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Southwest Baptist University plans to launch SBU Worldwide in the fall semester.
SBJ file
Southwest Baptist University plans to launch SBU Worldwide in the fall semester.

SBU Worldwide set to launch this fall

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Southwest Baptist University’s reach is set to expand later this year with the launch of a fully accredited online campus.

SBU Worldwide will offer 100% online degree and certificate programs to students, beginning with the fall 2023 semester, according to a news release. It initially will focus most of its courses in business administration and health sciences. Both programs will provide associate and bachelor’s degrees, along with an MBA degree. SBU also is partnering with higher education technology provider Campus in the fall to begin offering certificate programs in cybersecurity, according to the release.

The new offering from the Bolivar-based university is intended to make its educational opportunities available online to those who have work, family or military obligations, or seek flexible learning options, according to its website.

“Access to quality higher education, regardless of one’s circumstances, is a core differentiator here at SBU and a primary objective for the Worldwide campus,” SBU President Rick Melson said in the release. “In the spirit of bringing down walls and providing access to opportunity, the SBU Worldwide campus will ensure every student has all required course materials on the first day of classes for a single, discounted rate.”

Tuition per credit hour for courses in health sciences is $410 and it ranges $390-$565 for business administration classes, according to its website. An educational material fee of $25 per credit hour covers all books, digital and printed, and the course materials provided by Marion, Indiana-based educational technology company Slingshot. A $50 technology fee also is charged per three-hour course. Tuition discounts are available to active-duty military service members, veterans and their spouses.

“The technology fee helps offset some of the ongoing costs of technology used to support the SBU Worldwide campus,” SBU spokesperson Andrea Copeland said via email, noting those include a learning management system, student software licenses and video creation services.

Copeland said SBU Worldwide will launch with web-based learning management system Canvas as its digital classroom for students.

“We will be integrating chat and video features to enhance instructor interactions and student engagement and collaboration, and online tutoring and research services to support distance learners wherever they may reside,” she said.

While declining to disclose SBU’s total investment in its online campus, Copeland pointed to several staff moves in recent months related to the launch. That included the hiring of Ron Miller as the school’s first vice president for online learning and Marcus Akers as the director of strategic initiatives for online learning. SBU also has a $595,000 U.S. Department of Education grant obligated for expansion of its online programs, she said.


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