Archive for the ‘bachelor’s degrees’ Category

St. Petersburg College (SPC) has been listed among the top-ranked schools in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best Online Programs list, released today. It achieved rankings in three categories – Best Online Bachelor’s Program Overall, Best Online Bachelor’s Program in Business and Best Online Program for Veterans.

Not only did SPC rank nationally for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Business for the first time, but it tied for No. 1 within the Florida College System (FCS). The college placed third for Best Online Bachelor’s Program Overall and Best Online Bachelor’s Program for Veterans, compared to other FCS institutions.

Among all participating Florida colleges and universities, SPC placed No. 6 for Best Online Bachelor’s Program in Business, No. 8 for the Best Online Bachelor’s Program for Veterans, and No. 11 for Best Online Bachelor’s Program Overall.

“I’m extremely proud of these rankings and our faculty and staff’s tireless dedication to student success,” said SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams. “SPC continues to excel and ensure students have access to a first-rate education and the in-demand training they need, especially as they face the many obstacles posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

SPC is Florida’s first two-year college and the first to offer bachelor’s degrees. The college offers more than 110 degree and certificate programs, including many high-skill, industry-recognized workforce certifications.

“My sincere appreciation and congratulations to all of our bachelor’s program faculty members, whose dedication contributed to earning the Best Online Bachelor’s Program in Business and Best Online Bachelor’s Program Overall distinctions,” said Vicki Westergard, SPC Executive Director of Instructional Design and Development. “Online Learning and Services is honored to support deans and faculty in the development of high-quality online courses for our bachelor’s degree programs.”

SPC Veteran Affairs Coordinator Allison Shenofsky said the rankings illustrate the college’s commitment to supporting veterans.

“This award is a testament to the commitment our entire community has to the brave men and women of our nation’s military, and it is a testament to what we can achieve with hard work and perseverance! We’ve worked very hard to continue serving our students with that same level of quality during COVID-19.  I am so proud to see that the SPC family-students, staff and faculty alike-have continued to thrive and achieve excellence during such challenging times,” she said.

In September 2020, the college announced it ranked third among FCS institutions for the U.S. News & World Report 2021 Best Colleges study.

SPC also ranked #21 among public colleges in the southern region. These are the highest-ranked public colleges out of schools that participated in the 2020 study in the 12 states that make up the regional south.

Read Full Post »

Image of two college mascots, St. Petersburg College's Titus the Titan and the University of Central Florida's Knightro the KnightSt. Petersburg College and the University of Central Florida have partnered to offer a new program, which launched this Fall 2020 Term. The Transfer Connect program will allow students who are interested in staying in Pinellas County the opportunity to earn an Associate in Arts degree from SPC and then transfer to complete a bachelor’s degree from UCF Online.

Sheryl Mundorff, SPC’s Student Success and Transfer Coordinator, says this partnership broadens the horizons of Pinellas County students who may not otherwise have the means to travel out of town for college.

“As we try to promote higher education for all students in Pinellas County, we want to offer them every option available and not be limited to just one institution,” she said. “SPC has always been a strong online institution, so to be able to partner with another strong online program is a benefit to everyone involved.”

The program is not a guaranteed admissions articulation, so students will still need to meet the transfer admission requirements for UCF. Transfer Connect students will be assigned a UCF academic coach, Shannon Harmon, who will help them on their journey from SPC to UCF, but Mundorff said they will also be assigned an SPC advisor based on their degree/area of study to oversee their curriculum.

“Our advisors will work with them to make sure they meet UCF’s requirements while they’re studying at SPC,” Mundorff said.

Interested students should contact Mundorff at mundorff.sheryl@spcollege.edu or meet with their advisor to fill out the UCF student survey.

“We are very excited about this new partnership,” Mundorff said. “We look forward to working together to enhance institutional enrollment and continue to build solid partnerships across the state.”

