How Is Advanced Programs Different in Europe and North America?
Advanced Programs (AP), a department of OU Outreach, specializes in delivering college courses to military personnel, civil service personnel and civilians around the world. AP operates in numerous military bases in North American and Europe and offers a wide variety of degrees.
AP’s intensive format, consisting of individual pre and post course work plus six days face to face with an OU professor, allows military ID card holders to obtain a quality graduate education in spite of their changing work schedule.
Both AP locations have a lot of similarities; but as would be expected, there are also some major differences in how AP operates in North America and in Europe.
“There are so many things that are both wonderful and challenging about working and living in Europe,” said Rose Petrunyak, program coordinator for AP Europe. “Since there are so many amazing personal and professional travel opportunities on the weekends, our students bring some really unique experiences into the classroom.”
Military deployments are also a challenge for many students. AP Europe does offer some courses online, but long absences coupled with intense work schedules can often derail a student’s progress.
Students aren’t the only ones with different experiences in Europe. Administrators have also had a new set of hurdles to overcome.
“Operating in six different countries affords plenty of opportunities to overcome policy challenges with each government and military command,” said Petrunyak. “Even paying a phone bill in some of these countries is a feat!”
Living and traveling in Europe can also be difficult. Professors have to acclimate quickly to cultural and logistical differences.
“There are a lot of logistical differences involved in our faculty traveling to Europe,” said Chris Sartorius, director of AP North America. “There are airline tickets, passport requirements, driving difficulties in Europe and more. The locations in Europe are really new and exciting for a lot of the faculty, but there are definitely some challenges.”
Despite these challenges, AP Europe has achieved a lot of success with both students and staff. Students have been pleasantly surprised that they can learn face-to-face with a professor who teaches the same subjects on OU’s Norman campus.
Beyond the possibilities for current service members to pursue quality programs of advanced study, AP Europe continually employs military spouses and prior military members in a wide variety of jobs, including site representative, counselor, and recruiter, admissions officer and more. These positions offer them meaningful employment and the opportunity to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree at employee rates.
“We have been encouraged to hear that many former employees have continued working in higher education and have excelled because of the education and experience they gained during their time with AP in Europe,” said Petrunyak.
Obtaining a degree while traveling as much as most service members can often be difficult, but AP offers a lot of help for students. If a student transfers from one AP base in North America to one in Europe, he or she can continue that program in Europe or vice versa. AP also offers about 20 online classes that can be taken while deployed or at another base.
In addition, each base has a site director who not only acts as the face of OU but also assists the students, faculty, and staff in whatever way they can. Site directors and their assistants are responsible for marketing, admissions, student services, faculty support, event planning and more.
Advanced Programs offers six graduate degree programs in total. In Europe, AP offers a Master of Education, a Master of Human Relations and a Master of Arts with an emphasis in International Relations. In North America, students can earn master’s degree in communication, economics, human relations, international relations and social work. Additionally, students in Europe can achieve a doctorate in organizational leadership.
The academic departments of AP work with the Graduate College to maintain the high standards found on OU’s Norman campus. These classes are even taught by many of the same professors.
“We provide the same exact, high-quality degree that’s offered here on the Norman campus,” said Sartorius. “That’s really a selling point for us in the field – we don’t modify our degree program, in terms of the rigor of the program, just because we have a compressed format. It’s a real OU degree.”
Typically, students achieve a graduate degree in about two years, depending on the pace of their study. AP has open admission for its graduate degrees, with no deadlines, allowing students to apply for admission at any time during the year. AP also offers open enrollment, requiring only a deadline of 30 days before the beginning of the class. This allows the students sufficient time to prepare for their classes before they start.
AP Europe is currently accepting applications for the 7th Cohort of the PhD in organizational leadership. The application window will remain open until June 30.
The main annual graduation ceremony in Europe will be held in Kaiserslautern, Germany on June 7. AP Europe will also have joint ceremonies with other schools in the following locations: Lakenheath, United Kingdom; Rota, Spain; Lajes, Portugal; Aviano, Italy; and Naples, Italy. The dates for these joint ceremonies are to be determined.
AP will also be celebrating its 50th anniversary in May 2014. The program began at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska in 1964. It has since expanded to more bases in North America and Europe, helping numerous military service members obtain graduate degrees and advance their careers.