Eastern Washington University (EWU) was one of the first schools in the United States to announce it was moving all its classes online in response to the COVID-19 crisis. “Our partnership with AP was crucial in our ability to make this transition quickly and effectively,” says EWU interim president David May. “With AP’s help, EWU had already built a strong foundation of online expertise, instructional design, and know-how among our faculty and technology teams.”
EWU’s relationship with Academic Partnerships (AP) began two years before the pandemic. Founded in 1882 as a teacher-training academy, the regional public university, which today serves more than 12,000 students across 100 majors, approached AP in 2018 seeking support in developing and growing new online degree programs. AP was excited about the opportunity to partner with a university whose core themes are access, opportunity, and excellence and whose graduates are 44% first-generation college students.
In the fall of 2018, after several months of planning and collaboration with AP, EWU launched its first accelerated online graduate degree programs, focused on education. A year later, online graduate business programs were added. EWU’s online programs have been extremely successful thanks to their accessibility, quality, and affordability. Total cost for the full online M.Ed. degree is $13,475, and for the MBA degree it is $15,400. More than 1000 working teachers and business professionals are currently enrolled. Many students are EWU alumni who work on the other side of Washington and previously lived too far away to consider the university for their graduate work. But the convenience of an online degree changed that, and now many have returned to pursue their graduate degrees. In the first two years of the online programs, more than 230 students graduated, and average persistence has been strong at 74%.
Throughout the partnership, AP has helped EWU strengthen program recruitment, adapt the university’s curriculum for online delivery, and provided faculty coaching on how to create personal connections with their virtual students. When COVID hit, AP offered EWU free online STEM resource kits. EWU is now working with AP to expand its online degree programs to include a master’s in public health.
“The partnership with AP has been amazing since day one,” says Dr. May. “It has been especially essential in our response to the pandemic. The AP team is generous and talented and has made a meaningful difference for EWU communities.”