Frequently Asked Questions

Is Southwestern College accredited?

Yes, Southwestern College and the Professional Studies’ programs (both on ground and online) are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

How many credits will I need to finish my degree?

To graduate from Southwestern College with a bachelor’s degree, you must complete at least 124 credit hours, with at least 60 of those hours from a four-year institution and at least 30 from Southwestern College Professional Studies.

How long will it take me to complete my degree?

That depends on a lot of factors, including how many hours you transfer into Southwestern College and whether your work and family obligations allow you to take courses without long breaks. You may take one or two courses each session, and our advisors will help you make out a class schedule that will work for you. If you transfer in 60 credit hours and take one course each session without sitting out, you would complete your degree in a little over 2 years.

Can I combine on-ground and online courses?

Absolutely! Many of our learners combine classroom courses with online courses, sometimes even in the same session.

What’s the difference between the degree I’ll earn at Southwestern College Professional Studies, and the degree students earn at traditional campuses?

There’s no difference. You’ll earn a bachelor’s degree, or a master’s degree, just like traditional students who go to college right out of high school. The only difference is in the way you go to class. Instead of semester-long classes which meet a couple of times a week, your classes typically will be online (so you complete them at the times most convenient for you), or once a week in a classroom. The classes themselves will be only six weeks long so they will be focused and intense. The difference between professional studies and a traditional campus isn’t what you learn, it’s how you learn. The degree is exactly the same.

My employer will reimburse me for some of my classes. Can I wait to pay my tuition until I’m reimbursed?

Sure. We can work out a deferred payment plan as long as arrangements have been made ahead of time.

Besides tuition, what expenses will I have?

We try to keep additional expenses to a minimum. The only additional costs you will have are for your books. No other fees (parking, application, student activity, etc.) are charged in Professional Studies programs.

How long does it take to get started on my degree at Southwestern College Professional Studies?

You can start as soon as a course session starts. We give learners eight weeks to get all transcripts from previous colleges to us; you can begin your classes even before they come in.

Everything you need to get started can be found on our Web site. Simply fill out and submit the Application for Admission, complete the Authorization for Repayment Agreement, then give us a call or send an e-mail and we will walk you through the first enrollment. If you need financial aid, we can help you with that application too.

If you prefer, you may come to one of our centers and meet with a program representative, and all of the paperwork can be completed at this time.

How many of the credit hours I’ve already earned at other colleges will transfer to Southwestern College?

We do our best to make all of your past college work for you. If your transfer hours come from an institution in good standing with an accreditation organization that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, and are not credits awarded for participation in athletics or development courses, they will be accepted for transfer. After official copies of your transfer credits have been received from the colleges where you accumulated them, one of our advisors will help you determine exactly how many more hours you’ll need.

Is there an application fee?

No. Southwestern College Professional Studies does not require an application fee.

What is the average amount of financial aid received by students of Southwestern College Professional Studies?

The average amount of aid awarded for undergraduate Professional Studies learners who have applied for Federal financial aid is $10,210 per year, based on the 2010-2011 award year. For more information on financial aid, please email

How much is the tuition for the program?

The tuition rate for all of our undergraduate programs for the 2013-2014 academic year is $411 per credit hour.

How many classes can I take at a time?

Undergraduate learners are limited to two undergraduate classes per six-week session. If you would like to take an “overload” then you must contact your Academic Success Coach to request approval. The Director of Learner Support and Academic Success reviews all class overload requests.

How do I enroll for classes?

Southwestern College offers two avenues for enrolling in classes. You may see your advisor or you may enroll online through Self Service.

I think I have finished or am close to finishing all my course requirements, how do I get my degree?

Learners should verify with their advisor to ensure they are done with all their course and graduation requirements. To receive your degree, each learner must submit an application for degree in advance of the deadline to their advisor. Degrees are conferred 3 times per year, May, August, and December with commencement ceremonies in May. Learners may or may not participate in Commencement at their discretion.

Will my degree look different than a traditional learner’s degree? Will anyone know if I took my classes online or on ground?

Professional Studies degrees look the same as all other degrees conferred by Southwestern College. It will not indicate when or how you took classes.

Click the image to enlarge.

The actual size of a Southwestern College diploma is 8 1/2 × 11.

What is the difference between a semester and a session?

Below is a breakdown of what makes up an academic year, each semester, and then where sessions fall into that.
Southwestern College's Academic Year Chart

What social networking opportunities are available for me to connect with Southwestern College Professional Studies?

Currently we are on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Feel free to like us/follow us and stay up with the latest news!

How many learners take classes online at Southwestern College Professional Studies?

In 2011, we had just over 1,100 learners take online courses with us.

Can I get college credit for my work experience?

The knowledge, skills and experience you have gained throughout your career (e.g., attending workshops, seminars, classes, and through self-study) may be eligible for academic credit toward your bachelor’s degree through a Prior Learning Credit Portfolio process. Preparation of a portfolio requires learners to articulate how their prior learning activities equate to college-level learning. The average credit award for portfolios is 15 semester hours, with some portfolios generating more credit hours and some generating fewer credit hours. For more information, please contact your Academic Success Coach (or ask an Admissions Counselor when you apply to Southwestern).

How will Southwestern College Professional Studies’ affiliation with the United Methodist Church affect my experience in the classroom?

At Southwestern College, you can feel free to discuss and explore religious questions while you are taking classes with us. We offer courses that allow you to explore the beliefs of the United Methodist Church, other protestant denominations and the Christian faith. We also offer courses in additional world religions. Degrees and certificates in religious studies such as bachelor’s degrees in Pastoral Studies and Youth Ministry and master’s degrees in Specialized Ministries and Theological Studies are also part of Southwestern College Professional Studies program.