Adult Degree Program


Robert Gardner, Director; Jeanne Mizher, Secretary

Mission Statement

In keeping with the Christian mission and academic goals of the University, the purpose of the Adult Degree Program is to give a broad spectrum of students an opportunity to learn and to earn college credit through distance education. Distance education is focused on the delivery of a select number of programs and courses. The courses are taught by the same faculty who teach on-campus programs and content, objectives, and outcomes are the same. Southwestern Adventist University faculty and staff are committed to helping distance education students complete their programs successfully.

The Adult Degree Program offers distance education to individuals who often have commitments to family, work, and community that make it impossible to attend classes on campus on a regular basis. Mature and motivated students will find the flexibility of a distance education study program helpful in their pursuit of various higher-education opportunities. The Adult Degree Program has been offered since 1980 and hundreds of students have successfully completed degree and certification requirements in this manner.

Aims of the Program

The objectives of the Adult Degree Program are:

  1. To provide students with distance education courses that contain the same rigor, currency, and quality that is offered in the traditional curriculum.
  2. To provide appropriate distance education technology and be responsible for the quality of all aspects of the delivery method.
  3. To provide adult degree students with the necessary academic activities required to complete a college degree or certification through distance education.
  4. To provide distance education students with access to important academic support services including library and learning resources, information on technology employed in the program, and counseling and testing services.
  5. To provide distance education students with a full range of student services appropriate to support the program, including admissions, financial aid, academic advising, registration, delivery of course materials, degree audits, and graduation assistance.


Admission to the Adult Degree Program falls under the transfer student admission policies described on page 7 of this Bulletin. In addition, the program has set minimum requirements to ensure that the adult orientation of the program is maintained.

Eligible students:

  1. Have completed a minimum of 24 transferable semester hours of college credit.
  2. Have work experience.
  3. Are at least 25 years of age.
  4. Have a cumulative grade point average of 2.00 or higher on all previous college work.

Adult degree applicants must:

  1. Complete an application for admission.
  2. Have official transcripts from all previously attended colleges sent to the Adult Degree Program office.

New Student Seminar

Students accepted into the Adult Degree Program must attend an admisisons seminar prior to beginning classes. The admissions seminar is offered on-line. The seminar provides students with academic information on degree completion requirements, information about registration and financial aid, on-line classes on information literacy and distance education technology, sessions on alternative ways of acquiring college credit, and other 0n-line activities to assist the adult student to reenter the world of the university through distance education.

Transfer Credits

The Office of Admissions and Records is responsible for transfer credit evaluation. Transcripts are reviewed to determine which academic credits will transfer and their applicability to degree requirements. Course credits earned from regionally accredited colleges and universities will be accepted as transfer credit subject to the following guidelines:

  1. Courses with grades of C- or higher will transfer.
  2. Concurrent enrollment for transfer credit must be approved prior to registering at another college or university. The student must file a request with the Adult Degree Program office, and the course(s) must be approved  for applicability of credit for degree requirements.
  3. A limited amount of transfer credit from certain unaccredited schools may be accepted upon review by the faculty.
  4. Courses considered technical, developmental/remedial, continuing education, co-operative education, extension, English as a Second Language, and non-credit classes will not transfer.
  5. Even though credit hours are transferable, the transferred hours may not necessarily apply toward a particular degree program or general education.
  6. Religion courses will be considered for transfer.
  7. Transfer students' cumulative grade point averages will include both grades earned in courses accepted in transfer and grades earned in courses taken in the Adult Degree Program.
  8. Transfer of experiential credit is described below in the section on Alternatives for Acquiring Credit.

Provisional Admission

Students who do not meet the requirements for regular admission may be provisionally admitted for one term. Criteria for regular admission must be met prior to registering for a second term. Students younger than 25 years of age may be granted an exception by the Adult Degree Committee.

International Students

Admission requirements for international students are different from the requirements for U.S. citizens. International students who apply to the Adult Degree Program must comply with the academic admission policies on page 7 of this Bulletin. General information related to the on-campus residence of international students does not apply.


Former Adult Degree Program students are encouraged to apply for readmission by submitting an updated application. Application for readmission is required for a student who has not registered for three or more consecutive semesters. Transcripts of subsequent work taken at other colleges or universities will need to be submitted. New degree audits will be prepared and reviewed with readmitted students and their faculty advisors. The degree requirements in effect at the time of readmission will be applicable. Students not maintaining active enrollment will be withdrawn from the program.

