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Great Basin to offer English and science bachelor’s degrees

Great Basin College continues to strengthen its post-secondary education offerings to rural Nevada.

The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents approved two new bachelor’s degrees to be offered at the college beginning with the Spring 2016 semester.

The new degree programs that were approved on Sept. 11 are a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Science in Biological Science.

Great Basin’s most recent achievement not only displays its strength to deliver higher education to rural Nevada, but it proves GBC is willing to offer students options to pursue their many and varied goals.

“In keeping with the GBC mission, the new degrees serve educational needs of place-bound students located in our vast service area,” said Mike McFarlane, vice president for academic affairs. “Right now, people who live rural Nevada don’t have access to a variety of bachelor degrees.”

McFarlane explained the advantages of both degrees are the various employment opportunities possessing a degree presents and the broad skills students will take away from the programs.

“Both bachelor degrees are gateways into graduate level study,” said McFarlane. “B.A. in English graduates will be better prepared in lots of valuable areas including research, communication and technical writing, which are often the skills law schools and other graduate programs look for when accepting students into their programs.”

The same assets hold true for the Bachelor of Science degree as completion of the biology degree will give students employment opportunities in an array of careers, including land management, environmental consulting and lab technicians, among others.

Biology Instructor David Freistroffer said students who earn a bachelor’s degree in biology can translate that into graduate level study.

“A biology degree is often obtained by graduates who wish to enter professional

programs in medical schools, dental schools, and many other health professional programs,” Freistroffer said. “The degree will also fill immediate job vacancies that are very popular in our community that historically were once hard to fill.”

Students going for the biology degree will be required to attend labs in Elko, Winnemucca, or Pahrump. The new English degree classes will be available via distance education.

“We’re prepared to offer the degree online, but we’re also looking at some hybrid classroom structures through which in-class lectures and activities are accessible to distant students as well as students who prefer a physical classroom,” said English Instructor Josh Webster. “Our goal is to try and create a program that is as diverse in its approach as the needs of the students.” McFarlane said there is no immediate cost to the college to begin offering the new degrees immediately.

“Part of the reason GBC chose to offer these degrees is because we can already offer them effectively to rural Nevada.”

The new programs build on existing courses in existing programs at the college including the B.A. in Secondary Education, which offers endorsements in both English and biology.

“Our faculty is more than prepared to support these degrees in the classroom, and we’re highly qualified and capable in our respective fields,” Webster said. “Combining education students with students seeking careers in a range of fields gives our instructors a chance to teach course content from multiple viewpoints, which in turn gives students a deeper understanding of how what they’re learning applies in various contexts.”

Great Basin College President Mark Curtis explained that he is impressed by those who put in time and effort to bring these new educational programs to rural students.

“I am exceedingly pleased with the GBC faculty and staff who put so much work into the proposal of the new degrees and am deeply appreciative of the support we received from the board,” Curtis said. “I would also like to give a sincere thanks to Dean Thomas Schwenk of the University of Nevada School of Medicine who extended a strong letter of support for our B.S. in Biological Science degree.”

Students who pursue the bachelor’s degrees will earn an associate degree as they progress through the program. Those with an appropriate associate degree will enter the program with junior status.

Interested students are urged to let departmental faculty know so they can advise them, starting with the first semester.

Anyone interested in pursuing the English degree should contact Josh Webster at Joshua.webster@gbcnv.edu or call 775-753-2209. Those interested in the biology degree should contact David Freistroffer at david.freistroffer@gbcnv.edu or call 775-753-2018.

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