New Programs to Expand Redeemer’s Impact

By Redeemer University Modified on May 30, 2024
Tags : Academics | News

Redeemer University plans to launch new microcredentials, certificate programs, and graduate degrees, creating building blocks that will diversify the institution’s academic program array.

 New Programs to Expand Redeemer’s Impact

Over the last decade, the post-secondary education sector has seen a significant shift to non-traditional forms of learning. In 2020, the Government of Ontario announced a $59.5 million investment over three years to support microcredentials. This was a response to shortages in the labour market and the need for a faster turnaround for specific skills.

While not eligible for that provincial funding, Redeemer University also recognized that the needs of students and the marketplace are changing and began conversations exploring options for educational opportunities beyond traditional undergraduate degrees, such as microcredentials and certificates.

These options would result in Redeemer expanding its traditional audience of undergraduate students. It would also increase the resource base of the university through revenues, which go beyond those associated with tuition fees for the academic programs currently offered. New non-traditional programs would help meet industry and learner needs, expanding Redeemer’s Kingdom impact, while maintaining focus on Redeemer’s primary mission, vision, and Reformed Christian approach to learning.

“The post-secondary landscape continues to change, and young Christians continue to look for a wide variety of learning opportunities,” says vice president, academic, Dr. Peter Neumann. “The goal is to begin offering programs that help to expand opportunities for more Christian students, while preserving Redeemer’s foundation, which is the formative four-year undergraduate degree integrating faith, life and learning on campus.”

Offering flexible program options

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated significant investment in classroom technology at Redeemer that allows for a future with more flexible course delivery. Later that same year, Redeemer gained provincial approval for greater degree-granting authority, giving the university the authority to grant 20 possible new degrees including nine master’s degrees.

So, how does a Christian university set out to offer more options to meet the needs of more Christian students? Neumann says Redeemer must build the infrastructure, systems, and processes to be able to innovate for the future.

“We want to keep what we’re doing well, but expand and build on that,” he says. Offering greater flexibility and accessibility to students that might have begun a career, have a family or don’t have the ability to be on campus full-time will open up many new possibilities in the future. “We can’t launch these programs without having the roadway, the infrastructure for this new type of student.”

As the shape of the local church changes post-pandemic, the need for church leaders to obtain knowledge and training increases. Redeemer is confident it can serve learners in the greater Christian community through church leadership microcredentials. A microcredential is a short, competency-based learning opportunity culminating in recognition of that learning achievement in a specific area, skill, or competency.

“We have a constituency that is very connected to Redeemer,” says Neumann. “There’s a lot of goodwill through church support across a wide range of denominations, but especially in the Reformed world.” He says the university isn’t looking to compete with seminaries, but to offer supplemental church leadership microcredentials on topics that would serve church board members and ministry leaders. Biblical leadership, administration, pastoral care, human resources and legal, as well as denomination-specific microcredentials could be offered as early as this fall in a flexible format that allows learners to participate at their own pace online.

Microcredentials are intended to be non-academic, enhancing skills, developing expertise, or providing certifications relevant to specific industries or professions, and adapt quickly to changing trends and needs in various sectors.

New certificate programs

Redeemer also has plans for new academic programs for the 2024-25 academic year. Redeemer’s School of Business has seen significant growth in the last few years and the addition of the bachelor of business administration has only strengthened that growth. Building a certificate program in not-for-profit management that makes use of courses Redeemer already offers or has offered in the past, but with more flexibility for students, is a natural fit. Courses in this certificate program will be offered online asynchronously, giving students the flexibility to learn at times during their day and week that are convenient for them, while still completing courses within the term timeframe.

Certificate programs in other areas are also being explored. Once the infrastructure is in place to offer courses for new certificate programs online, Redeemer will be better prepared to undertake bigger program initiatives to attract even more students.

“We’re going to learn and develop infrastructure that doesn’t currently exist,” says Neumann. “But a year from now, we’re going to look back and have much more knowledge and experience. A lot of planning, thought work, and collaboration is happening with groups across the institution. We’re creating the stepping stones to take bigger steps.”

Redeemer’s first master’s programs

By fall 2025, Redeemer expects to be ready to offer its first graduate degree programs. While still in an exploratory phase, a committee of faculty and staff from various departments across the university has been meeting to discuss the infrastructure required to run master’s programs that set Redeemer apart. Initial talks have the committee looking at a master of business administration as a starting point to launch Redeemer into graduate studies. Other master’s degrees that are being considered are in areas like humanities, Reformed philosophy and thought and counselling. A master’s of education is also under consideration.

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