People who have wanted to get four-year college degrees without leaving Harford County will soon have an opportunity beyond online courses.
Starting this fall, Towson University is planning to offer upper-level undergraduate college credit classes through a partnership with Harford Community College. It's the first time in the 57-year history of HCC that four-year programs have been part of the school's offerings.
People who want to take the newly-offered classes this fall need to act quickly and apply by Friday, according to Towson University officials.
"As of right now, we're accepting applications until July 18 (Friday)," Christine Collins, senior communications manager for Towson University, said Monday.
Anyone interested can apply online at http://www.towson.edu/main/admissions/northeast/.
The courses are open to students with associate's degrees, and they will be taught in the $22 million facility known as Towson University in Northeastern Maryland.
The 55,000-square-foot, three-story classroom building is in the final stages of construction, and Harford Community College and Towson officials expect it to be ready in time for the Aug. 27 start of Towson's fall 2014 term.
The building, which is owned by Towson University, is the first to be built on what HCC officials call the community college's west campus, located across Thomas Run Road from the 50-year-old main campus. The building will have "state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, offices, and space for a variety of social and cultural events," according to the Towson University admissions web page.
"It'll be a great benefit for our students because they are already familiar with the campus, and all they will have to do is to get their associate's degree at Harford and they'll transfer seamlessly into their junior year, or third year, of college at Towson University as a Towson student," HCC spokeswoman Nancy Dysard said Tuesday.
Those students most likely won't have to leave HCC's campus to get their four-year degrees, Dysard said, noting they will save gas and commuting time and "parking will be ample" at the facility.
She said a grand opening ceremony for the building is scheduled for Oct. 10.
HCC President Dennis Golladay said Tuesday he thinks "it is very fitting" for Towson "to celebrate the continuation of a great partnership between our two institutions."
"I just think it's a tremendous opportunity for the students and residents of the area," Golladay said. "They have never before had access in their own backyards to an opportunity to complete a bachelor's degree education, and now they do."
Junior and senior-level courses will be available in six majors, including business administration with a concentration in management, information technology, integrated early childhood education and special education, integrated elementary education and special education and sociology with a criminal justice concentration, Collins said.
The "2+2" program is designed to give students who live in Harford and Cecil counties the opportunity to take Towson University classes in their home communities and obtain a bachelor's degree without having to travel to the main TU campus in Towson.
"You get your associate's degree in a course of study related to one of those six majors, then you transfer to our program without having to come to the main campus," Towson's Collins explained.
She said university officials plan to add two more course offerings for the fall 2015 term, and they are "formulating those class offerings with an eye toward work force development in that [northeastern Maryland] region."
"The option that this affords to residents in that region is, they can come out of high school with a plan to attend the community college first and then transfer into our program," Collins added.
Some of Towson University's graduate programs also will remain available to Cecil and Harford residents through the University Center of Northeastern Maryland, the facility formerly known as the HEAT Center, on Technology Drive in Aberdeen.
Collins said Towson officials are "standing firm" on the Friday deadline to register for classes at the new Bel Air building, but anyone who checks between mid-August and early September can apply for the spring 2015 term, which begins in January 2015, or the fall 2015 term.
She said 91 full-time students have signed up for fall classes so far, along with 127 part-time students. The building has the capacity for up to 1,450 students and faculty.
Collins said 29 faculty members will be teaching during the fall term, many of whom have already been teaching in Harford County.
"What it will be for our students is just a very natural, seamless transition from one institution to the other without any geographic interference," HCC's Golladay said.