Bachelor’s Degree approved for Central Wyoming College

The center of the Central Wyoming College campus in Riverton

Central Wyoming College received approval from the Higher Learning Commission on March 20 for the Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational Management and Leadership degree.

“This degree provides access to bachelor-level education for members of our community who could not obtain the degree by other means,” said Kathy Wells, vice president for academic affairs. “It is an important educational tool for growing and sustaining our community’s economy.”

The bachelor of applied science degree will have two options: business-entrepreneurship leadership or tribal leadership. Students will be able to declare the bachelor’s degree and choose which option they want to pursue during the admissions process. 

The degree will develop the knowledge, skills and abilities required to successfully manage and lead with public, private, government or nonprofit organizations.

Knowledge and education is so important. Increasing a student’s abilities and knowledge base to advance in a career is important and is a goal CWC has set for this degree. ”

Lael Noonan, director of the bachelor of applied science degree

The degree will be an option for many students whether it is for the high school student who declares the degree during enrollment, the non-traditional student who wants to go back to school or the student who has a trade degree and wants to earn a bachelor’s degree to advance in the workplace.

“I think it’s a great avenue to go into especially if you haven’t been in school for a while,” Noonan said. “There’s a lot of grace in this program which allows exploration and getting your feet wet.”

This degree is applicable to the individual who has a career that wants to advance, Noonan said. Currently, there aren’t bachelor’s degrees for specific trades such as cosmetology, welding and automotive. This degree would allow those students to earn an associate’s degree to hone in their craft and earn a bachelor’s degree to advance in the workforce into supervisory roles. 

Students will be able to gain leadership knowledge with both options. Both have a similar focus but also have unique learning outcomes. The degree will incorporate practicums and internships.

“Central Wyoming being in the locality that it is, there’s a lot more opportunities for hands-on experience so this tribal leadership/entrepreneurship program allows students to have experience in Fremont County, on the reservation with partnering agencies,” said Tarissa Spoonhunter, associate professor of American Indian studies. “With the BAS we’re allowed to tailor this to meet the needs of our community and the county.”

With the tribal leadership option, Spoonhunter said this degree is for anyone who desires to be a tribal leader, program director, educator, or nationbuilder on the Wind River Reservation. This will give an individual tools to be able to develop as a tribal leader. Spoonhunter said it’s important for someone to empower and share tribal knowledge with the community.

“The BAS gives a breakdown of some issues we face as tribal people; in leadership governance,” she said. “This allows for past and future tribal leaders to come together and start having conversations; teaching each other things we would hope to continue as education is transferred from one generation to the next.”

From the entrepreneurship option the idea behind the degree is to help students advance in careers or own and operate their own businesses. 

“We want to provide our communities with economical growth and provide skills for our area,” said Brittany Yeates, assistant professor of business. “The business emphasis provides those skills necessary for advancing and growing businesses in home towns and in the communities we love and serve.”

The option for students to enroll in the bachelor’s program will start this fall. The degree will come with some flexibility with courses offered online, in classroom and with some night classes. Students who have already completed an associate’s degree can start taking the upper-level courses in the bachelor of applied science degree. 

“The process for obtaining full approval to offer this degree was a long and rigorous journey, which began with the faculty designing the curriculum last summer and concluded with an on-site visit from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) in early December,” Wells said. “The final decision by the HLC granted CWC full approval without contingencies, which is the best case scenario. This decision sends the message that CWC’s BAS degree has been deemed as a high quality, pivotal program that will meet the educational needs of the communities we serve. I am so proud of all the individuals involved in this process – it is because of their hard work and determination through the long approval process that CWC was granted full approval.  We could not be more excited to admit our first BAS students in the fall.”  

For more information about the bachelor of applied science degree please email bas@cwc.edu, call 307-855-2106 or go to www.cwc.edu/leadtheway.