Union Institute & University (UI&U) is a private non-profit institution specializing in limited residence and distance learning programs for non-traditional college students. Their mission and vision statement reads: “Union Institute & University empowers adults to acquire, apply, and create knowledge through interdisciplinary, flexible, and collaborative programs focusing on social relevance, personal enrichment, and professional advancement. Union Institute & University aspires to educate generations of highly motivated adults who seek academic programs that engage, enlighten and empower them in their pursuit of a lifetime of learning and service.”
Union Institute was founded in 1964 as a “university without walls,” where adults could have the opportunity to pursue a degree regardless of where they lived and worked, through flexible scheduling and individualized programs. Many of today’s commonly used terms in higher education – nontraditional students, interdisciplinary study, distance learning, mentoring, and social relevance – refer to innovative concepts pioneered by Union nearly 50 years ago.
Today, Union has a total enrollment of 2,000 students including 1,162 undergraduates. Students may study online or at one of Union’s academic learning centers. The main campus headquarters is located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Union’s satellite campuses are located in Brattleboro, Vermont; Miami, Florida; Los Angeles, California; and Sacramento, California. In addition, a hybrid delivery model combines on-campus classroom learning with online distance learning.
Union students come from across the country and around the world. They generally range in age from their mid-twenties to their late sixties. While many of the students have full-time jobs and families, Union classes are also a good fit for young homeschool graduates. Most courses are one-to-one and individually guided, allowing students the flexibility to study at a comfortable pace that suits their busy lives. Students are able to schedule their own meeting times to communicate with faculty when it’s convenient for them.
Union faculty members understand that your life is already full of commitments, so they support the most efficient use of your time and resources through innovative teaching methods and individualized programs of study. Union has 400 full-time and part-time instructors, with a low student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. The experienced and caring faculty consists of recognized scholars and experts in a diverse range of academic fields and professional backgrounds. You can view their bios and photos by going to http://www.myunion.edu and choosing an academic program of interest, then clicking “faculty” on the drop-down menu.
A Union education honors your life experiences and helps you to achieve your personal and career goals, while providing you with a transformational education that helps you make a difference in your own life and the lives of others. Relevant coursework promotes critical thinking, problem solving, and the professional growth necessary for advancement. Personal achievement, accountability, and a productive leadership attitude are just some of the characteristics that learners possess and continue to develop throughout their Union experience.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Liberal Studies degrees are offered with concentrations in: Arts, Writing & Literature, Education, Environmental Studies & Sustainability, Global Studies, History & Culture, Psychology & Human Development. Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees are offered in: Business Administration, Business Management, Child Development, Criminal Justice Management, Early Childhood Studies, Elementary Education, Emergency Services Management, Maternal Child Health: Lactation Consulting, Organizational Leadership, Secondary Education, Social Work, and Special Education.
When students have interests that cross the boundaries of academic disciplines, they may work with an advisor to devise a self-designed concentration. Such a concentration may involve a concept, idea and/or theme such as “freedom,” or focus more closely on a subject that does not fit easily into other concentrations. For example, topics such as “environmental design,” “studies for the ministry,” or “entrepreneurship” may incorporate an inquiry into two or more disciplines such as science and art, history and philosophy, or economics and political science.
Students can accelerate their program and still gain a high-quality education. To assist students in completing their degrees on a timetable that best accommodates their needs, Union offers its academic programs in a three-semester per year format. By avoiding the rigid time schedules of traditional campus-based courses, students are able to take a greater course load each semester than would otherwise be possible, and earn a bachelor’s degree in less time than it would take in a traditional college program. Thanks in part to this flexibility, Union has a first year retention rate of 79%, and approximately 66% of undergraduate students earn their degrees from the university.
Since its inception, Union’s founders recognized that learning is often integrated with life. They didn’t see any need for students to spend time sitting through classes that teach them what they already know. Thus, the undergraduate programs have liberal policies for acceptance of prior learning credits, honoring both professional and personal achievements and the knowledge gained through previous employment, military training, volunteer efforts, and other life experiences.
Union is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Students may transfer academic credits earned at other regionally accredited colleges and universities. These credits are not subject to any time limitations, but if enrolled in the Bachelor of Science program, they must be applicable to your program of study. Union can also award credit for CLEP, DANTES, and other learning assessments. Although prior learning must be documented and evaluated by the faculty, this process is less time consuming than taking conventional college classes.
Union only requires a high school diploma or GED to apply, so you are free to get started on your bachelor’s degree right away, with or without previous credits. A full range of federal and state financial aid programs, including grants and loans, are available to Union students who are eligible for them. A growing number of scholarships are also available. Union makes it easy to apply online and create a user profile that gives you the ability to save partially completed applications for finishing at a later date.
Union offers a number of student services including a virtual bookstore, Writing Center, and library. The Union Library is fully online and provides access to a growing collection of more than 50,000 electronic full-text periodicals via 150+ online licensed research databases. In addition to electronic journals, they offer access to 150,000+ e-books and 1 million+ doctoral dissertations from colleges and universities worldwide, as well as over 5,000 dissertations produced by Union students.
Union Institute & University will be hosting an open house at the Cincinnati academic center on August 15, 2013. The event is free and open to the public. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about Union’s flexible undergraduate programs. University representatives will be available to answer your questions and discuss your academic goals. Light refreshments will be provided. Questions? Contact Nikki at 513-487-1261 or nikki.dominique@ myunion.edu or visit http://www.myunion.edu.
A Student’s Perspective
“Union Institute and University [offers] an online or low residency option for BA in Liberal studies that is test-free. There are many concentrations available from teacher licensure to self-directed. No SAT or ACT required for admission. Evaluations are narrative based rather than grade based. I am in my second year at Union. I was homeschooled from grades 1-12 and find the program similar to my homeschool experience. The transition was fairly easy for me. Students choose topics that interest them. Students are required to read a minimum number of scholarly resources (16) and complete a minimum number of pages of academic writing (32). High School students interested in this school should focus on critical thinking, reading comprehension, and academic writing. They also offer a number of BS degrees, but I believe these courses are more traditional.” ~Amanda Dunlap