Until recently, a bachelor’s degree, for most college graduates, was the ticket to a fruitful job search. However, as businesses have embraced evolving technologies at a seemingly breakneck pace, their expectations of job applicants have evolved as well. Researchers, including administrators at Ensign College, have observed this evolution, responding with updated degree offerings designed to meet the demand for capable employees.
Many employers have experience hiring graduates whose bachelor’s degrees left them heavy on theory and light on practical skills and application. They no longer have the budget or capacity to train new hires with management and tech skills or teach them processes and methods. Instead, today’s employers increasingly expect skilled, experienced business professionals from the start – people who can go right to work and contribute in meaningful ways on day one.
A new approach to the curriculum of a bachelor’s degree is emerging with many colleges, particularly with many community colleges. The Bachelor of Applied Science Degree (BAS) directly addresses the needs of employers through its focus on skills and applied curriculum. According to InsideHigherEd.com, as many as 26 states have passed legislation allowing community colleges to offer four-year degrees, most of them are BAS degrees. Pew, a global research and public policy organization, reports that these affordable niche degrees help prepare professionals to meet local workforce needs with fewer travel demands.
Ensign College, known for its focus on applied learning and skills-based curriculum, offers a limited number of BAS degrees. “When we began thinking about offering bachelor’s degrees, it was obvious we would remain true to our approach of skills-based learning,” says Brent Andrus, the Program Chair of Business Management at Ensign College. “Our entire teaching philosophy centers around providing students immersive learning experiences. The BAS degree fits us better than the BS degree because of the applied nature of a BAS degree.”
The BAS is a highly specialized professional undergraduate program, often including industry-specific certifications. It is geared towards providing professional management skills, advanced technical training, and preparing students to be capable leaders in their field. “This distinction,” says Andrus, “is what sets the applied skills approach apart from traditional bachelor’s degrees. Practicing what they are learning through practical, hands-on scenarios is so powerful in business management. As a result, our students develop real-world skills and graduate ready for entry-level work on day one.”
In keeping with this market demand trajectory, Ensign College only offers applied science and skills-based degrees and certificates. “The applied Ensign College curriculum means the College is uniquely positioned to prepare students with in-demand skills within the first two semesters,” explains Ensign College President Bruce C. Kusch. “Students are immersed in a learning environment where they act as agents of their own learning in the development of essential personal traits and professional capabilities.”
Says Andrus of Ensign College’s BAS of Business Management, “I believe we have put together a degree that provides students with broad and deep coverage of the most in-demand courses and programs available anywhere. Each course is designed to enhance teamwork and leadership, communication, technical skills, problem-solving, and professionalism. In addition, students enjoy flexibility, choice in areas of specialization, and sufficient rigor to challenge them in their academic pursuits truly.”