Created in 1852 to begin training ministers, in German, to address the spiritual needs of the newly settled Iowa area, the University of Dubuque was initially two students taught out of the home of a Presbyterian minister’s home. Though still strongly Presbyterian, with a renowned seminary program in place still, UD is today both a graduate and undergrad that “practices its Christian faith by educating students and pursuing excellence in scholarship”.
Coeducational since the turn of the century, the student body of around 1800 pursue not only religious degrees through the Theological School, but also degree tracts through the Schools of Business (with administration and computer information systems programs), Liberal Arts (departments from English to psychology), and Professional Programs (a nursing BSN to aviation management). Bachelor degrees are offered through all schools, in addition to 4 Master’s options (an M.Div and an MA in Religion, an MBA, and an MA in Communication), and a Doctor of Ministry.
Though they currently have no completely online degree program, that isn’t to say that there aren’t offering for distance learners at UD, especially out of their Theological School. Long offering required Presbyterian non-credit courses online through their Commissioned Lay Pastor program, they also offered a sampling of online Master of Divinity courses before finally introducing an accredited hybrid degree option in 2007. Distance learners can complete more than two-thirds of their M.Div. online from wherever they are, only having to travel to UD for two week, bi-annual intensive courses.
This year also saw the introduction of a second hybrid degree option, a Master of Arts tract in Missional Christianity, making UD the first Presbyterian seminary to offer two graduate theological degrees for distance learners. A cohort based program requiring the same bi-annual campus work as the M.Div., the M.A.M.C. program is able to be completed in about two and a half years.
UD also offers online courses in every semester, including and especially during the summer, allowing student to learn from wherever they are and on a more flexible time schedule than traditional classes. Eight week and twelve week classes range from Meteorology to Business Law, giving all majors a distance learning aspect to accelerate their degree work.
There is also an evening school option through their LIFE program (Learning Institute for Fulfillment and Engagement) that offers accelerated Bachelor and Master’s programs specifically for adults over 23 with at least 3 years work experience. With liberal credit transfers and experience equivalents, this flexible format offers an MBA tract (achievable in as few as 18 months), as well as Bachelor options (usually about 3 year programs) in Business Administration (with four major options), Health Care Leadership (3 specializations), and Criminal Justice. Undergrad classes meet once a week from 6-9 and also offer online class options in some majors, while graduate classes meet on campus only (again, once a week evenings). There’s even free tutoring and child care options, ensuring students can focus on education with all the aid of a traditional student.
With fantastic study abroad opportunities as well, UD utilizes its religious upbringing to create fine programs that tie education to service around the world and at home. With a growing distance learning option, especially in religious programs, UD is looking forward while remembering where they came from.