West Texas A&M University (WT) is partnering with institutions in Texas to make higher education a little more accessible for the citizens of Roscoe. Officials signed an agreement July 22, 2019, in Roscoe to begin a bachelor’s degree program in fall 2019.

Western Texas College (WTC) and Collegiate Edu-Nation (CEN), the new 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization from Roscoe Collegiate ISD, are WT’s newest collaborators and partners in the Innovation Degree, a bachelor’s degree designed so students do not have to leave the area. The degree program has many of the advantages of a local program and all the flexibility of an online degree.

“The degree is especially adaptable for students who want to qualify for graduate school in a variety of disciplines or employees who aspire to earn promotions, pay raises or are considering a different career field,” said Dr. Brad Johnson, vice president for strategic relations at WT. “WT has some of the lowest tuition rates among universities in Texas. Furthermore, we assist in identifying courses at Western Texas College that will apply to this degree and further reduce the cost.”

According to the U.S. Census, more than 9,000 people older than 25 years in the four-county area near Roscoe have some college but not a bachelor’s degree. Most are with jobs, mortgages, and family commitments that make it difficult to pursue a traditional academic degree, and research suggests most nontraditional students dislike the isolation often found in online degree programs.

WT and its partners developed the Innovation Degree in response to those challenges. The degree program utilizes up to 81 hours of prior college credit and has the flexibility to be tailored to the specific goals of each student. Students work with experienced advisors to devise their own set of courses from various disciplines all with staff support at the Roscoe Collegiate Academy.

“Through our Early College Program that provides students the opportunity to earn their associate degree prior to high school graduation, thanks to the long standing partnership between RCISD and WTC, we’re excited to now partner with WT to offer non-traditional support for students throughout the Big Country Area to complete bachelor’s and graduate degrees from right here in Roscoe,” Dr. Kim Alexander, chancellor of CEN, said. “This new system model for K-12 alignment with higher education could prove to be a real game changer for rural students throughout Texas and the U.S.”

The Innovation Degree is the most recent development growing out of the University’s generational plan, “WT125: From the Panhandle to the World.” This plan looks ahead to the year 2035, WT’s 125th anniversary, when the University will have attained doctoral status.