The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission formally announced Monday (April 26) that all 12 of West Virginia’s public undergraduate colleges and universities will team up in order to help more adults return to college and earn a degree.

Bluefield State College, Concord University, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, Marshall University, Potomac State College of West Virginia University, Shepherd University, West Liberty State College, West Virginia State University, West Virginia University, West Virginia University Institute of Technology and West Virginia University at Parkersburg will participate in an initiative called RBA Today, a collaborative effort led by the Commission.

RBA Today enhances the state’s existing Regents Bachelor of Arts (RBA) program, a flexible degree option designed to help adults earn a bachelor’s degree while juggling other commitments, such as work and family. By taking part in RBA Today, the participating colleges and universities will be providing extra support and services to adult students seeking to complete a bachelor’s degree. Beginning this fall, participating institutions will offer new courses in compressed time frames, personalized counseling and support, and extended learning and service hours to accommodate adult students’ often busy schedules.

Governor Joe Manchin applauded the Commission and the state’s colleges and universities for providing innovative strategies to help adults in West Virginia pursue higher education.

“West Virginia is filled with talented, hard-working, and determined people, and there are many opportunities for them to harness that dedication for the betterment of not only themselves and their families, but also the entire state,” Manchin said. “West Virginia’s colleges and universities have long provided excellent educational opportunities for students. This initiative is a chance for adults to pursue quality education programs, earn degrees more efficiently and develop promising careers.”

Chancellor Brian Noland said he hopes the accommodations made through RBA Today will encourage adults to go back to school and complete a degree.

“More than 85,000 adults in West Virginia have completed some college, but have not earned a degree,” Noland said. “The RBA program and the options available through RBA Today can help those individuals return to school and achieve a lifelong dream of obtaining a college degree.”

Suzanne Shipley, President of Shepherd University, leads the Commission’s Adult Learner Task Force, which spearheaded the RBA Today initiative.

“RBA Today builds on an already successful program,” Shipley said. “These institutions have offered the RBA degree for quite some time, but now they’ve committed to providing the support networks adult students need to be successful in college through a high-quality curriculum that will be delivered in an accelerated timeframe.”

According to Shipley, students will now be able to earn their degrees more quickly and join the nearly 8,000 West Virginians who have completed the RBA degree during the past decade. Students will have the option to take rigorous courses online and during the evenings and weekends. Students can even gain credit for previously completed coursework and work experience.

“More than 4,000 adults have earned their Regents Bachelor of Arts degree through West Virginia University since 1975. With our programs in Morgantown, Keyser, Montgomery, along with 225 online courses, every West Virginian has access to a WVU degree,” WVU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michele Wheatly said. “WVU is extremely pleased to participate in the RBA Today campaign. Offering online classes for working adults is an important initiative — especially as non-traditional students embark on new career paths because of the economy. It’s truly a personalized and flexible degree pathway.”

Mark Thalman, a firefighter, earned his RBA degree from WVU online.

“Earning my college degree was something I had always wanted, but being a professional firefighter is something I wanted more,” Thalman said. “With online classes, I completed my RBA degree while working full-time.”

For more information about the RBA degree and RBA Today, visit


CONTACT: Jessica Kennedy, Communications Manager, Division of Student Success and P-20 Initiatives
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