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MBA, criminal justice programs to be offered in Porterville

Porterville CollegePorterville students enrolled at National University — a campus within the Porterville College campus — will soon have the option to obtain a master’s of business administration degree without leaving Porterville.
“We’re on an island out here. Porterville is not huge on its own but if you add all the communities, that’s about 100 thousand people,” said Jonathan Schultz, Center Director for National University.
The opportunity is unique too — National University is the only school offering a master’s degree at a community college campus.
“We are doing a little ground-breaking here,” said Bernell Hirning, associate regional dean for National University’s Fresno, Bakersfield and Porterville campuses. “I am not aware of any [other] community college that offers a master’s program.”
Hirning said many Porterville students tend to stay close to home.
“This brings the program to them. They can obtain their general courses at Porterville College and then transition into our bachelor program and into the master’s program without ever taking a break in their academic program,” Hirning said. “It’s a win for Tulare County, as well as the Porterville community, for the people to stay at home and continue to work while they pursue their education. They are highly likely to stay there, assuming there are jobs.”
But, with growth in Bakersfield and the Porterville area, students may not be faced with relocation costs.
And, by being nonprofit, the costs for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges-accredited university at PC are lower than the alternatives, which often require either online courses or traveling out of town to Bakersfield or Fresno.
The local campus, which received its first wave of students in January and February of 2012, now has 82 students in six cohorts. The school offers a bachelor degree in business administration and a bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies with a preliminary multiple-subjects teaching credential.
“The contracts have been signed,” said Schultz about the master’s program. “We have two groups of students transitioning into a couple of the master degree courses.”
Schultz anticipates that by May its current students can begin the program. By August, any student holding a bachelor’s degree can also take advantage of the program.
The cost is approximately $1,250 per course — or an average of approximately $280 a quarter unit — with a current 25 percent discount the school is offering. The program offers one course a month, and runs 16 to 19 courses. Students enrolled in the bachelor programs have an advantage of seamless transition into the master’s program and are offered a couple of courses that count for the bachelor and the master’s programs.
“There’s scholarships and grants and student loans available,” Schultz said. “I’m here to go over transcripts and course evaluation. We have a financial aid person who comes once a week. During August and September, she’ll come twice a week.”
The opportunity is unique, he said, and one that is not usually offered at community college campuses.
There are also plans for future courses and programs, Schultz said, including a plan to begin a criminal justice program in the near future.
“This is growing literally fast,” Hirning said. “Initially we had an interest in two or three different programs and our thought was to have one group of students for each program.”

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