College degrees, certificates offered at several institutions in Westchase District
Whether you’re graduating from high school, looking to take your career to the next level, returning to the workforce or simply wanting to explore new directions, Westchase District offers several degree-granting higher education options that are worth considering.
“I had looked at other schools downtown, but I didn’t want to commute more than an hour each way for night school,” said Rayshell Ford, a recent graduate of American InterContinental University, one of five undergraduate institutions located in the District. “AIU was about 15 minutes away from both my home and my work, which allowed me to make it in time to attend evening classes. Plus, I felt I had the opportunity to get to know my course instructors personally.”
Convenience and class size are just two of the attractions for area working students seeking to further their education. Here’s a roundup of what’s out there:
Arts, engineering and entrepreneurship
With state-of-the art facilities and centers of excellence focusing on engineering, media arts and technology, and visual and performing arts, Houston Community College’s Hayes Road campus is the preferred choice for many area students. The media arts and technology center of excellence offers certificates and degrees in audio recording/video production, digital communication, filmmaking and music business. HCC has partnered with the University of Texas at Tyler so that students may earn a UT Tyler Bachelor’s degree in either civil, electrical or mechanical engineering at a cost of less than $20,000. Through the visual and performing arts programs, students can earn associate of arts degrees with emphasis in either art, dance, drama or music. Courses run between $67 and $156 per hour and financial aid is available for qualified students.
Also housed at the Hayes Road campus is HCC’s Center for Entrepreneurship. “We assist aspiring and existing entrepreneurs who are from all walks of life, age groups and backgrounds,” said Sandra Louvier, the center’s director. “Many have already been to college and are coming back to get just what they need to know, to do what they want to do, with what they already know, to turn it into a business, or to grow the business further.”
The center offers small business workshops, seminars, quick online continuing education classes and college credit classes, certificates and a two-year degree in entrepreneurship.
Houston Community College HCC Center for Entrepreneurship
2811 Hayes Road 2811 Hayes Road
A flexible foundation
Regionally accredited through the Higher Learning Commission, American InterContinental University offers programs in accounting, business administration, criminal justice, healthcare management and information technology. Various degrees are offered at the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s level. “Whether needing a degree for an entry-level job or to promote within a current career, AIU can provide students with a quality education,” said Brandye Cowan, associate director of admissions.
AIU has a student body of about 400, with a mix of domestic and international students. While many classes are offered online, at least 50 percent of classes must be taken on campus to graduate. Graduate degrees cost about $25,000. AIU has partnerships with many companies which provide students with financial grants.
“We offer flexible scheduling for working students with families,” Cowan said. “Our professors and department chairs have an open door policy for students needing extra support, we offer after-hours live chats through our website for answering questions and we have a learning center that offers free tutoring, which can be helpful for students who have been out of the classroom for a while.”
American InterContinental University
9999 Richmond Avenue
Prestigious. Professional. Paralegal.
Performing delegated work for which an attorney is ultimately responsible, paralegals perform a variety of tasks including maintaining and organizing files, drafting documents and conducting legal research. Following the recession of 2008, many law firms have replaced lawyers with paralegals on their staffs as a way to reduce costs, which has increased demand for paralegals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of paralegals and legal assistants to grow 15 percent by 2025. Helping to meet the need for qualified paralegals is The Center for Advanced Legal Studies, located in Westchase District at 800 W. Sam Houston Pkwy.
Since 1987, the center has graduated more than 6,000 students as certified paralegals. It offers a paralegal certificate program for students with an associate’s degree or higher for about $9,300 as well as an associate of applied science degree program for about $23,500. Traditional daytime weekday classes accommodate the schedules of stay-at-home parents, though about 80 percent of the center’s students take courses online. “Whether our students live in the Houston area or outside the Texas or U.S. borders, our online interactive instruction allows students real-time, face-to-face teaching with our instructors,” said James Scheffer, director of admissions.
Center for Advanced Legal Studies
800 W. Sam Houston Pkwy. S., Suite 100
Affordable associate degrees
While new to the area, Interactive College of Technology has served students in Houston since 1987 from a location on Hillcroft. Last year, the college moved into 30,000 square feet in Westchase District. ICT offers two-year Associate of Science degrees in office technology with emphases in accounting, business information systems and administrative support. It also offers diplomas in accounting, business information systems, administrative support and medical office administration.
With courses costing about $400 per credit hour, the college is ranked by the U.S. Department of Education as one of the best values for private, for-profit, two-year colleges. “Financial aid and work/study programs are available as well,” said Cynthia Bryson, campus director. “We don’t want to see our students in debt; we want to see them well-equipped to get jobs.”
Interactive College of Technology
2950 South Gessner Road
Founded in Pasadena, California, Fuller Theological Seminary established its Texas campus in Westchase District in 2007. Whether you’re considering preparing for traditional Christian ministry or want to pursue graduate theological studies as an academic career, Fuller offers a nondenominational education that provides students with not so much as an answer book but rather a guidebook for addressing spiritual questions. Currently about 120 students take a mix of evening, weekend and online classes. A masters of theology costs $33,000, while a masters of divinity costs about $50,000.
“One of the most beneficial aspects of studying at Fuller is the broad spectrum of views found in the classroom,” said Michael Murray, Fuller Texas regional director. “Because our coursework is designed to be multidenominational, there’s a healthy exchange between students and a mutual respect that develops when recognizing their similarities and differences. We don’t provide students with all the solutions, instead we teach them how to think theologically about topics in ways that are helpful and healthy.”
Fuller Theological Seminary
10200 Richmond Avenue, Suite 170