The University of South Florida, Pasco-Hernando Community College, Hillsborough Community College, St. Petersburg College, and Polk State College have made earning an Associate in Arts degree easier with a new reverse transfer of credit agreement.
The agreement will allow PHCC and the three other Florida College System (FCS) institutions to award the Associate in Arts degrees to eligible students. Qualifying students must have earned a sum of 60 credit hours needed to complete the degree between coursework completed at one of the FCS institutions and USF. This joint effort addresses the increased demand for higher education and more highly skilled professionals by improving student access to two-year degrees.
USF President Judy Genshaft as well as the presidents of each of the four Florida College System institutions forged the agreement, made official at a signing event hosted by USF-Tampa on Monday, February 4. PHCC will identify students who have earned enough credits to be awarded an Associate in Arts degree and will inform qualifying students of their new credential.
“This is an example of higher education partners working together to better serve students,” said PHCC President Katherine Johnson, Ed.D. “Now students who have completed some academic coursework at one of our regional Florida College System institutions and USF—but did not complete a degree—will have those credits applied toward an associate degree.”
Students in the Tampa Bay area, local employers and the region’s overall economy all stand to benefit from the agreement.
“Receiving an Associate in Arts degree is a milestone for many students already in the university system and for those who are in the workforce or job market,” explained Johnson. “The AA degree is a marketable credential valued by employers. With the AA degree in hand, students demonstrate the achievement of a higher education goal. For many, the AA degree also provides a motivational boost as well—marking the halfway point to completing a bachelor’s level degree.”
This agreement builds on a partnership established by USF, HCC, PHCC and SPC in November 2011, to provide students with a clear pathway to earning associate and bachelor’s degrees. The effort comes on the heels a report released in January by the National Commission on Higher Education Attainment, urging colleges and universities to find ways to provide students with credit for previously completed coursework in hopes of improving graduation rates.
Nearly 70 percent of PHCC students transferring to four year institutions opt to work on bachelor’s level degrees at the University of South Florida.