University System of Georgia Announces New Nexus Degree
Wednesday, February 14th, 2018
With approval by the Board of Regents, the University System of Georgia announced the creation of a new college education credential.
The nexus degree will emphasize the connections between industry, skilled knowledge and hands-on experience in high-demand career fields such as cybersecurity and financial technology. This new, short-term college credential expands on an educational portfolio that already includes associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.
Nexus degees spring from the ideas emerging from the University System’s ongoing College 2025 Initiative, which seeks to refine the delivery and accessibility of public higher education to meet 21st-century learning and career needs.
“The credential enables campuses to nimbly address workforce needs in their community and offer an adaptive degree structure, while helping people expand their knowledge base over time and different careers,” Chancellor Steve Wrigley said. “It is offering modern skills in the essential fields of today’s industry.”
The new degree will entail 18 hours of coursework, with at least six of those hours in experiential learning such as internships or in-the-field experiences. At least 12 hours of coursework must be at the upper-division level. Depending on the nexus degree focus, some prerequisite courses may be necessary.
Curriculum for the credential is being designed in collaboration with industry experts to ensure it meets specific requirements for high-demand jobs, including those in the market now and those planned for the future.
“The nexus degree is a synergy of the essential knowledge and skills that today’s workplace needs with the hands-on experience to put that knowledge into practice,” said Dr. Tristan Denley, USG executive vice chancellor for academic affairs and chief academic officer. “This new 21st-century degree structure will allow our students to more easily adapt their education to their career dreams.”
Industry officials have told University System leaders they want to hire people who have experience in specialized fields and who can apply their knowledge and skills quickly. The nexus degree aims to fill that need by giving students a specialization in priority career fields and emphasizing experiential learning.
“The primary building block of Georgia’s pro-business climate is our highly-skilled workforce,” Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson said. “As we emerge as a leader in the cybersecurity and financial technology industry sectors, the nexus degree will serve as the perfect supplement to ensuring that we equip the workforce of tomorrow with the education and skills they need to qualify for these high-demand career fields.”
“Our FinTech companies are looking for talented people who have experience but also know and understand the industry,” said H. West Richards, a Fintech Atlanta board member and executive director of the American Transaction Processors Coalition. The coalition represents more than 70 Georgia-based companies involved with the rapidly growing financial technology industry. Georgia-based companies process 70 percent of all credit, debit and prepaid card transactions in the United States.
“It’s this combination of academic preparation and experience in the field that helps people make an immediate impact on the job,” Richards said. “This unique new degree has the potential to create job opportunities in an exciting field, and help our companies fill a huge demand for talent. This is yet another innovative major step by Georgia’s University System to meet industry demand.”
While a nexus degree can stand on its own, it also allows USG’s 26 institutions to be creative in using the credential to expand on other educational opportunities.
That includes the potential to use a nexus degree toward completion of a new kind of associate degree, one targeted toward a high-need technical field.
It includes new options to create stackable credentials concentrated in highly specialized fields as part of a bachelor’s degree.
The new degree is additionally valuable for people who may have a job but want to acquire a new skill, or who have not yet completed a college degree and want to advance.
USG institutions have entered the planning stages for how a nexus degree can benefit their students and communities, and will tailor new programs accordingly. Each individual program created as a nexus degree must receive additional approval by the Board of Regents to ensure the integrity of the degree and the curriculum.
Nexus degrees are expected to be available as soon as this fall.