A new program at Oakton Community College now provides nontraditional students the opportunity to complete their bachelor’s degree in business administration while staying closer to home.

Through a partnership with Northern Illinois University, students at Oakton – as well as those at College of Lake County, Elgin Community College, Harper College, and McHenry County College – who complete an associate’s degree in business may now transfer seamlessly to NIU-Hoffman Estates and complete their bachelor’s degree. The agreement between NIU and the consortium colleges was signed Friday, June 12, at NIU’s satellite campus in Hoffman Estates.

The program is designed for students who may have work and family obligations that prevent them from enrolling full-time at NIU’s campuses in DeKalb or Rockford, but is convenient for them to attend evening and weekend classes. To qualify, a student must earn an A.A. /A.S. degree or have completed 60 hours of transferable credit; complete lower level business core courses (10 prerequisite courses) with a grade of C or better; earn a minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA in all transferable college course work; and complete NIU application and admission forms.

“Whenever we can forge a partnership that removes barriers for our students and facilitates their pathway to completion, we can and should celebrate,” said Oakton President Margaret B. Lee, Ph.D.  “I am grateful to my colleagues at Oakton and our partner institutions who worked on all of the details that brought us to this agreement.”

“The partnership provides a new pathway that is extremely important for Oakton students who are looking to continue their education in the area of business beyond Oakton, but need the convenience of a location closer to home,” said Dean of Social Sciences and Business Brad Wooten. “Several Oakton instructors in the business area have been advocating for such an opportunity, and having this partnership with NIU provides our academic advisers and faculty with an additional option to promote to our students to help them complete their academic goals.”

NIU officials say classes for the program at the NIU-Hoffman Estates campus will require a minimum of 20 students and would most likely begin in January 2016.   

“An educated workforce is critical to growing our region’s competitiveness,” said NIU President Douglas Baker. “Expanding baccalaureate completion opportunities, improving transitions, and providing students with incentives for degree-completion through compacts such as this helps move our state toward this goal.”

Under the newly signed agreement, Oakton, NIU, and the colleges in the consortium will measure the effectiveness of the program by sharing information, particularly focusing on low-income and first-generation students.

Oakton Community College District 535 serves residents in the communities of Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Golf, Kenilworth, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northbrook, Northfield, Park Ridge, Skokie, Wilmette, Winnetka, and parts of Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, and Rosemont. With campuses in Des Plaines and Skokie, in sites throughout the district, and via a robust online presence, Oakton offers associate degrees in 80 fields of study as well as learning opportunities for career advancement and personal enrichment.