Elaine Warren
Edwards Campus

Colleges, districts collaborate to offer degree in three years

Wed, 07/23/2014

OVERLAND PARK – A new collaboration among the University of Kansas Edwards Campus, Johnson County Community College (JCCC) and the Blue Valley and Olathe school districts will enable secondary students to obtain a bachelor’s degree in information technology three years after high school graduation, officials announced.

The Degree in 3 program represents an innovative way for students interested in an IT career to accelerate education, obtain access to internships, become acclimated to the business world and save money on higher education.

The Edwards Campus and JCCC also are exploring ways to expand Degree in 3 to additional fields of study and to more school districts, according to David Cook, Edwards Campus vice chancellor.

“Industry is asking for this,” Cook said. “The IT workforce needs are out there, and there is business interest in meeting the need. As we have launched our new Bachelor of Science in information technology, we are constantly talking with our partners. Kansas legislators also have suggested we explore options such as this.”

The program enhances existing academic collaboration between JCCC and the Edwards Campus, said Joe Sopcich, JCCC president.

“The college had programs in place that allow high school students to earn college credit, and we had other agreements in place with KU Edwards Campus,” Sopcich said. “This became a natural partnership that helps each entity serve students and the community.”

Degree in 3 works like this:

  • Students in the Blue Valley and Olathe school districts develop an academic plan that includes courses eligible for college credits but completed while in high school. Such a plan may include Advanced Placement courses or courses through JCCC programs known as College Now and Quick Step.
  • Upon high school graduation, students complete remaining freshman-sophomore credits at JCCC with the goal of earning an Associate of Science in information technology systems in one year.
  • Students then transfer to the Edwards Campus and complete courses toward the Bachelor of Science in information technology in two years.

Of significant value is the real-world experience feature of Degree in 3. Examples include the Center for Advanced Professional Studies experience in the Blue Valley School District and the 21st Century Programs in the Olathe School District. Mentorships and internships at area bioscience, business, engineering and human services organizations supplement classroom learning. Accelerating the program also helps students manage college and living expenses.

Cook said there is a “tremendous explosion” of demand for IT workers, so IT is the logical area of study to launch Degree in 3. He said the Edwards Campus also is preparing to launch bachelor’s degrees in business administration and exercise science to the Degree in 3 model.

“Degree in 3 supports the economic viability of the community, too,” Cook said. “Students are introduced to the culture of real-world Kansas City business, and Kansas City-area employers get an earlier look at local talent. So maybe jobs are waiting for our graduates, and businesses spend less time getting new employees up to speed.”

The Bachelor of Science in information technology is one of many academic degrees that KU Edwards Campus has initiated through the Johnson County Education Research Triangle, a partnership among the taxpayers of Johnson County, Kansas State University and KU. The long-range vision of the Triangle is to create $1.4 billion in economic effects in this generation.

“Degree in 3 directly supports the Triangle’s purpose of attracting and retaining a talented workforce that will foster expansion in the business community,” Cook said.

The Edwards Campus at 127th Street and Quivira Road in Overland Park brings high-quality academic programs, research and public service benefits of KU to the greater Kansas City community in order to serve the workforce, economic and community development needs of the region.

Happy Kansas Day, Kansans! We caught sunflowers standing tall at the Grinter Family Farms just outside Lawrence last fall. You may wonder how the sunflower came to be the State flower in 1903 and we found an excerpt from Kansas legislation: Whereas, Kansas has a native wild flower common throughout her borders, hardy and conspicuous, of definite, unvarying and striking shape, easily sketched, moulded, and carved, having armorial capacities, ideally adapted for artistic reproduction, with its strong, distinct disk and its golden circle of clear glowing rays -- a flower that a child can draw on a slate, a woman can work in silk, or a man can carve on stone or fashion in clay; and Whereas, This flower has to all Kansans a historic symbolism which speaks of frontier days, winding trails, pathless prairies, and is full of the life and glory of the past, the pride of the present, and richly emblematic of the majesty of a golden future, and is a flower which has given Kansas the world-wide name, "the sunflower state"... Be it enacted ... that the helianthus or wild native sunflower is ... designated ... the state flower and floral emblem of the state of Kansas.

Have family visiting Lawrence? #exploreKU and take them to the @KUnhm like @ChrisCanDesign did.
Explore KU: The Bells of Mount Oread KU’s Campanile, a 120-foot-tall timepiece that tolls automatically on the hour and quarter-hour, not only sounded in the 2015 New Year at midnight with 12 mighty gongs, but also regularly rings up memories for many Jayhawks – the 277 faculty and students who gave their lives during World War II, the graduates who walk through its doors at commencement, and aspiring students who have strolled through the Lawrence campus. (See For nearly 60 years, KU’s 53-bell carillon has been tolling the sounds of peace and serenity across Mount Oread since it was installed in June 1955 inside the landmark World War II Memorial Campanile, which was dedicated in 1951. (See The carillon is also a four-octave musical instrument, which is played with a giant keyboard and foot pedals. University Carillonneur Elizabeth Egber-Berghout (, associate professor of carillon and organ, climbs 77 steps up a spiral staircase in the bell tower to perform recitals several times a month.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times