Read Full Post »

ParalegalThis month, St. Petersburg College’s Legal Studies programs gained re-approval from the American Bar Association. The approval is for a period of seven years and follows the previous one held since 2012.

According to Dean Susan Demers, there are more than 1200 paralegal programs in the United States, but only 266 have received approval from the ABA. Though there are a few other Associate in Science programs throughout the state, SPC’s is the only ABA-approved program at a state institution.

“This means that this quality degree comes at the bargain state college tuition rate,” Demers said.

Dean Susan Demers

Dean Susan Demers

Since the ABA approves schools and not tracks, all three of SPC’s programs – the Associate in Science, the Bachelor’s of Applied Science and the post-four-year degree certificate – must meet the ABA’s rigorous guidelines.

After working with the ABA education consultant to line up the reporting complexities of the multiple program offerings and then documenting all learning down to the assignment level within the program, a two-member team visited SPC last September and met with students, faculty, administrative staff and the advisory committee to confirm our reports.

Demers said much was learned in the process.

“As with all self-studies, we learned many things that will make the program better and our graduates stronger,” she said. “I deeply value both the final approval and what we learned along the way.”

Read Full Post »

St. Petersburg College’s upcoming Baccalaureate Expo will spotlight the college’s 20 bachelor’s degree programs, inviting potential bachelor’s candidates to learn about career opportunities, explore financial aid possibilities, meet with faculty members and seek help from advisors for applying and registering for classes. But with the rising cost of an education, many question the value of a bachelor’s degree. Is it really worth it?

According to Mark Kantrowitz, a nationally recognized expert on student financial aid, scholarships and student loans, the answer is yes.

SPC Baccalaureate Expo

There were more than 20 million students expected to attend American colleges and universities in Fall 2015, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And with the average cost of tuition, fees, room and board ranging from around $16,000 to $23,000 per year, most of those students will graduate with debt. Kantrowitz said 2016 grads who borrowed to finance their degrees will leave college owing an average of $37,173 per student. But he also said research shows that, in spite of the cost, attaining a bachelor’s degree remains a solid investment.

Opportunities and Earning

The numbers are clear: A bachelor’s degree will earn you more money.

Based on economy and job projections calculated by Georgetown University, by 2018, approximately 63 percent of jobs will require some college education or a degree. In their article, “Do the Benefits of College Still Outweigh the Costs?,” Jaison Abel and Richard Deitz reported that over the past 40 years, those with a bachelor’s degree earned 56 percent more than high school graduates. They also concluded that the economic benefits of earning a bachelor’s degree lasted a lifetime, with degreed workers earning over $1 million more than high school grads over the course of their careers.


  • SPC Baccalaureate Expo
  • June 30 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Collaborative Labs, EpiCenter
  • RSVP here

Starting salaries are rising, with undergraduate degrees pulling in an average of $43,000 in 2015 – 7.5 percent higher than 2014, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

NCES also reports that college grads have lower unemployment rates than those of high school graduates, with bachelor’s degree holders, ages 24-65, at 3.4 percent in 2014, compared to high-school grads at 7.4 percent.

Where you go matters

Kantrowitz says that a degree is a good investment, but it does depend on what and where you study.

“It depends on the choice, rather than the necessity,” he said. “If you’re pursuing a less lucrative major, you can still get a quality education at a less expensive state college. You can stack the deck against yourself by going to a more expensive college.”

Networking Opportunities

Other benefits of a bachelor’s degree appear to be the networking opportunities of living and studying in a campus community, where students not only make friends and meet potential mates, but also make business connections. Harvard Business School estimates that 65 to 85 percent of jobs are acquired through networking, which, again, brings into play the importance of where you study.

“The difference between Ivy League schools and state colleges is not faculty or facilities,” Kantrowitz said. “The difference is the students. That’s why you should visit a school while it’s in session, so you can see how you’ll fit in.”


