Howard Community College will be the first school in Maryland to offer college credit for training received in the U.S. Navy after an agreement between the two is signed tomorrow.
The Navy plans to use HCC's proposal as the model for similar programs with other state community colleges, said Anne Ellis, a mid-Atlantic Navy education specialist.
The program, she said, is open to those sailors entering the "most-elite" yearlong Navy programs - nuclear power programs in South Carolina and advanced electronic schools in Chicago.
Navy officials hope the deal - to allow Navy students to earn an associate degree with one year's worth of core classes in college - will encourage more sailors to seek a higher level education, Ellis said.
"Any way we can make [getting an education] easier is worth exploring," Ellis said.
Administrators and professors at HCC also have high expectations for the program, which they hope will draw more tuition-paying students to the school, said Ron Roberson, vice president of academic affairs. He said there are no current students at HCC who are planning careers in the Navy.
"This is a whole new market for us," Roberson said.
These students will be given, depending on their field, 23 to 29 credits for the year of standard Navy training. The credits can be applied to an associate in applied science degree in electronics technology, telecommunications technology or biomedical engineering technology, each of which typically requires 60 credits.
Since the Navy came up with the idea of combining Navy training with post-secondary education in May 1999, it has forged statewide deals with community colleges in West Virginia and Oklahoma and will sign a similar deal in Delaware today, Ellis said.
HCC was the first in Maryland to draft a proposal after Ellis approached Maryland schools with the possibility, she said.
"Howard Community College has really been the front-runner" in the state, said Ellis.
A typical participant in the program would make a commitment to the Navy as part of the "delayed entry program," which allows a student to first attend HCC to collect credit for core classes and then continue the degree in the Navy.
The Navy also encourages those who have completed or are involved with Navy programs to go back and complete their degrees, Ellis said. Sailors would have the option of completing their education while on active duty, said Ellis, in which case the Navy would pay for 75 percent of the tuition.
"The Navy really does believe in and support continuing education," Ellis said. Because "if you feel like an organization is taking care of you, it fosters loyalty."
Participants require only general education classes from the college, so it is feasible that they could finish their degree through HCC's online program from anywhere in the world, Roberson said. "[Students] could be in the South China Seas right now," he said.
After one year, 14 sailors have taken advantage of the program. But Ellis expects numbers of participants to increase drastically in the fall because the program has been expanded.