Beginning in Fall 2020, exploration gets easier with our new Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees.  These degrees will allow you to select two or three focus areas and take a variety of courses either for purposes of exploration as you determine a pathway, or because you wish to complete a degree that has multiple focus areas that fit in with your future academic or career plans.  Either way, our Mustang Success staff can assist you in setting up a plan that meets your needs and interests.

Absolutely!  We want you to be happy with the academic choices you make as these will affect your future college transfer or career decisions.  If you decide to switch to a different pathway, please go to Mustang Success to request to change programs.  Before doing that, here are some things to be aware of:

Check with Financial Aid before switching pathways to make sure that you have enough aid eligibility remaining to be able to complete a new program.  If your current and potential programs take you past 96 credits, you may not be eligible for the funding needed to cover the remaining credits to complete your new degree. Changing pathways may require a change in your advisor. Programs cannot be changed until the end of a semester or prior to the start of a semester.

While you are always able to take a course not listed on your pathway, please be aware that if you are receiving federal financial aid, it will not pay for courses not on your pathway.  If you are paying for courses yourself, there is no problem.  If federal financial aid is paying, then you need to stick to the courses – primary and optional – that are listed on your pathway.    
We want your credits to transfer!  Western has articulation agreements with several colleges and universities and we are continually working to develop more agreements each year.  Several Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees at Western have a “2+2” agreement with the corresponding degree at the University of Wyoming.  This means that you will transfer toUW with junior standing after completing your degree at Western.  Our degrees transfer to other colleges and universities as well.  If you are planning to transfer to another institution, we recommend that you confirm with the transfer institution that your Western courses transfer and meet the requirements of the transfer program.  Not all courses transfer equally and acceptance of courses is always up to the receiving institution.

Watch for the annual transfer fairs at Western in which several colleges and universities come to the Rock Springs campus to promote their institutions and programs.  The University of Wyoming and other institutions visit Western throughout the year to recruit our graduates. 

 If you know where you are transferring to after graduating from Western, it is important that you bring the program of study from the transfer institution to your Western advising appointment.  This information will assist you and your advisor in planning your schedule and ensuring a seamless transfer to your next college or university.

Have we answered your questions?  If not, please see our Mustang Success staff in Room A212 at the Rock Springs Campus or call 307-382-1660 for more information.

Want to learn more about us?

Western is an award-winning college in both our on-campus and distance learning programs. We believe our students come first, and your success is our #1 priority. Our motto says it best: “Enter with passion, leave with purpose”. Let us help you on your path to success!