Jones College & William Carey University partnership equals more options to earn degrees

William Carey University Executive Vice President, Dr. Ben Burnett proudly announces two new agreements that will help Jones College students including Career and Technical Education graduates the option to quickly earn degrees at William Carey University.

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Jones College & William Carey University partnership equals more options to earn degrees

ELLISVILLE – The recent partnership between Jones College and William Carey University equals more options for students to earn bachelor’s degrees than ever before, in a shorter amount of time and with less costs.

“Together, partnerships like this create more pathways to degrees for our students,” said Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith. “The end goal is to have more health care professionals in every community. There’s no better way to create more pathways than to use existing resources. We’re leveraging those resources to provide health care in every small town in Mississippi.”

The first of two Memorandum of Agreements (MOU) between Jones College and William Carey University will expand the growing options for nursing students to earn bachelor’s degrees while also earning their associate degree at the same time. The dual enroll nursing option includes William Carey University instructors teaching two bachelor of nursing courses on the Ellisville campus of Jones College, with students paying the Jones College tuition rate. Additionally, Jones students and faculty will have access to WCU advisors to ensure students are on the right career and degree path.

“This will take (nursing students at Jones College) towards their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, otherwise known as the BS to BSN degree. Jones students will get a head start in getting those degrees,” said William Carey University Associate Vice President of Health Programs and Dean of the College of Health Sciences, Dr. Janet Williams. We will also offer (dual enrollment) with our HAE (Health Administration and Education) program. All of this helps students get a head start in earning their degrees. We look for every advantage to help students do big things in the future.”

As nursing shortages reach critical stages in the state, providing more education pathways is part of the answer. Jones College has a similar partnership with the University of South Alabama’s nursing program. Providing more options with the addition of William Carey University’s nursing dual enrollment option can only help resolve the crisis.

“If you want to stop the nursing shortage you have to increase supply to stop demand,” said Williams. “Everything we can do to increase the supply, including the number of nursing faculty. If you increase the number of faculty, you can increase the number of nursing students.”

Williams added that as a state, nursing schools turn away almost as many qualified applicants as colleges can admit because they don’t have the faculty and resources to be able to handle the number of students interested in nursing. Assistant Dean of Health Sciences at Jones College, Teresa McDonald said she is excited about the possibilities with this partnership.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunities offered to our students on campus with this partnership. When Covid hit, it was like throwing gas on the fire as far as the nursing shortage. It caused tremendous complications,” said McDonald. “WCU’s new degree options are great for students because these graduate programs lead to improved salary and administration opportunities.”

Another caveat to the partnership agreement between the two institutions of higher learning is the expansion of pre-professional programs. Williams said WCU has been working on ways to create a 3+ 3 program by expanding Jones College’s pre-professional health programs which will place JC students on the path to grad school at WCU.

“We have several professional programs or doctorate degrees available at WCU in physical therapy, pharmacy, nursing, and health administration and education. When Jones students complete their two years in the pre-professional program, they will come to WCU for their third year, and they can apply to grad school. It won’t guarantee admission, but it guarantees an interview to go through this fast track. Earning a professional degree in six years versus eight years is a huge advantage for students,” said Williams.

WCU’s goal is to offer every community college in Mississippi fast-track opportunities into the health care related professional programs. Executive Vice President at William Carey University, Dr. Ben Burnett said the second MOU announced at Jones College gives Career and Technical Education (CTE) graduates more options. By accepting CTE credits, CTE graduates now have a pathway at WCU to quickly earn a BA, BS, and the newly created Bachelor of General Studies.

“WCU is providing two different pathways for the career tech grads who ordinarily think once they earn their CTE degree, they go right into the workforce. Now, there are a couple of degree options where they can continue their education, in any major and use CTE hours,” said Burnett. “Flexibility-that’s how higher education is changing, and Jones College is the first institution we’ve partnered with to offer these new opportunities.”

This is the first private university Jones College has partnered with that will now accept CTE credits toward earning bachelor’s degree. All eight public universities currently have this articulation agreement with all 15 community colleges in Mississippi. Smith noted that Jones students who are enrolled in associate of applied science degree programs, like computer programming and electromechanical engineering technology are among the students who can take advantage of these new options and combine the AAS degree credits to earn a bachelor’s degree at WCU in math or science for example.

Burnett isn’t shy about recruiting community college students, but he doesn’t want to “steal” students from Jones College. He shared that William Carey University heavily depends on this group of students.

“We don’t exist without community college transfer students. Forty percent of WCU students are community college transfers. We want to partner with you in any and in every way mutually beneficial to make Mississippi stronger. We know (Jones College) is doing that and WCU wants to partner with you,” said Burnett.

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