Distance Education Demonstration Program

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Project Descriptions - Northcentral University
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Northcentral University is a privately owned, for-profit distance learning institution accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Northcentral University (NCU) is headquartered in Prescott, Arizona and offers 100 percent online distance learning programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree levels in Business & Technology Management and in Psychology.

Adult learners enrolled in NCU programs benefit from the opportunity to obtain a college degree without ever having to attend or reside on a college campus. This goal is accomplished by providing a variety of materials for each course, including a course outline and detailed syllabus, the list of textbooks and reference materials for the course, and information on how to communicate with the faculty mentor assigned for the course. The faculty mentor provides guidance, answers questions, and evaluates the individual learner's work. Contact between the learner and the faculty mentor is achieved through one or a combination of the following methods: Web site; e-mail; NCU's messaging system; telephone; voicemail; fax; video-conferencing; and occasionally person-to-person contact.

The educational emphasis developed by NCU to accomplish its mission has three key components: (1) distance learning; (2) active self-learning; and (3) one-on-one mentoring. The goal of Northcentral University is to promote an environment of active self-learning with the assistance of qualified and experienced faculty mentors. Active self-learning recognizes that education is a process where individuals with different learning needs and styles can be accommodated. It emphasizes learning that is meaningful, where individuals are involved in and enjoy the learning process, and where individuals acquire knowledge to better understand and cope with their own careers. The University's faculty mentors support the adult's active learning role by guiding and stimulating the learning process in one-on-one interaction. Northcentral University faculty mentors recognize individual learning styles and needs, encourage one-on-one contact, and emphasize the relevance of the material to the individual's situation.

Northcentral University delivers courses using a model that includes twelve starts per year with 16-week terms that have defined start and end dates. Learners are enabled to complete up to three 16-week terms per calendar year without overlapping their terms. This model insures educational quality by providing ample time for learners to complete one or more courses during a term and at the same time allows the flexibility for learners to complete their courses sooner if they choose.

Waivers Provided

Northcentral University has been granted waivers of the provisions involving the 50 percent Rules established under U.S. Department of Education regulations.

Financial Aid Issues/Alternatives

Initially, NCU developed policies and procedures to administer financial aid in a non-term, self-paced environment. However, as developments progressed, it became evident that tedious processing and tracking would be a significant administrative burden and would inhibit effective financial aid delivery. Therefore, with guidance from the Distance Education Demonstration Program staff, NCU made the decision to alter its course delivery to meet the definition of the standard term approach. This decision facilitated administration of financial aid while preserving the quality of NCU's distance education programs.

Additional Goals for Participation

Northcentral University's primary goal is to continue experimenting, developing, and refining ways to structure its financial aid delivery system to effectively meet the needs of its rapidly increasing number of learners while maintaining regulatory compliance in a totally online environment.

Consortial Agreements

  • Northcentral University has an established partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which gives learners with master's degrees in aeronautical-related disciplines, an opportunity to earn a Ph.D. in Business Administration with an aeronautical specialization. In addition, NCU has established similar partnerships with five other universities.
  • As a participant in a consortium of colleges and universities, NCU provides distance degree programs to law enforcement agencies such as the Franklin Township Police Department, Las Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Virginia State Police Department, and six other law enforcement agencies.
  • Articulation agreements are also established with 48 community colleges located throughout Arizona as well as out of state. Learners who earned their associate degree at one of NCU's partner community colleges are afforded the opportunity to continue their education online without having to relocate and with no residency requirements.

Demonstration Program Cohort

Northcentral University joined the Distance Education Demonstration Program in December 2003 as part of the third cohort.

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Last Modified: 04/16/2007