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Washington State University
Dividend - Fall 2023 Features

Partnership Boosts Bachelor Degree Accessibility

By Corrie Wilder

Scholarly Assistant Professor Mark Beattie, center, celebrates commencement with WSU Everett students.
Photo by WSU Photo Services

Recent collaboration between Washington State University Everett and Everett Community College makes pursuing a bachelor’s degree more accessible and equitable.

The Degree Partnership program (DPP), an innovative approach in Washington state, enables students to attend classes concurrently at WSU Everett and EvCC, seamlessly transfer credits, combine credits for financial aid, and use facilities and services at both institutions.

The DPP launched in August at the start of fall semester with the business administration and hospitality business management programs. Both institutions’ faculty and student services are developing additional DPP curriculum pathways for cybersecurity, communication, and data analytics.

“The DPP allows students to focus on their academic and career goals and spend less time and money navigating the transfer pathway,” says Paul Pitre, WSU Everett chancellor. “We have a shared commitment to student success. Our collaboration breaks down barriers, improves access, and makes the education continuum easier to navigate. It’s a win for our graduates and our community.”

Students enrolled in the DPP receive automatic transcript updates to WSU Everett every term, access to advisors on both campuses, and transfer guidance. The DPP also covers financial aid for both institutions, and more credits are likely to transfer to new institutions.

“EvCC is excited to partner with WSU Everett to expand equitable access to education for Trojans and Cougs,” says Darrell Cain, former interim EvCC president. “By leveraging the resources of both colleges, students participating in the DPP will have comprehensive support from the start to help them reach their academic goals and prepare for successful careers.”

Partnership program addresses barriers in transfer pathway

Research shows that transitioning from community college to a four-year institution can be financially and logistically complicated for students. Credit transfer is one of the biggest hurdles. Students typically lose about 40 percent of their credits when they transfer, the equivalent of a semester of full-time enrollment. The degree partnership program addresses this barrier with a joint application, specialized advising at both institutions, increased flexibility in scheduling, and access to libraries, computer labs, and student organizations on both campuses.

“I have been working toward this goal for quite some time,” says Anna McLeod, WSU Everett’s director of student services. “The DPP is an intentional, supportive program that ensures students are engaged with WSU Everett advising, services, and student involvement while attending EvCC. It’s a seamless pathway for our students to pursue a bachelor’s degree. It’s exciting to know we are improving access to postsecondary education in Snohomish County!”

Research shows DPP students are more successful in college

The WSU Everett/EvCC program is modeled after a successful DPP launched in 1998 between Oregon State University (OSU) and Linn- Benton Community College. A recent study shows that DPPenrolled students take fewer credits, save money, avoid unnecessary student debt, and have higher GPAs and graduation rates than traditional transfer students. The program has since grown to include partnerships between OSU and more than 20 community colleges in Oregon and Hawaii.

Laurie Franklin, EvCC’s vice president of student services, worked in OSU’s Financial Aid and Scholarships Office in the earliest days of the DPP. “When the thoughts of how to serve more transfer students surfaced, the innovative and groundbreaking ideas came to fruition, and I didn’t realize the impact this model would have in the future,” she says. “Twenty-five years later, it’s humbling to see how it changed and affected students’ lives, and I’m happy to see it being developed here between EvCC and WSU Everett.”

“Transfer students should have the same access to bachelor’s degrees as traditional students,” says Alex Tadio, WSU Everett’s associate director of student services. “The DPP breaks down barriers by providing a seamless pathway to transition between our institutions.”