The University of Charleston in West Virginia was originally conceived as a Methodist seminary and spent the first year of its existence as such before becoming a college in 1889. Disaffiliated from the church and moved in to several buildings in downtown Charleston by the Great Depression, it unified under its present name by 1978 and has remained at its riverside location since.
Utilizing its proximity to West Virginia’s capital and all the top state medical, research, and business hot seats, it offers an experiential learning environment for its now 1500 member student body. Bringing in largely undergraduates, but also offering two graduate level degrees and several certificate options, it has gained notoriety as both the best college in West Virginia (US News & World Report) and as one of 12 schools nationally recognized as an exemplary “first year experience”.
Academics majors for Bachelor seekers number around 20 and include innovative programs not found at larger schools. There’s a 3-year degree program for Business majors, with 4 specialization choices and an option to continue on to their Master’s degree in two more years (5 total for non-math majors). UC also offers an Education BA with teacher certifications in 6 areas (e.g. Elementary, Social Studies),nursing options for both Associate and Bachelor seekers, a dual Chemistry-Biology BS achievable in the traditional 4-years, and even a “Discovery Program” whereby advisors help pick a class schedule for an undecided student that will “earn credit toward most academic majors, while you discover your true goals”.
Graduates have either an MBAL program (Master of Business Administration and Leadership) or, since 2006, a Doctor of Pharmacy program. UC also offers certificates in Global Citizenship and Historic Preservation (significant as their college president lives in a home listed on the National Register of Historic Places), in addition to an ROTC program in Military Science offered in cooperation with West Virginia State University.
There is currently no online learning or degree option offered, though there are numerous links to online aids like practice tests, English tutoring, and math help. The UC Graduate School of Business does offer two degrees for working professionals in a format requiring every other Friday evening and Saturday to achieve (an Executive Master of Business Administration and an Executive Master of Forensic Accounting), but that is the only real distance learning option.
UC also maintains an online journal for the college, which give the specifics on the university’s “Learning Your Way” program, designed to give credit towards a degree through prior learning, portfolio presentations, guided internships (location in the capital has numerous benefits), and real-life experience. Allowing a student to “tailor a curriculum to fit specific career goals”, the LYW program can help a student get started on their major earlier, have time to work towards a second major of study, and “integrate your in class learning with community service and extracurricular learning”.
Still growing, but already offering a solid academic base covering a broad area of educational needs, as well as giving students prime location to look for internships, conduct research projects, and really get some hands on learning, the University of Charleston is moving in the right direction.