Monday, May 24, 2010

Rio Salado Debuts Accelerated Degree Program

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado PR Manager

Rio Salado College has been a pioneer in higher learning for more than 30 years. The college represents a new model of higher education for those who are seeking an education through non-traditional means.

Rio Salado College was the first school in Arizona to go completely online, and to educate employees where they work. It is the first college in the nation to offer weekly start dates. Now, the Tempe-based college is reintroducing an innovative program called RioPASS, which stands for Pathway for Achieving Student Success. RioPASS is an accelerated two-year associate degree program for students who have a high school diploma (or GED).

“One of the unique elements of the program is that it is offered in a hybrid format,” said Kishia Brock, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs at Rio Salado College. “This means the students have the flexibility of online learning paired with the support of an in-person classroom environment.”

Students in the program also are admitted as a cohort (a group) and proceed through a prescribed sequence of classes. This means that of the members of the cohort take the same coursework together at the same time, in the same sequence, for the two years they are in the program. The cohort meets periodically on Saturday mornings at Rio Salado College’s main site in Tempe.

“We designed this program with the idea of giving students more support, which we believe will help more students complete their degrees,” said Brock. “RioPASS participants will receive support from instructors, specialized tutors, and students in their cohorts, who are taking classes simultaneously.”

According to Brock, another unique feature of the program is the benefit of how the classes are paired.
“This is an accelerated program, and students take two classes at a time for eight weeks,” said Brock. “Classes are paired so that assignments are shared and utilized in both classes as part of a learning community.”

After completing the two-year track, students earn an Associate in Arts degree with coursework in General Education, including Sustainability and Environmental Literacy, Business and Liberal Arts.
“If interested, the students can earn certificates on the way to their associate degrees,” said Brock.

For more information about RioPASS, call (480) 517-8580 or visit

Rio Salado College is hosting free information sessions for students who want to learn more about the RioPASS program. Sessions will be held at Rio Salado College, 2323 W. 14th St., Tempe.
  • Thursday, June 17, 2010 @ 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 19, 2010 @ 10 a.m.