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Students who want to wade into higher education instead of jumping in will have the option next fall of choosing an associate degree program at University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

School leadership said offering associate degrees meets regional education needs while strengthening relationships with Gateway and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, according to a story in Biz Times Milwaukee.

“The new, highly specialized associate degrees broaden our academic portfolio and are aligned with regional needs,” UW-Parkside chancellor Debbie Ford is quoted as saying in a press release. “They also help strengthen the many partnerships we have with Gateway Technical College and other institutions of higher education in southeastern Wisconsin that provide opportunities for students to reach their academic goals.”

Liberal arts and leadership degrees will be offered under the new Associate Degree of Arts program, and students will also have the opportunity to participate in financial economics, physics and laboratory science programs under the new Associate Degree of Science list, the story continues.

Affordability is a factor as well since associate degrees cost less than a bachelor’s degree. The new programs also give students the ability to transfer into a four-year program like the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s College of Engineering & Applied Science with an associate degree in physics.

DeAnn Possehl, UWP executive director for educational outreach and adult/nontraditional pathways, told the newspaper the new associate degree programs offer flexibility for older students new to college or returning after a long absence.

“Upon completion of the associate of arts degree, students possess critical skills necessary to navigate the increasingly complex employment landscape and will have the option to continue toward a bachelor’s degree in a number of different majors,” she is quoted as saying. “The flexibility of the associate of arts degree is a perfect option for adults who started college and never finished or who are just now getting ready to start.”