Badge enrollment set to increase enrollment at reduced tuition

Nicole Byrne

The Badge Program at Wichita State launched in the fall of 2015 with a single pilot course in Care of Populations. 

Since then, the program has developed into 18 specific courses covering seven different subject areas.

“Badges are designed to meet the needs of employers and employees,” said Kimberly Moore, director for workforce, professional and community education. “In the hiring process, it is difficult to identify employees who are able to perform specific skills sets for the job. To earn a badge, you have to meet a series of complex and measurable outcomes. Employers can drill into the badge and see the specific skills attributed to it.”

The program allows students to earn postgraduate education without completing a degree. Only individuals who are not enrolled in a degree-seeking program are eligible to register for courses. Faculty who meet Higher Learning Commission standards and individual department requirements teach the courses. 

Current or past faculty will teach nearly all programs. 

Each badge is worth 0.5 credit hours and costs a flat rate of $100, which includes tuition and fees. Compared to the cost for 0.5 credit hours for regular undergraduate tuition for online courses at $157.55 for residents and $303.21 for nonresidents, this costs less. Wichita State received special permission from the Kansas Board of Regents to offer this lowered rate for the program. There are also no textbook costs, as the courses are designed to utilize open source materials. 

Enrollment within the badge program is 20 students, but is expected to increase.

“Badges are new concept and having people understand them has been a challenge,” said Keshia Ezerendu, marketing & workforce education coordinator. “But we have a lot of interest and people are looking to develop their skills.”

As the program expands, the hope is to have students from across the country enroll, Ezerendu said. The program is being promoted nationally at several conferences and through an extensive digital marketing campaign.

“We’re using targeted marketing to connect with different organizations and groups,” Ezerendu said. “We look forward to growing the program and increasing enrollment. It’s important to us to grow this program.”

Increased enrollment in the Badge Program affects enrollment on a larger scale.

“Badge enrollment is counted in the overall headcount,” Moore said. “Departments also get to count students in their totals.”

With the program’s planned growth and expansion beyond Kansas, this has the potential to increase the disparity between reported enrollment numbers and the actual number of tuition dollars associated with that, Moore said. The goal is to introduce 12 new badges each fall semester.

“We’re pioneers when it comes to for-credit badges,” Moore said. “We’re really looking to meet the needs of working professionals.”