Is a Professional Studies Degree Worth Your Time and Money?

Let’s face it: competition in the job market will not slow down soon. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a growth of about half a million jobs per year over the next 10 years, and there are plenty of people lined up to fill these positions. According to BLS, degree holders earn about $525 per week extra on average compared to high school grads.

But it’s not just about the money – it’s a game-changer in the unemployment arena too.  The unemployment rate for degree holders is 3.5% versus 8.3% for those with just a high school diploma. A college degree can significantly influence your career trajectory. You may have already had some college experience and earned some college credits, recognizing the paramount importance of a degree.

It’s easy to talk about how significant undergraduate degrees are, but finishing one while balancing the pressures of life outside of school, including jobs and families, can be very difficult. Furthermore, your future matters, and you want to ensure that getting a degree is a worthwhile financial investment that aligns with your long-term goals.

The Bachelor of Arts in Professional Studies (BAPS) program with the University of Cincinnati Online is a fully online bachelor’s program that is made to be completed in fewer than four years and based entirely on your professional goals. Let’s explore what makes a Bachelor’s in Professional Studies worth your time and money.

What Can You Do with a Bachelor’s in Professional Studies?

The University of Cincinnati Online builds its programs to be easier for working professionals. With an asynchronous format, and part time flexibility, you can complete your courses when it works best for you. The BAPS program is just the same but stands out by being one of the most adaptable undergraduate degree completion programs offered at UC.

All of UC Online’s undergraduate programs are designed to be highly applicable, but the professional studies degree experience is designed to be different for each student. No two students’ goals are the same, so it makes sense for a college experience to adapt accordingly. UC Online has condensed this concept to a specific field that you can study!

The program covers five core competencies that can lead to a wide variety of potential career paths that are all expected to grow in the next decade. These specific skills include:

  1. Self-management and Human Relations
  2. Fostering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  3. Complex Problem-Solving and Decision Making in Groups
  4. Data Literacy in Professional Contexts
  5. Effective Professional Communication

The O*Net Research Center, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration completed a recent study of career paths expected to grow. Some of the top paths that relate to the professional studies competencies include:

  • Service Sales Representatives: Median Wage = $62,400

This field is broad, but increasingly applicable. A recent study from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth found that the service industry is on the rise with the job force shifting away from manufacturing and other sectors over the next 10 years. Professionals in this field focus on resolving client problems by offering services on the individual or business level.

  • Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners: Median Wage = $52,560

This industry has seen a lot of change in the last few years. Virtual events and hybrid event structures have grown as relevant and as common as in-person events, which means those in this field have a heightened urgency to keep up with the latest technology. Technology will help shape their typical responsibilities which include coordinating activities for groups including staff and convention personnel and arranging events and conventions.

  • Project Management Specialists: Median Wage = $95,370

Project managers in any industry or professional environment have their work cut out for them. Their responsibilities include analyzing and coordinating the schedule, timeline, and budget of a particular product or service all while serving as the point of contact for a client or customer. Success in this field relies heavily on strong organization and problem-solving skills.

  • Market Research Analysts & Specialists: Median Wage = $68,230

A versatile position that involves gathering information for online, national, regional, or local markets. These positions are often tasked with determining the potential sales of a product, or service, and planning a marketing campaign accordingly. Market researchers often employ search tactics to analyze web metrics and help increase the visibility of a brand across search engines.

These are just some of the popular career paths that the competencies covered in the BAPS program will help you pursue. Each of these industries has seen growth over the past five years and is expected to grow over the next decade. It’s important to note that this is not an exhaustive list and that there are many more opportunities for career advancement with this degree!

What Makes a BAPS Degree Different?

What makes the BAPS degree stand out amongst other degree programs is the ability to fast-track the degree journey with your life experience. The Professional Studies curriculum is unique because of its emphasis on real-world experience and co-op learning to help you hone professional skills. However, you may be able to finish this portion of the degree even faster.

BAPS Full Curriculum Breakdown by classes to show why a Professional Studies Degree is a great investment

The co-op learning portion of the program counts for 18 out 120 total credit hours (around 15% for the program). If you are already in the workforce, you likely have some or all the qualifying life experience for this portion. Life experience can include several things like:

  • Professional Work History
  • Leadership Experience
  • Military Experience (Active Duty or Veteran)
  • Volunteer Experience

Each of these life experience pieces must be applied to one of the six life experience competencies that are covered during the first semester’s foundation course. These competencies are:

  1. Taking initiative, personal responsibility, and exhibiting professional integrity
  2. Managing projects, tasks, and time
  3. Managing conflict and interpersonal communications
  4. Exhibiting emotional intelligence, empathy, and inclusion in the workplace
  5. Using professional networking strategies and digital technologies
  6. Adapting to organizational change and emphasizing personal growth

Once you have a chance to evaluate your life experience through the assignments with your professors, you may be able to avoid additional co-op learning classes and be eligible to graduate even faster. This is all part of the customization offered exclusively for this program. In the BAPS program, mapping out your field of study can take as little as a few weeks whereas other institutions may take months doing the same thing.

Make the Right Move For Your Career

Now that you have an idea of what you can do with a Bachelor’s in Professional Studies, and its unique online learning experience, you may be wondering how well it aligns with your career goals. Committing to a new online degree program is a big step, and even with the support at UC Online, you’ll undoubtedly want to be sure you’re making the right choice.

Regardless of whether you have prior college credits, this program is a great choice for anyone who is in the workforce and wants to put their experience to work toward an education. Typically, there are three main goals that students have when enrolling in this program:

  1. Learning more about professional competencies and completing a degree for career advancement in their current field.
  2. Gaining the right skills to make a career change and explore a new path.
  3. Joining a program that respects and accepts their existing credit and experience toward completing a degree.

Whether you have a trajectory mapped out for your career already, or if finishing a four-year degree is on your bucket list and you’d like to do it faster, the Bachelor’s in Professional Studies is the program for you. The University of Cincinnati prides itself in offering top-notch student support from faculty and staff. These dedicated professionals will be here to assist you from application to graduation.

Getting Started at UC Online

If the Professional Studies program resonates with you, we encourage you to get in touch with our staff today! Our staff are experts at preparing students for all degree levels from associates to graduate degrees, and will answer any questions or concerns you have. You can visit our Bachelor of Arts in Professional Studies program page to submit your application online. If you have questions, you can email our team directly or call (513) 556-6459 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.

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