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UTTC accredited to grant degrees online
3 December 2003

BISMARCK, ND - United Tribes Technical College has achieved a higher education milestone. The college has received accreditation to grant degrees to students who take all their classes online. It's the first time a tribal college has been approved to deliver degree-granting programs entirely through the use of online, distance technology.

      "We're breaking new ground with this," said UTTC President David M. Gipp. "We and other tribal colleges have offered individual courses online for some time. This step is accreditation for the full degree program online. We're pretty excited about it."

      Two of UTTC's 14 associate degree programs, Early Childhood Education and Injury Prevention, received accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools based in Chicago, Illinois.

      In a letter to UTTC, Steven D. Crow, Executive Director of the Association's Higher Learning Commission said, "the Institutional Actions Council voted to extend your accreditation to include distance delivery of the Early Childhood Education and Injury Prevention programs." The action was validated November 21 by the commission's board of trustees, wrote Crow.

      "Accreditation is a voluntary process and a very important one," said Leah Woodke, Director of UTTC Online and Distance Education. "To receive accreditation is to be on a par with other colleges. It validates the courses and program offerings, ensures that students can transfer their coursework and that their degrees will be recognized."

      According to Gipp, delivering classes online has expanded the access to higher education for tribal students all across the country. "Not all native students can go to a tribal college or come to Bismarck for classes on campus. By working online the potential is there for earning an accredited UTTC degree from even the most remote location in the country."

      Online courses at UTTC have evolved specifically to meet the needs of tribal students, said Phil Baird, UTTC Dean of Vocational and Academic Programs. The college shunned the use of pre-packaged online programs and coursework and designed its own technology platform for both academic instruction and student support services.

      "It's very significant to us, and the tribal college movement, that our systems and courses meet both the needs of our students and the standards expected of higher education institutions in this country," Baird said. The college is willing to share its model for online and distance education with other tribal colleges, he said.

      According to Woodke, UTTC plans to seek accreditation for granting Associate of Applied Science degrees online in Health Information Technology, Elementary Education, Nutrition and Food Service, and Criminal Justice, all of which now offer courses online. North Central currently accredits the college through 2010.

      Information about UTTC Online and campus based programs and courses can be found at the website www.uttc.edu. Registration is now open for Spring Semester classes, which begin January 8.


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