Academic Pathways

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Western has more than 60 academic pathways that are designed to help your student earn their degree within 2 years or less if they are a full-time student, and within 8 semesters or less if they are part-time. Your student can earn a certificate in a semester or a year, depending on the program you choose.  

These pathways are aligned to ensure students have the skills required by 4-year institutions and the labor market, ensuring they can continue their studies and/or advance in their chosen career.  

By following the pathways plan from the start, your student will have a clear road map of the courses they need to earn your degree or certificate. Our faculty and support staff will provide guidance and support along the way to help students stay on track.  

Pathways help them to complete their degree on schedule and keep costs down when they are not taking extra courses that are not part of their degree plan. This helps you to efficiently translate their transfer goals and career aspirations into a completed degree and/or certificate. We want to help them complete their degree or certificate in a way that works best for them. 

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 students to proceed at their own pace, giving them the opportunity to finish as quickly as they feel comfortable doing. 

Check out our pathways programs today and help guide their passion into purpose!

 

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

At Western, we help your student select a program of study and then stay on track with a clearly delineated pathway.  The courses in their program have been specifically selected to fit within the program as a whole – they enhance the content of other program courses and allow them to make connections across courses.  Pathways allow they to progress through their program more efficiently and help them avoid the extra time and cost that can occur if they 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 your student complete an Associate’s degree in 2 years or less as a full-time student, depending on the number of credits they might transfer in from high school dual or concurrent courses or another college.  Part-time pathways have been created to allow them to complete their degree in 8 semesters. 

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

We understand that your student might not know what program they 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 your student to have a little time to explore and still stay on track.  Just remember that the more time they 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 your student to select two or three focus areas and take a variety of courses either for purposes of exploration as they determine a pathway, or because they wish to complete a degree that has multiple focus areas that fit in with their future academic or career plans.  Either way, our Mustang Success staff can assist your student in setting up a plan that meets their needs and interests.

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

Your student should check with Financial Aid before switching pathways to make sure they have enough aid eligibility remaining to be able to complete a new program. If the current and potential programs take them past 96 credits, they may not be eligible for the funding needed to cover the remaining credits to complete their new degree. Changing pathways may require a change in your student's adviser. Programs cannot be changed until the end of a semester or prior to the start of a semester.

While they are always able to take a course not listed on their pathway, please be aware that if they are receiving federal financial aid, it will not pay for courses not on their pathway.  If they are paying for courses themselves, there is no problem.  If federal financial aid is paying, then they need to stick to the courses – primary and optional – that are listed on their pathway.    
We want your student's 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 your student will transfer toUW with junior standing after completing their degree at Western. Our degrees transfer to other colleges and universities as well.  If they are planning to transfer to another institution, we recommend that they confirm with the transfer institution, that their 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 your student knows where they are transferring to after graduating from Western, it is important that they bring the program of study from the transfer institution to their Western advising appointment.  This information will assist them and their adviser in planning their schedule and ensuring a seamless transfer to their next college or university.

 

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!