Alternatives for Acquiring Credit

Adult Degree Program students can take advantage of the following alternatives for acquiring college credit:

  1. CLEP is a national system of college credit by examination offered by the College Board in Princeton, New Jersey. The  policies on CLEP examinations are described on page 43 of this Bulletin.
  2. Proficiency examinations provide the opportunity to challenge a course for credit. The polices for this alternative are also described on page 26 of this Bulletin.
  3. Credit for prior learning is available through the portfolio assessment program. The student may receive up to 16 credits for college level learning acquired outside the formal credit granting process. To obtain this credit, the student must register for ADPS 230 Prior Learning Assessment, a one hour course. The course guides the student through the development of a portfolio to document college level learning. The portfolio will be evaluated by faculty in the discipline for which credit is requested. A limited number of courses, primarily in business and religion, are available for experiential credit. The student considering this alternative should consult carefully with the Adult Degree Program office for course applicability. Credit awarded through the portfolio does not apply toward the 32 hour residency requirement. In addition to the tuition for the Portfolio Development course, there is an evaluation and transcription fee for experiential credit.

Financial Information

The tuition rate for students in the Adult Degree Program is $535 per semester credit hour. There are no scholarship or payment plans for this program. All charges must be covered at the time of registration. Students are eligible for many financial aid plans and are encouraged to contact the  Student Financial Services office at the time they apply for admission. Students will be issued an ID card and those who are able to come on campus are welcome to use the library and other facilities like the gymnasium.

Degree Requirements

Students must meet the graduation requirements described on page 49 of this Bulletin. A minimum of 32 hours for the bachelor's degree and 24 hours for the associate degree must be taken in residence. Alternatives for acquiring credit do not apply to the residency requirement. The final 12 credits taken prior to graduation must be completed in residence.

Academic Policies

The academic policies of the University described from page 35 to page 57 of this Bulletin apply to students in the Adult Degree Program. Since most ADP students have additional responsibilities of employment and family, a normal course load is considered to be two courses per term (6-8 credits). Students may take up to 13 credits per term without petitioning for an overload. Petitions for an overload are filed with the Adult Degree Program office and approved by the Academic Standards and Practices Committee.

A student may realize early in the semester that he or she cannot complete a course in a timely manner. The policy for withdrawing from a course is described on page 37 of this Bulletin. Students wishing to drop a course need to notify the Adult Degree Program office prior to the last day to withdraw from a class. This date is listed in the Academic Calendar on the inside cover of the Bulletin. The Adult Degree Program office will regularly inform students of the dates for dropping a class. Refunds to students withdrawing from a course are made on a prorated basis. Students will be informed of the eligible refund at the time they request a withdrawal from a course. Withdrawing from a class may also affect financial aid eligibility. The student should check with the Adult Degree Program office to understand the financial impact of reducing course enrollment.

It is expected that students will complete all academic work for a course during the dates designated for the semester of registration. The policy on Incomplete Grades is on page 39 of this Bulletin. After first seeking the approval of the instructor, the student files a request with the Adult Degree Program office for an incomplete grade and an extension of time to complete the requirements of the course. The Adult Degree Program office will review the request and forward it to the Vice President for Academic Administration for official action. Incomplete grades may adversely affect the assessment of satisfactory academic progress used to determine eligibility for continuing financial aid.

Undergraduate Majors

  • Certificate

    • Church Ministry
  • Associate of Science Degree

    • General Studies
  • Bachelor of Science

    • Business
    • Elementary Education
    • General Studies
    • Psychology
    • Social Science
  • Bachelor of Arts

    • History
    • Religion
    • Social Science - International Affairs
    • Theology

Post Baccalaureate

Alternative Certification Program

Distance Education

Distance education courses are available to a wide spectrum of university students. The Adult Degree Program office is available to provide assistance to students in these other programs. The university uses Desire2Learn (D2L) as the on-line course management system. All courses require the student to have access to the Internet and e-mail. Some courses have video lectures which are played on a computer. Other  programs which currently use distance educaiton courses are described below.

Independent Study

Students who are approved  for independent study may take the course, if it is available, through distance education. Students should contact the Adult Degree Program office for access to the course on D2L.

Summer Distance Education

Distance education courses offered by SWAU are available for traditional, on-campus, undergraduate students during the summer. The Summer Distance Education course schedule is available for students prior to the beginning of summer registration. Students interested in this option should contact the Adult Degree Program office foraccess to the course on D2L.  Summer students must first obtain registration approval from the Registrar, his or her academic advisor and receive clearance from the Student Finance office.  Adult Degree Program tuition rates apply to courses taken in this program.

Adventist Digital Education Consortium (ADEC)

Southwestern Adventist University is a member of the Adventist Digital Education Consortium (ADEC). More information about the consortium and the services it provides is available at its website. University students are eligible to take on-line courses provided by other Seventh-day Adventist colleges and universities. See

Teacher Certification

For a number of years, the Adult Degree Program has offered the Teacher Education Program through distance education. Post-baccalaureate students interested in completing the requirements for teacher certification must apply for admission to the University and to the Teacher Education Program. See page 130 of this Bulletin for further information or contact the Department of Education by telephone at (817) 645-3921 extension 6256 or on-line at academics/education.asp. A special distance education teacher certification program for teachers in the Seventh-day Adventist Southwestern Union Conference is also available. Teachers interested in this program should contact the Southwestern Union Department of Education. The e-mail address is or telephone (817) 295-0476.