The Floor Is Yours: Taking Questions from Ashford’s Students
I’ve always found that a university can learn a great deal about itself by hearing directly from its students. So, for this month’s blog article, I invited Ashford students to send in their questions. It was interesting to discover what our students are thinking about, and I enjoyed the process of trying to address their questions and concerns.
Will Ashford ever offer a Doctorate program?
The first question that was submitted concerns doctorate programs. Specifically, is Ashford ever going to offer doctorate degree programs? The simple answer: yes! The more complex answer: when? Our current goal is to offer more online master’s programs. We recently received final approval for three new master’s degree programs rolling out this month (Master of Arts in Psychology, Master of Accountancy, and Master of Science in Criminal Justice). This is all part of the effort to grow and strengthen a graduate culture that serves our grad students, as well as our undergraduates. This effort is already well underway. Down the road, the first doctorate we’d be looking at would be in Business and offered through the Forbes School of Business at Ashford University. I think we’re a couple of years away from achieving that goal, but it’s definitely in our sights.
How will Ashford remain competitive with other online universities?
The second question I received is about Ashford’s strategies or plans to stay competitive with our peers. This question is pretty complex and detailed, but I’ll try to give a concise answer. We’re adding new features in the Ashford Writing Center, exploring competency-based learning, adding materials from Forbes to our business courses, upgrading many of our existing courses, and moving our Student Services to an increasingly individualized model. Tailoring programs and support services to a student’s actual needs is a very important direction for Ashford University.
What new student resources can we expect?
The final question I have space for asks about the recent tuition increase and what new resources students can expect to see as a result of the increase. First, I’d like to add just a quick note that the increase in tuition was one of the lowest in the history of the institution. That being said, students can expect to see many new resources to enhance their Ashford experience. We’re adding Grammarly to the Ashford Writing Center, strengthening our Career Services Center, refining our advising processes, adding new degree programs, and providing faculty and advising support for our General Education courses, particularly for the first five courses.
It’s no coincidence that many of the resources I mentioned in the second and third answers above have helped Ashford sustain our work in some of the areas that WSCUC, our accrediting body, identified as particular strengths for Ashford during our last accreditation visit. Those strengths included key areas such as program review, assessment, faculty professional development, and mobile apps. Ashford is recognized as being especially strong in the areas of assessment and improvement. I think this is one of the reasons why Ashford remains on the leading edge of adult online education, and it is a great honor to be the President of such a forward-looking institution.
Dr. Richard L. Pattenaude is the President and CEO of Ashford University.