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A new collaboration between University of North Texas and Merit America, a nonprofit organization helping adults without bachelor’s degrees transition into skilled careers, will help students achieve goals to further their education and accelerate their careers.
The current economy, COVID-19 and unemployment have created the need for many to acquire new skills that will ensure job retention. UNT’s collaboration with Merit America offers options, for those who prefer to start with flexible high-demand skills training with an option to progress into a degree program later.
“We couldn’t be more excited about our partnership with Merit America,” said Adam Fein, UNT Vice President of Digital Strategy and Innovation. “Not only do we share a mission to provide world-class, inclusive learning for all students, but we have complementary, cutting-edge programs that are changing the way people experience post-secondary education.”
Merit America offers part-time training in IT Support, Java Development and CNC Developing to help people move into in-demand STEM careers. The program is offered to students who are currently employed and have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree. No payment is required until the student meets a salary threshold. Flexible class schedules and one-on-one career coaching take around 20 hours per week and are presented through a 100 percent virtual and digital experience.
Through the collaboration, Merit America students who decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree will be eligible to enroll in UNT’s Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences program on Coursera, the world’s leading online learning platform. UNT was the first U.S. university to offer a bachelor’s degree through Coursera in fall 2020. Students who must postpone their B.A.A.S. on Coursera program because of financial or other life hardships will be eligible to consider continuing their education through the Merit America program.
An estimated 35% of jobs in the U.S. require at least a bachelor’s degree, yet 36 million Americans have attended some college, but never completed their degree. The B.A.A.S. is one of the fastest, most affordable ways for transfer students from community colleges and technical institutions, veterans or active-duty military personnel, and other non-traditional students with college credit to earn their bachelor’s degree.
“Hardworking, talented people need pathways to opportunity now more than ever,” said Connor Diemand-Yauman, Merit America Co-CEO. “We’re thrilled to provide Merit America graduates the opportunity to translate their efforts into college credit through our collaboration with UNT."