14:56 PM

UHD, HCC Partner to Create Clear Degree Pathways

Houston Community College (HCC) and the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) have long enjoyed a strong, collaborative relationship. For decades, countless students have earned associate's degrees at HCC and continued their academic journeys at UHD.

This week, administrators, students and community members will assemble for the signing of an articulation agreement aimed at creating seamless pathways for students transferring from HCC to UHD.

The signing event will be conducted at 2 p.m., Dec. 14 in the Tour Room of UHD's Welcome Center (third floor in the Girard Street Building). UHD Interim President Michael A. Olivas and HCC Chancellor Cesar Maldonado will put their signatures to paper to formalize this pact. They also will sign letters of intent focused on partnerships between each institution's nursing and urban education programs and a letter of implementation addressing a collaboration between HCC and UHD's College of Business.

Olivas and Maldonado also will deliver remarks at this event. Additional speakers are as follows: HCC Board of Trustees Chair Adriana Tamez; UHD Student Government Association president Mustapha Nyally (who previously attended HCC); and Welcome Wilson Jr., vice chairman of the University of Houston System Board of Regents.

Three key elements in this agreement will be essential in facilitating a smooth transition for students:

  • Admission models - Students can continue their education from HCC to UHD through different models:
    • Joint admission: HCC students can commit to continuing their bachelor's education at UHD when joining HCC.
    • model: Students can complete their associate's and undergraduate degrees at one location.
    • Transfer admission: Students can transfer with associate's degrees from HCC to UHD or through reverse transfer to earn associate's degrees. While earning associate's degrees, students will receive guidance and advising to steer them in the right direction.
  • Degree maps - Students will receive clear outlines of HCC courses that can be applied toward UHD bachelor's degree programs. Likewise, they will have detailed maps with information on the UHD courses required for their areas of study.
  • Embedded advisers - UHD advisers will have an enhanced presence at HCC campuses, working in tandem with the HCC's staff. They will help students navigate their way through associate's hours, financial aid requirements, and the process of transferring from HCC to a UHD. A UHD adviser is already in place at HCC assisting associate's business administration students as they work to transition into the bachelor's program at UHD's College of Business. In the future, this partnership will also help HCC's Business Center of Excellence students by providing a 2+2+1 cost-effective pathway. UHD will be providing scholarships to HCC students en route to completing business degrees in a five-year span.

"At Houston Community College, we are always striving to create the ultimate student experience. Part of that experience is creating partnerships and pathways to four-year institutions," Maldonado said. "This pipeline will allow our students to start their college career with HCC and seamlessly transfer to UHD."

"This will be a momentous event for both institutions," Olivas said. "The METRO light rail connects HCC's central campus, Coleman College and Northline Campus with UHD. Now, we're closer than ever along the spine of the Houston academic corridor. This agreement benefits our University and HCC. Most importantly, it will provide students with a distinct advantage, with resources dedicated to their transitions from HCC to UHD."

HCC students already are utilizing existing degree maps that will lead them to UHD's College of Business and Urban Education Program. This map offers a recommended number of semester credit hours and course numbers for a student's first two years at HCC and his/her final two years at UHD. During this event, Olivas and Maldonado will recognize the existing partnerships with these programs and sign a letter of intent related to the College of Public Service's Urban Education Program and a letter of implementation focused on HCC's partnership with the College of Business.

Similarly, a collaboration is in development that will provide a pathway for HCC's nursing students to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at UHD. After completing an Associate of Applied Sciences in Nursing at HCC, students will have opportunities to continue bachelor's studies through UHD's upcoming nursing program. This partnership is addressed in a letter of intent to be signed by Olivas and Maldonado.

Providing a clear degree map with on-site advising and resources can help students avoid taking unexpected detours from their academic paths. According to higher education advocacy group, Complete College America, students on average take at least 21 credits more than they need. In addition to the time spent taking these excess hours, students accumulate more college debt.

"This is exactly what we want to help students avoid," Olivas said. "Even the most talented minds might be challenged by navigating higher education's sometimes murky waters. It is the duty of institutions like HCC and UHD to help guide them on the right pathway."

HCC is among UHD's largest feeder schools. On average, more than 700 students transfer from HCC to UHD annually. The agreements signed by UHD and HCC reflect both institutions’ commitment to the Houston Guided Pathways to Success (Houston GPS) initiative. This multi-institutional partnership fosters collaboration among area colleges and universities with the goal of helping students graduate on time and with less debt. Additionally, Houston GPS is focused on streamlining the transfer process between local community colleges and universities.