Many college students complete internships while working on their bachelor’s degree, which provide valuable experience and networking opportunities. Jacob Wortock, Employment & Internship Coordinator at SPC’s Seminole Campus, said internships are a gateway into your field of study.

“A lot of employers are looking for experience,” he said. “An internship will allow you to apply your classroom learning in a real-world situation, hone your professional self and build a network of connections in your field. In order to break into a field of study, an internship is pivotal.”

A Good Return on Your Investment

Abel and Dietz report that considering all costs, a bachelor’s degree has, on average, offered a return of around 14 to 15 percent annually. Considering that an investment in stocks yields around 7 percent annually and bonds yield an annual return of about 3 percent, the benefits of an investment in a bachelor’s degree double that of the stock market. Kantrowitz agrees.

“On the average, a degree pays for itself in about ten years. It’s not just a good investment. There is no better investment.”


Read Full Post »

Victoria Yore and Nicole Calle-Schuler, two St. Petersburg College Business students, won first place in the final leg of The Business Strategy Game, an international competition where students create a company and compete with other colleges and universities in a simulated global marketplace.

Part of the students’ final capstone project at SPC, the online assignment/competition teaches students the business and leadership skills of running a multimillion dollar company, as they work to sell branded and private label athletic footwear.


Pictured above from left after a recent College of Business Capstone presentation are Robin Wilber, SPC professor; Susanne Whitfield, International Business student; Tom Philippe, SPC professor; Victoria Yore, Business Administration student; Nicole Calle-Schuler, International Business student; Wendy Huehn-Brown and Amy Sauers, SPC professors. Yore and Calle-Schuler went on to place first in the international invitational.

Two other SPC teams came in second and sixth in the competition. To qualify for the invitational, the three SPC teams had to place first in a first-round simulation. In the final round, 216 teams from around the world competed in 18 different industries.

To win the first place spot, Yore and Calle-Schuler competed against students from California State, University of Texas and other large universities.

“Our capstone projects are another way we are preparing our students for the real world,” said SPC President Bill Law. “The fact that they are competing on an international level against thousands of university students and winning is a testament to both the students and the faculty!”

To date, SPC has had 32 winning teams that went on to compete in the international invitation with the following results:

  • 1st place – seven teams
  • 2nd place – eight teams
  • 3rd place – three teams

“I think it’s just amazing that 18 out of 32 teams from SPC have placed in the top three in a world business competition,” said Robin Wilber. “I am so proud of our students.”

SPC students’ success earned Wilber and SPC Professor Tom Philippe the designation of Master Professors in the Business Strategy Game Hall of Fame in 2011.

Learn more about:

Read Full Post »

St. Petersburg College’s (SPC) College of Education (COE) has been awarded a three-year, $5 million grant from the Florida Department of Education that will be used to restructure SPC’s College of Education elementary education programs.

TeachingDubbed the St. Petersburg College Centers of Excellence in Elementary Teacher Preparation, the program is a joint partnership between SPC and Pinellas County Schools, in collaboration with The New Teacher Project and Learning Sciences International. SPC is the only state college in Florida to receive the grant and was one of only four recipients statewide.

“This project is going to completely transform our elementary teacher preparation model at St. Petersburg College, which will in turn have enormous impact on Pinellas County students,” said St. Petersburg College President Bill Law. “We know that student achievement is inextricably linked to the effectiveness of the teacher in the classroom. This partnership will ensure our students receive the knowledge, experience and coaching necessary to become highly effective teachers equipped to increase the learning gains of their students.”

Through revamped and expanded curriculum, future teachers will gain a deeper knowledge of core subjects, with an increase in the number of required content-specific courses focused on math, science, and social studies. Additionally, they will take on richer and longer field experiences in the classroom, and learn through research-based approaches that incorporate coaching best practices and real-world teacher evaluation models.

“The College of Education is honored to be the recipient of the FLDOE Centers of Excellence in Elementary Teacher Preparation grant,” said Dr. Kimberly J. Hartman, Dean of the College of Education. “The redesign of the COE elementary education program will prepare our graduates to increase K-5 student learning and to be the most adept elementary educators in the state.”

SPC has long been a model for preparing qualified teachers: it was the first college in the Florida College System to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education. More recently, St. Petersburg College responded to a request from Dr. Michael A. Grego, Superintendent of Pinellas County Schools, to improve the pipeline of effective teachers by developing the Elite Educator Program. While the Elite Educator Program focuses on the first two years of study, the new Centers of Excellence in Elementary Teacher Preparation will expand on this partnership by focusing on the final two years of the bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

As nearly two-thirds of SPC’s Elementary Education bachelor’s degree graduates go to work for Pinellas County Schools, officials expect that K-5 student achievement will be substantially impacted.

“Pinellas County Schools is pleased to build on its strong partnership with St. Petersburg College to prepare future teachers for the classroom,” said Dr. Grego. “This project will help provide new teachers the resources, experience and feedback they need to be effective and to support student achievement.”

Read Full Post »

SPC graduates

SPC graduate Salwa Shamsi addresses fellow graduates.

About 680 St. Petersburg College graduates attended two commencement ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 13, at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks. Prior to the 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. processionals, SPC student Robert Kruithoff sang Christmas classics on a stage adorned with lighted Christmas trees and garland. Graduates entered the Worship Center to the cheers and shouts of hundreds of friends and family.

Inside and out, hundreds of tweets, photos and videos were shared on social media.

SPC graduates

SPC graduates enter the morning ceremony.

“Among our 1,888 graduates are 238 who are receiving more than one credential,” said SPC President Bill Law. “One hundred and six are between the ages of 50 and 60, and 20 of us are over the age of 60. Today, our oldest graduate is 70 and our youngest is 17. For every male graduate, there are two female graduates….five of our graduates will receive their diploma on their birthday.

“Including those awarded today, the number of degrees and certificates awarded by SPC since 1927 is 144,074.”

In delivering the morning invocation, the Rev. Clarence Williams from Greater Mount Zion A.M.E. Church in St. Petersburg wished graduates well, noting that “education is the new currency.”

Tammy Mintler speaks at the morning graduation.

Tammy Mintler speaks at the morning graduation.

Of the four students who addressed their peers at the ceremonies, graduate Tammy Mintler traveled the farthest – from Montana. She received her Bachelor of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology.

“To my fellow graduates: You are the one person on whom you can always depend,” said Mintler, who plans to teach vet tech. “The influence of others will wax and wane throughout our lives but we are ultimately responsible for our choices, our successes and failures. … we have achieved a certain level of success today, but our education is a tool that can help distinguish ourselves.

“Education itself is an opportunity and learning is a lifelong process. Learning is what keeps life interesting and challenging. As we learn, we grow. Learning is limited only by apathy, and we only truly fail when we stop trying. Don’t ever hesitate to accept the challenge of a new opportunity.”

Celeste Edwards speaks to graduates

Celeste Edwards speaks to graduates

Graduate Celeste Edwards, who received an Associate in Arts degree with a focus in psychology, delivered a more spiritual message. She plans on working in social work to make a difference in the lives of at-risk Florida youths.

“I’m the eldest of eight children and the last to graduate in my family,” said Edwards. “I remember the day this journey began … it was the way in which God chose for me to re-enter my life … after the loss of the love of my life.

“Now today, December 13, 2014, we all are standing on a foundation of love, encouragement, prayer and strength, along with the help and support from the writing lab, learning centers and tutors for whatever subject we needed help in. And I cannot forget the support and guidance and encouragement from my counselors, professors, instructors here at SPC.

“Class of 2014, keep building on your foundation. Always be an encouragement to others and always be willing to lend a helping hand. Give back what was given to you.”

Salwa Shamsi and Kathleen Bryan post before the afternoon graduation ceremony.

Salwa Shamsi and Kathleen Bryan post before the afternoon graduation ceremony.

The afternoon ceremony featured student speaker Salwa Shamsi, who received her Associate in Arts degree and Kathleen Bryan, who received her Bachelor of Applied Science in Health Services Administration.

In that invocation, Joseph Smiley, dean of Social & Behavioral Sciences, asked that students receive the “grace to make a difference for good, to allow them to make great contributions to society and be a special blessing to all those they touch on life’s highway.”

Shamsi, who plans to enroll at the University of South Florida to earn a bachelor’s degree in microbiology, told her peers: “We have accomplished one of the most major milestones of our lives: this is the first step in the journey of our unknown future, and we all should be recognized for this significant success.

“The choice we took to further our education has, and will, open many doors of opportunities. But this is not the end of our road; it is instead part of a longer, larger journey within our lives.

“So let us be remembered by holding on to our best values: caring for others, performing random acts of kindness, and leaving a great impact on our fellow humans because we should all be loved and all be valued.

“May our success add to the wealth of excellence that has been part of this great institution since that first graduating class in 1929.”

For Kathleen Bryan, second and third chances were something to celebrate.

“Back in 2009, I was laid off twice in five years,” said Bryan, who traveled to graduation from Dunnellon. “In a whirl wind I was enrolled in college, sitting in a classroom, with no books and no idea what I was going to do.”

Now, three degrees later, Bryan works for a medical company in Ocala.

“Nothing can stop you if you have determination and persistence,” said Bryan. “Look around you today; everyone is here to celebrate us and our determination to reach this goal. I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to quit, but with the support of my family and friends they pushed me which made me push myself.

“Just remember whatever dark cloud may linger over you, there is sunshine waiting to follow. Never give up on your dreams, go out and find a career that makes you happy, and you will never work.”

Read Full Post »

At the June Board of Trustees meeting, St. Petersburg College officials presented information on the college’s strategic priority of providing baccalaureate education and the success rates and demographics of those students. The typical SPC bachelor’s degree graduate is a 31-year-old female who works at least part-time and takes classes online.

This spring, the Florida Legislature barred all 28 Florida colleges from creating new bachelor’s degree programs for a year. Legislators want to review the rapid growth of such degree programs at state colleges, which produced 5,009 graduates in 2012-2013, nearly double the number from the previous two years.

Since 2001, state colleges have offered bachelor’s degrees to meet workforce needs, such as shortages of nurses and teachers. But lawmakers worry state colleges are competing with state universities. Today, 24 state colleges offer 175 bachelor’s degrees.

SPC began with three bachelor’s degrees, in nursing, education and information technology in 2001. It now offers 24. Since 2008, a total of 7,355 students have earned bachelor’s degrees from SPC, which averages 1,000 graduates a year. Baccalaureate students make up 12% of SPC’s enrollment and 20% of its graduates.

“Our baccalaureate students are not traditional students,” said Jesse Coraggio, Associate Vice President Institutional Effectiveness, Research and Grants. “When we talk about competition that may exist between the state college and the university, once you look at the data, there really is no competition. We’re talking about very different needs of students and very different student groups.”

Typically, bachelor’s degree students at SPC outperform lower division students “because they’ve already made it through that part of their academic career,” Coraggio said. They are more committed to graduating and earn their degrees in an average 6.7 semesters. Nearly 90% complete their program within three years. Their course success rates average 85%, compared to lower division course success rates of 74%.

They also earn more money. A report commissioned by the Legislature shows graduates with bachelor’s degrees earn about $18,000 more than those with associate degrees at the mid-point of their careers.

“These programs have been very instrumental in helping mid-career adults get a credential that will move them forward,” said SPC President Bill Law. “There is not a single program on that list that (University of South Florida) president Judy Genshaft did not sign off on in her office, and in fact most of them started in her office” as a way to take pressure off the university, he said.

BOT Chairman Deveron Gibbons called SPC’s bachelor’s degrees essential for those who cannot afford to attend a state university.

“I’m telling you right now, some of these folks would not be going to college at all if they had to travel, or they had to move,” Gibbons said. “They just wouldn’t be able to go through a full baccalaureate program. They couldn’t do it without all the things that are right here in this county that help them be successful.”

To learn more, view the presentation at the 37:20 point of the video.


Read Full Post »

Several news outlets published stories about the work of Michael L. McCauley, a graduate of SPC’s Orthotics and Prosthetics bachelor’s degree program, and O&P program director Arlene Gillis, who recently traveled to the Florida Keys with a group from the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge to conduct research on prosthetic swim legs.

The underwater study is one of four Gillis’ team is conducting with the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge, whose missions are now part of the school’s curriculum, the Tampa Tribune reported. Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge has partnered with SPC to find ways of building better prosthetics. In addition, participants on this study took part in an operation with a group of young divers from the Tampa Bay area to help restore the Gulf of Mexico’s population of staghorn coral, which was nearly wiped out a few years ago, according to the article.

The News-Press, Stars and Stripes, the Key West Citizen and the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota also carried the story.

Read Full Post »

Perhaps you take swimming in the water that helps define the state of Florida for granted. For amputees without legs, however, just getting from a beach chair to the water’s edge can be forbidding.

“When they go to the beach they have to take their leg off and hop to the water,” said Michael L. McCauley, a graduate of St. Petersburg College’s Orthotics and Prosthetics bachelor’s degree program. “We want them to be able to swim without a care in the world like the rest of us. That’s my goal.”

Chris Corbin and Evan Olson participate in last year’s Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge trip to the Florida Keys.

Next week, McCauley and O&P program director Arlene Gillis will travel to the Florida Keys with a group from the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge to conduct research on prosthetic swim legs. McCauley will observe amputees swimming with and without their prosthetic legs to measure their air intake, heart rate and buoyancy and how long it takes to swim certain distances. The results will help improve prosthetics built for water and thereby the quality of life for amputees who want to pursue active lifestyles.

Founded in 2010, the CWCV works to improve the lives of wounded and injured veterans through rehabilitative challenges and to further the science related to their injuries and treatment. Some of their recent trips have taken them to glaciers in Alaska, the depths of the Grand Canyon and the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak.

SPC O&P students and graduates have joined these trips to conduct research, such as anatomical reactions to changes in environment; the effects of stress, extreme weather and altitude on prosthetics, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury and the effects of temperature change on overall pain levels, spastic moments in the lower extremity and hand function. McCauley’s love of the ocean has prompted him to focus on activities beyond land.

“There’s very limited research on underwater prosthetics,” said McCauley, who graduated from SPC in 2011 and manages an orthotics and prosthetics practice in Nashville. “Right now, they make swim legs just so they don’t rust. There’s so much more we can do, but we need the research.”

Technology advancements in just the past decade have helped transform modern prosthetics. Today, amputees can reasonably rely on their new limbs to help them conduct daily activities. Beyond that, however, sports like diving require specialized limbs that can be costly.

“Buoyancy is a pretty big deal,” McCauley said. “When we dive, we have to get neutrally buoyant. For amputees, we have to weigh the legs down so they can stay down.”

For his part, McCauley will focus partly on able-bodied swimmers to monitor their swimming styles, propulsion of kicks and angles of feet and knees. The information will help fine tune the mechanics used in the limbs.

The rest of the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge group will assist SCUBAnauts International, a group of high school marine science students, in cleaning, monitoring and restoring underwater coral reefs in conjunction with MOTE Marine Research Laboratory. The veterans will also mentor the youths in military-centric dive training and underwater navigation under the supervision and instruction of elite United States Army Special Forces Combat Divers.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »