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Excelsior College is a large private college based out of New York. Established in 1971 as The Regents External Degree Program (REX), the New York State Board of Regents created the school as a distance learning campus. It allowed students to earn their degrees without actually attending traditional classes or studying on the Albany campus. The Ford Foundation and other major nonprofit organizations donated the funds the school needed during its early years. It operated as Regents College for 15 years before becoming Excelsior College.
The college is unique in that it accepts transfer credits from any college or university with regional accreditation and because it accepts older credits that other schools usually will not accept. Some of its degree programs will accept credits that are up to 10 years old or older. All the programs that are available through the college allow students to study and work on their degrees from anywhere around the world. This makes Excelsior an extremely popular college among military students because they can keep working as they receive new orders. Enrollment at Excelsior College now tops more than 36,000 students. More than 35,000 of those students are undergrads working on their degrees as they live outside of Albany and New York.
Bachelor of Arts in Humanities
One of the degree programs that Excelsior College offers is a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities. This is available as a general program, but students can also customize their degrees with a concentration in communication studies, cultural studies, fine arts or literature. Each program requires that students take 120 credits of classes. They take 60 credits of arts and sciences classes and 60 credits of professional courses. Those enrolled in one of the concentration programs must take at least 33 credits from with the concentrations they chose.
Some of the required classes that all humanities majors take include Introduction to Philosophy, Research and Writing in the Humanities and Ethics. The communication studies concentration focuses on the ways in which people share information and communicate with each other, including the verbal techniques that they use and the ways people chat online. Its fine arts and cultural studies programs are fairly similar. Students can take classes to learn more about other cultures, but they can also take classes on drama, dance and other forms of art. The college offers a literature concentration for those who want to study different eras or genres of literature.
All humanities majors must take a capstone class in the final semester of the program. This class is worth three credits and covers a specific topic relating to either humanities or the concentrations that students studied. Excelsior College asks students to create and submit a final paper or project at the end of this class.
Excelsior College Accreditation Details
As Excelsior College has regional accreditation, students can use the FAFSA when applying for financial aid and use any of the aid they get to pay for their classes and other costs. The college's regional accreditation comes from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), which also allows students to transfer college credits from one college or university to another. Its nursing programs have professional accreditation and approval from the New York State Board of Nursing. Other degree programs available from the university that have accreditation include those in business, engineering, and technology.
Excelsior College Application Requirements
Excelsior College requires that all prospective students create a new account with its application system. Students can choose their own usernames and passwords, which will let them log back into the system whenever they want. The application consists of several pages. While some students can complete the application in one sitting, others will want to log in and out. The university recommends that students gather all the information that they need before working on the application.
The application asks for contact information, including a home address and phone number. It also asks for personal information such as the student's date of birth and social security number. Other sections in the application go over whether the student attended college before applying and the grades the student received in past classes. When the student submits the Excelsior application, he or she will also need to pay a $50 fee. The college can help students qualify for a fee waiver too.
Excelsior does not ask for a test score from the ACT or the SAT, but it does ask for an official transcript. Students can request that their high schools mail their transcripts to the college. Any student who wants to transfer credits to the college must submit transcripts from those schools too.
Tuition and Financial Aid
Excelsior College charges a flat tuition rate that lets students take as many classes as they want each semester and pay based on the number of credits that they take. They pay $510 per credit hour, which includes all the miscellaneous fees that the college charges. Military students on active duty status qualify for a tuition discount, and the college offers a similar discount for the families of military personnel. Students who work for partner organizations also qualify for a tuition discount. Those paying for their own costs can request a payment plan. The college lets students make smaller payments over the course of the semester instead of paying all costs upfront.
All students who need help can use the FAFSA and list the Excelsior College school code on that form. The only way students can qualify for grants from the state and federal government or for federal loans is with this form. The college can assist students and help them find alternative loan sources too. Private loans help students bridge the gap between the amount of aid they need and the amount that they get.
Students should also consider the scholarships available from the college. It offers scholarships for students who need more help and will use their FAFSA forms to determine if they qualify for one of these scholarships. Some scholarships are only available to students majoring in specific fields, including criminal justice and technology. Students must submit a separate scholarship application to apply for any of those funds. Four different scholarship programs help students afford the cost of finishing one of the college's nursing programs. Excelsior College even has scholarships available for students working on an associate's degree.