Programs for midcareer professionals and working adults offered through CSUN's Tseng College have features of high value for anyone seeking a graduate degree with both recognized academic quality and tight links to contemporary professional practice.
Students in CSUN programs for midcareer professionals gain the advantage of CSUN's exceptional graduate-degree programs with curricula that are carefully crafted to take full advantage of the strengths that midcareer professionals bring to the classroom as well as modes of instruction, delivery and support that have proved most effective in bringing these students to the highest levels of reflective and effective professional practice.
Features of importance include the following:
When it comes to graduate study, what is first and foremost is the quality of the faculty and its commitment to teaching midcareer professionals at the graduate level. CSUN engages leading practitioners and employers, so that its programs for midcareer professionals offered through the university's Tseng College are a comprehensive and engaged learning experience that builds on the experience of midcareer professionals, links them to the conversations and research at the forefronts of their fields, and prepares them to take leadership roles after graduation.
When CSUN considers offering an existing degree program or developing a new one for delivery to midcareer professionals through the Tseng College, the university gathers faculty and practitioners to consider how to structure the curriculum to give graduates the maximum advantage from a number of perspectives. These include new knowledge in the field, the cultivation of advanced conceptual skills (such as the ability to analyze information, define and solve problems, rethink standard practices, develop options and alternatives, lead organizations and introduce innovations), and the integration of experience with an advanced professional education that will prepare graduates not only for effectiveness in senior positions in their professions but also for roles as thought leaders in their fields.
With this aim in mind, nearly all CSUN programs for midcareer professionals offered through the Tseng College are taught in the cohort format. In this format, all students begin the program at the same time, progress through the courses together and graduate as a group. This format creates a strong learning community that not only helps participants to complete the program on time but also provides a comprehensive learning experience in which each successive course builds on those that preceded and lays the groundwork for those that follow. Another of the cohort format's most valued advantages is that it fosters the development of lasting professional networking relationships both among students and between students and faculty.
A growing number of CSUN graduate-degree programs for midcareer professionals are designed to have what CSUN calls a "stackable" curriculum. Developed through the Tseng College, stackable curricula feature not only core courses for each graduate-degree but also one or more integrated elective tracks. These tracks can be taken either as part of the degree program or to satisfy the requirements for a linked graduate-certificate, so that credits earned in the certificate program can be applied to the graduate degree's requirements should the certificate-holder decide to pursue the advanced degree at a later date.
Further, CSUN has found that a growing number of midcareer professionals are returning for second or even third master's degrees as they find interesting new directions for their careers. Graduate-credit certificates linked with CSUN master's degrees for midcareer professionals allow those with master's degrees to add additional areas of specialization to their credentials over time.
CSUN also recognizes that the demands of many professions today require advanced professional-preparation programs that draw on the expertise of faculty from more than a single field or discipline. CSUN has developed the capacity to design programs that draw on faculty expertise in a number of disciplines to give graduates the strongest possible professional preparation. This capability also enables CSUN to develop innovative programs that both address changing needs in the economy and have strong credibility with employers.
All CSUN programs offered through the Tseng College are designed to ensure that participants meet their educational goals and succeed in graduating.
While on-time graduation rates of 60 to 100 percent are commonplace in CSUN programs for midcareer professionals, most graduate-degree programs offered through the Tseng College have been achieving on-time graduation rates of 70 to 90 percent, while some programs have achieved the occasional 100 percent and more than the occasional 90 percent. Few other providers have achieved these levels of student success.
All aspects of graduate programs offered through CSUN's Tseng College are crafted to meet the needs of midcareer professionals. Most scheduling (evenings, weekends, and/or online) allows students to take one course at a time (typically, two courses per term in back-to-back, eight-week formats), so that students can focus on the demands of each course without distraction. Scheduling is year-round so that the typical master's degree can be completed in less than two years.
A growing number of CSUN graduate programs for midcareer professionals are being offered fully online. The online curriculum design employs the cohort format to create a cohesive and supportive learning community for midcareer professionals.
CSUN online programs are designed to be effective through the collaboration of CSUN faculty with instructional-design and educational-technology professionals in the Tseng College's Distance Learning Unit. CSUN faculty and practitioners who teach in the university's online graduate programs receive individualized training and ongoing support to ensure instructional excellence and the smooth and effective use of online educational technology. The Tseng College's professional distance-learning staff also provides training and beginning-to-end technical support to those who enroll in CSUN's online degree programs.
CSUN's fully online graduate-degree programs offer participants a carefully crafted curriculum taught by the same faculty and practitioners who teach these programs on the CSUN campus. Online program accreditation and evaluation standards as well as on-time graduation rates and student-success rates on required licensing exams are as high as those achieved in their face-to-face counterparts.
Through its Tseng College, which is not state funded, CSUN is able to provide the kind of responsive student support services that one would expect to find only at very high-priced private and/or for profit universities. These services include both coordinators and academic leads, who are assigned to each program and cohort to ensure that all enrolled have direct personal support for administrative and academic issues. Students in CSUN degree programs for midcareer professionals need only contact their assigned program coordinators to access the wider range of university services and navigate all aspects of their relationship with the university from application through graduation.
Financial aid professionals who are focused on the needs of part-time students work only with CSUN programs for midcareer professionals. The application process is online and designed to allow quick response and early communication. For online programs, technical support is just an e-mail – or a call – away.
In fact, the educational technologies specialists assigned to each online program and cohort develop strong working relationships with those enrolled, so that the students soon discover that their support is coming from real people at a real university who are dedicated to helping them to succeed – and not a "help desk" somewhere in the ether.
CSUN programs for midcareer professionals are not funded with state dollars. As a result, CSUN is able to make investments in various features of high value to midcareer professionals that might not otherwise be possible. These high-value features include time invested in curriculum design, ongoing program reviews and updates, team teaching and field projects, online and off-site program delivery, cohort formats, extensive support services, and more.
Because these programs are priced to be self-supporting, the tuition is higher than for programs offered with state funding, but students in CSUN's programs for midcareer professionals are not charged the full range of campus fees because they do not participate in the typical range of student-life programs and services. Tuitions are also typically well below those charged by private and/or for-profit providers offering similar programs for midcareer professionals without the many advantages offered by CSUN as a large and respected California public university. In fact, the value proposition for midcareer professionals who choose CSUN for their advanced professional education is outstanding – and, for some, surprisingly so.
While CSUN graduate programs for midcareer professionals offer exceptional educational advantages for individual working adults, the university – through the Tseng College – can also offer significant, competitive options and advantages to employers. Examples: