JCERT-Supported Programs at K-State Olathe, KU Edwards Campus Thrive During Challenging Time in Higher Education
Over the past three years, JCERT-funded programs at KU Edwards Campus and K-State Olathe have grown by 105%, running counter to enrollment declines occurring in higher education.
Demand for JCERT-funded programs is on the rise at K-State Olathe and the KU Edwards Campus despite challenges in higher education because both universities continue to provide educational offerings to meet career opportunities.
Growth of JCERT-Funded Programs
K-State Olathe and KU Edwards Campus offer a wide range of JCERT-funded human health, animal health and food science programs to address that large industry presence in the Kansas City area.
Over the past three years, student credit hour growth in these academic programs has increased 105% between the two campuses.
At K-State Olathe, student credit hours decreased by 10% in non-JCERT-funded programs between FY2020 and FY2022 (which ends in June). Credit hour growth for the eight JCERT-funded degrees and programs, however, increased by 75% – currently at 700 credit hours – over this same period.
Some of the biggest jumps came in the following programs:
- M.S. in Horticulture with an emphasis in Urban Food Production – up 68.5%
- Professional Science Master in Applied Biosciences – up nearly 58%
- Animal Health Regulatory Affairs Graduate Certificate – up 200%
More than 30 degrees and certificates at the KU Edwards Campus are supported by JCERT, accounting for 42.8% of the campus’s total credit hours generated in the spring 2022 semester. These offerings have experienced 30% growth over the past three years. Spring 2022 enrollment highlights include:
- growth of 17% in JCERT-supported graduate programs;
- a 94.4% increase in the Civil Engineering master’s degree certificates;
- Project Management master’s degrees certificates up 64.3%; and
- an increase of 264.4% in the new Bachelor of Health Sciences degree.
Changes to Higher Education and Livelihoods
The growth in JCERT-funded programs at KU Edwards Campus and K-State Olathe runs counter to the changes happening in higher education. Student enrollment is down at other Kansas universities and across the United States. This is due in part to declining birthrates. Decreased enrollment also is fueled by a nationwide abundance of jobs and growing public skepticism about the need for a college degree, which is compounded by increasing tuition costs and potential career earnings that may not differ significantly from jobs that don’t require a college education.
For students in Olathe, Overland Park and other Greater Kansas City cities, however, that return on investment for a JCERT-backed, post-secondary degree from KU Edwards Campus or K-State Olathe is worthwhile.
“The JCERT program has opened doors to positions within management, specialty departments and pilot opportunities that I otherwise would not have had the knowledge or experience to access,” said Shelly Nemecheck, a lead laboratory scientist at Merck and recent graduate of K-State Olathe’s Professional Science Master in Applied Bioscience program. “It has allowed me to be considered for positions well beyond what I would have been capable of applying for before earning my masters in the PSM program.”
A KU Edwards Campus also shared that sentiment.
“The environmental studies degree is unique and versatile and has provided me with new opportunities in both my academics and future career options,” said Cloey Adrian, a spring 2022 graduate from the KU Edwards Campus. “The staff and professors are kind and caring and have been essential to my success in getting my degree and finding a career path that is perfect for who I am and what I want out of life.”
Ensuring JCERT higher education dollars continue to serve local employer needs while offering students a worthwhile return on their investment remains a priority for both campuses. To that end, leadership continues to refine and develop curriculums for these academic programs.