A new program at Oakton Community College will offer nontraditional students the opportunity to complete their bachelor’s degree in business administration while staying closer to home.

Through a partnership with Northern Illinois University, students at Oakton who complete an associate’s degree in business may now transfer seamlessly to NIU-Hoffman Estates and complete their bachelor’s degree.

The agreement between NIU and five community colleges including Oakton was signed Friday at NIU’s Hoffman Estates campus.

The program is designed for students who may have work and family obligations that prevent them from enrolling full-time at NIU’s campuses in DeKalb or Rockford, but can attend evening and weekend classes locally.

To qualify, a student must earn an associate of arts or associate of science degree or have completed 60 hours of transferable credit; complete 10 lower level business core courses with a grade of C or better; earn a minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA in all transferable college course work; and complete NIU application and admission forms.

“Whenever we can forge a partnership that removes barriers for our students and facilitates their pathway to completion, we can and should celebrate,” said Oakton President Margaret B. Lee.  “I am grateful to my colleagues at Oakton and our partner institutions who worked on all of the details that brought us to this agreement.”

“The partnership provides a new pathway that is extremely important for Oakton students who are looking to continue their education in the area of business beyond Oakton, but need the convenience of a location closer to home,” said Dean of Social Sciences and Business Brad Wooten. “Several Oakton instructors in the business area have been advocating for such an opportunity, and having this partnership with NIU provides our academic advisers and faculty with an additional option to promote to our students to help them complete their academic goals.”

NIU officials say classes for the program at the NIU-Hoffman Estates campus will require a minimum of 20 students and would most likely begin next January.   

“An educated workforce is critical to growing our region’s competitiveness,” said NIU President Douglas Baker. “Expanding baccalaureate completion opportunities, improving transitions, and providing students with incentives for degree-completion through compacts such as this helps move our state toward this goal.”

Under the newly signed agreement, Oakton, NIU, and the colleges in the consortium will measure the effectiveness of the program by sharing information, particularly focusing on low-income and first-generation students.

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