The $10,000 Bachelor’s Degree That Works

illustration of an article

by Daniel Fusch, Academic Impressions

A few years ago, National Louis University in Chicago, which has historically served adult working students, has launched the new Harrison Professional Pathways Program, which provides access to bachelor's degrees for traditional-aged high school graduates from all socioeconomic and academic backgrounds, but aims in particular to increase college access and success for first-generation, often low-income students. Priced at only $10,000 per year, the program is remarkable both in its outcomes and in the intentionality of its design. The curriculum, student support, and the financial model were all designed deliberately to meet the needs of this student demographic.

The program was launched in response to a low (14%) four-year college completion rate for Chicago Public high school freshmen. This caught our attention; here in Denver, CO, where Academic Impressions is based, the four-year college graduation rate for Denver Public Schools graduates is just 9%. These low percentages are red flags, and when colleges can innovate to answer this societal need, that is a clear win. It takes courage on the part of the institution's leadership to create the space needed for that innovation and to dedicate institutional resources toward it, and it takes intentionality to do so in a way that is sustainable. Yet National Louis University has done so very successfully with very few resources, and much of what they have done is replicable for other institutions.

To learn more about this, we spoke recently with Aarti Dhupelia, the institution's vice president of strategic initiatives.

We hope you’re enjoying this read. The full text of this article or report is complimentary for our Daily Pulse subscribers. to read it!


Get hundreds of articles and reports like this one — to have your Daily Pulse and other updates from Academic Impressions delivered to your inbox.

Daily Pulse is a curated email digest of practical strategies, timely research reports, and current events in higher ed. You’ll also get periodic updates about our upcoming events and other services, as well as free access to hundreds of articles on this site.

We are excited to bring you the most critical updates and reports in higher education. Thank you for your interest!



Hear from Aarti Dhupelia at National Louis University in our digital recording The $10,000-a-Year Bachelor's Degree that WorksGet an insider perspective of the "nuts and bolts" of running this comprehensive program, and leave with considerations for how the various aspects of this program can be applied and scaled at your own institution.