Five years equals two degrees plus outstanding opportunities

Posted: February 9, 2012

Five years equals two degrees plus outstanding opportunities.

Things are adding up in a big way for Briercrest College and Seminary students who desire a degree in education that also contains the distinctives of their Christian faith.

A partnership agreement between Briercrest College and Minot State University now makes that desire a possibility. 

 Students will receive a BA from Briercrest and a BSE from Minot State in five years.  The first three years are spent at Briercrest and the remaining two at Minot State.

Wes Olmstead, VP Academic of Briercrest is excited about the partnership.

 “It will allow both Canadian and American students to take advantage of the rich faculty resources and distinctive strengths of both institutions. From the first semester of their studies with us, students will be making important progress toward a BA from Briercrest and a BSE from Minot State, while experiencing the breadth and depth of our mission.”

Many Briercrest alumni have entered education programs across the country.  As a result, the desire to find a way to offer an education degree has been alive for years.

The opportunity to partner with Minot State began with one conversation at a college fair.

In 2009, Briercrest recruiter Ken Pike returned from the fair wondering about a partnership with Minot State University after an important discussion with an MSU recruiter.  Pike gave Olmstead the business card for MSU’s VP Academic and asked if a partnership with the university would ever be an option.  

 “I wrote the VP Academic a note and asked if he’d be interested in getting together to talk about it and he responded right away,” Olmstead recalled. 

Olmstead travelled to Minot State that weekend and met with Neil Nordquist, Dean of Education and Health Sciences at Minot State.  After much planning and many more such meetings, the Briercrest-Minot State Concurrent Degrees Program was created about fourteen months later.

Nordquist is also enthusiastic about the partnership.

“Our agreement with Briercrest College will attract a lot of good students, students who are interested in becoming teachers.  It’s a nice fit for both schools and will be a great relationship for years to come.”Many students are already excited to apply for this program.  Chelsea Peters, a senior at Caronport High School is enthusiastic about the partnership.  Peters wants to be an elementary school teacher, but also desires to study the Bible at Briercrest.

“With this program I’d be able to do that and still get the education I want,” she said. “I’d get two degrees in a five year period which is really good.  I’d only have to spend a year and a half away from home and the other half year doing my practicum in school which is great because I love hands-on (learning).”

Brian Gobbett, associate academic dean of Briercrest, says the program has many benefits.

“Agreements within higher education that stretch between institutions and across political boundaries have become increasingly common in recent years and with good cause,” he said. “In particular, students are the beneficiaries of such agreements as they are afforded a wider breadth of opportunity, both experientially and educationally.”

The job market for teaching positions in many areas is very competitive.   In addition to the vocational options open to graduates of typical education programs, a Briercrest-Minot State BA/BSE graduate will have the advantage in job areas within the Christian school system and the church.

This greatly increases job possibilities.

Christian elementary and secondary schools have dramatically grown over the past two decades.  For example, the Association of Christian Schools International has 80 schools in four western provinces, with a student population approaching 20,000. 

More churches are asking for their children and youth employees to have an education degree.

As this new partnership begins to take off, Wes Olmstead knows it will have a positive impact on Briercrest.

“(Besides) a well-established partnership at Minot State, (I hope) that another thing that happens is that Christian students in Canada and the US think about Briercrest when they think about a degree in education.”