Once a Cougar, always a Cougar. That’s how you can sum up the journey so far for Bachelor of Professional Studies student Victoria Cowell of Columbia, South Carolina.
After attending the College of Charleston briefly in 2008, she went on to earn two associate degrees. While those degrees have worked out well, Cowell wanted a more substantial degree to take her further in her career. Soon she found herself on a mission to complete her bachelor’s degree. She knew she needed a flexible online program that would allow her to balance working full-time with being a wife and mother.
Enter the Bachelor of Professional Studies (B.P.S.) program — the College’s degree-completion program tailored for adult learners.
“This is it,” Cowell recalls thinking when she found the program webpage. “This is going to fit perfectly for working full-time and having a family.”
Eager to finish what she started, Cowell was set to concentrate in organizational management and development. However, after taking a project management class as an elective, she quickly realized how applicable it was to her current role as a financial analyst for the South Carolina Technical College System. In fact, project management has become such an essential skillset in the workforce, Nov. 4 is annually recognized as International Project Management Day to honor the hard work and dedication of the millions of project managers across the country and around the globe.
“Once I got into the program, my advisor Wendy Stephens learned who I was, my skillset and what I was doing at work,” shares Cowell. “She was then able to give me the great advice of ‘You should consider something else (for your concentration),’ and it has just worked out beautifully.”
Cowell says switching to project management enabled her to understand her job better. According to the Project Management Institute, by 2027, employers will need 87.7 million individuals working in project management-oriented roles.
“I was able to get a look at processes from the back end, how things are created,” she explains.
In the program’s project management concentration coursework, students learn to manage complex projects from beginning to end, while learning how to manage project scope, risk, budget and more.
“All of the classes enable students to apply what they learn immediately,” says Cowell. “I can take anything I’ve learned and apply it in my current position.”
And that is not by chance, says Michelle Futrell, assistant dean for professional studies and continuing education for the School of Business.
“By design, the Bachelor of Professional Studies degree is practical in nature,” says Futrell. “Working adult students with competing priorities need to see their return on investment sooner rather than later.”
B.P.S. students who choose to concentrate in project management also benefit from learning from credentialed industry professionals. And it makes all the difference, according to Cowell.
“It brings a lot of substance to the program to have instructors in the field who can answer questions and give you real-world examples,” she says. “It makes you want to come to class because you’re getting well-rounded instruction.”
The quality of the project management program is being recognized. Recently Bachelor’s Degree Center listed the College’s B.P.S. program as one of 25 best online bachelor’s degrees in project management. It also made the cut for the top 100 most affordable project management degrees by University HQ.
With a CofC degree soon in hand, Cowell is optimistic about the future.
“I know that this degree and the backing of the College of Charleston is going to take me far – no matter the path I choose.”