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Students get convenience of virtual studies with new program at Portland State, Mt. Hood.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Mt. Hood Community College students have a clear path to an online business degree. Mt. Hood Community College has teamed up with Portland State University to offer a four-year business degree that can be earned completely online.

Called "Start-To-Finish," the program has students start with an associate's degree at Mt. Hood and finish with a bachelor's degree in business administration from Portland State.

"It's now a seamless process," said Mt. Hood business instructor Andy Wong, noting that the degree program had a "soft launch" this fall.

Students can now graduate with concentrations in either management and leadership or supply and logistics management. Wong noted there will be more offerings added.

"Start-To-Finish" lays out a clear pathway for students to attain a degree so they can avoid taking extraneous classes and know what classes to take and in what order.

PSU and MHCC are supporting students to stay in school and finish the degree, by coordinating academic advising and other student services to help students seamlessly transition from community college to university.

"This has all the advantages of taking classes online," Wong said. Online learning is more convenient for some students who can skip the commute and parking hassles and more easily work class obligations around family and work commitments.

But the online class requirements are similar to the on-campus requirements. "You still have to participate," and turn in assigned work, Wong cautioned.

The cost for the degree is about the same as taking the same classes in person.

"This program developed out of a need we observed for our online degree program: Students were interested, but didn't meet all the requirements to begin, so we were telling them to come back later," said Erica Wagner, associate dean of undergraduate programs at PSU's School of Business Administration, in a statement.

"We saw the opportunity to collaborate with MHCC as a provider of lower-division online courses," she added. "MHCC has been a wonderful partner in this initiative. Now we meet students where they are at, when they are ready to engage, and we are committed to helping them through graduation."

Wagner noted that 'Start-To-Finish' is the first of "many more" collaboration projects between the two schools.

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