The Bachelor of Liberal Arts (BLA) degree is designed to accommodate the special needs, experience and circumstances of adult learners. The BLA degree is based on the assumption that learning is a process that occurs throughout life and involves more than formal classroom instruction. The liberal arts degree enables students to link together past college course work, learning from life-experience and the academic experience that is shared by all graduates of the college - the liberal arts core.
Students complete the 51-credit liberal arts core either by enrolling in courses in the evening or online at Wheeling Jesuit University. Courses from other regionally accredited schools may also transfer towards the degree program.
Additionally, the student submits a proposal outlining the academic goal they want to achieve through the BLA program. For example, a student may be active in religious education, but without having much formal education in that area. Through the BLA program, the student may create a "core" of religious studies courses to be completed. A final project related to the student's academic goal is completed. Other means for earning credit through the BLA program may include internships, special projects. In addition, the student may complete a portfolio of professional and technical competencies, and life learning essays. The portfolio is submitted to faculty for assessment and possible awarding of college credit.
More on the Portfolio
Adult students have prior experiential learning, learning that has resulted from personal and professional experiences since high school that can be evaluated for college credit.
A portfolio is a written record of experiences organized into a binder. It is a thorough documentation of learning experiences. Students may petition for a maximum of 30 credits through the portfolio process.
Students interested in earning elective credit may earn three credits in the Prior Learning Assessment course where they learn how to design a portfolio. After completing the course, they may submit the portfolio for evaluation of additional credit. The portfolio consists of five separate sections which include:
- Transcripts and Military Documents
- Professional/ Technical Schools/ Courses
- Post-high school autobiography
- Life-learning essays
The life-learning essay is a demonstration of knowledge and skill that may relate to life or work experience. The essays are evaluated by faculty members who are looking for college equivalent knowledge that includes generalizations and concepts as well as specific applications of that knowledge. Essays can cover a variety of special topics. For example, a student could write about a personal involvement in a community organization or agency.
In two sections of the portfolio, students may earn additional elective credit:
Professional/ Technical Schools/ Courses-
- National standards used in awarding credit.
- No charge for addition of credit to transcript.
- Faculty members evaluate each essay for individual merit and award credit.
- Students will be billed tuition per credit earned through this section.