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SCPS and Curry Partner to Offer Early Childhood Concentration in BIS

By Jane Paluda | December 7, 2018

The School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS) and the Curry School of Education and Human Development will offer a concentration in Early Childhood within the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) program. Courses in the concentration will be available starting in the Fall 2019. 
The Early Childhood concentration will provide BIS students with foundational knowledge and competencies in the area of early childhood. Designed for individuals who are interested in working with young children and families, the concentration will prepare students to fill a variety of in-demand roles in childcare, school preparation, and social and humanitarian services. It will also be suitable for students who plan to pursue a graduate degree in teaching or other pathway to teaching licensure following graduation.
“A focus on early childhood opens career opportunities in multiple areas,” notes BIS Program Director Stephen Levine. Like many states in the U.S., Virginia faces a severe teacher shortage, with vacancies in the early childhood market among the highest in the state. Alongside demand for public school teachers, jobs in private schools and preschools, Head Start, childcare facilities, social services, and organizations that serve children and families, have been growing above national averages, as well.
Established in 1999, the Bachelor in Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) is a degree completion program designed for working adults to complete a UVA undergraduate degree on a part-time basis. It provides a liberal arts curriculum with the rigor and quality expected throughout the University, as well as sufficient flexibility to accommodate the needs of adult learners with online and evening classes.
The principal academic goals of BIS are critical thinking, clear and thoughtful communication (written and oral), and engagement in open, free, and respectful intellectual discourse. Students enter the program as third-year students, with 60 credits from prior study, and then complete another 60 credits within BIS to graduate. All BIS students select a concentration. The Early Childhood concentration develops students’ expertise in early childhood, alongside core professional skills in analytic reasoning, problem solving, and teamwork. Curry will contribute six core early childhood courses (18 credits) that all students in the concentration will be required to complete. All six courses will be available online. Students will complete the balance of their 60 credits via the core BIS curriculum and liberal studies electives.
“The Early Childhood concentration will enable students to complete an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree with a focus in early childhood to prepare for a new career, seek a promotion or new position within their field, keep their skills up to date, meet professional requirements, reenter the job market, and/or facilitate personal growth,” says Curry’s Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch, research associate professor and lead faculty advisor for the concentration. 
With its broad, liberal arts curriculum, BIS will also be an excellent option for students seeking to complete the broad array of coursework required to advance to a master of teaching program – such as the Curry School’s nationally-recognized Post-Graduate Master of Teaching (PGMT) – or pursue various alternative routes to teacher licensure in Virginia or elsewhere. Careful advising throughout their time in BIS will support students to ensure that they have the coursework needed for their desired path.
Applications are now being accepted for BIS and the concentration in Early Childhood.  The deadline for Fall admission is May 15, 2019.