A Hybrid Accelerated Program (HAP) model is an innovative approach to higher education that combines elements of traditional on-campus learning and online education to create an efficient and flexible academic experience. This model also aims to provide students with an expedited path to completing their degree programs while maintaining academic rigor and quality.

In this article, we'll first review what makes this model attractive to students. Then, we'll dive into what to consider when designing a HAP. Finally, we'll explore the benefits of working with a partner to implement this model.

Why Students Value Hybrid Accelerated Programs

Students value HAP for its fusion of online convenience and in-person engagement, enabling them to efficiently earn their degrees while maintaining a strong educational experience. The combination of interactive online modules and face-to-face sessions cultivates a comprehensive learning environment, offering the best of both virtual and real-world education.

Blended Learning

In a HAP model, blended learning is typically delivered through in-person classroom sessions and online learning activities. The exact delivery method can vary based on the educational institution, subject matter, and the goals of the learning experience.

For example, popular models include the "flipped classroom," where students engage with online content before attending in-person discussions and activities, or the "station rotation" model, where students rotate between online and offline learning stations.

Evidence In Motion’s (EIM) hybrid and accelerated education model, adopted by several higher education institutions across the country, is taught primarily online and includes hands-on lab immersion experiences on campus.

Condensed Timeline

One of the defining features of a HAP is the shortened duration of the degree. Traditional undergraduate degrees typically take four years to complete, but in this model, the timeframe is three years or even less.

Similarly, master's programs can be completed in a year, instead of the usual two-year timeframe, while a three-year doctorate program can be completed in two.

EIM has pioneered excellence in accelerated, hybrid graduate education, working with partners such as Augustana University, Bowling Green State University, Baylor University, Hanover College, and more to advance condensed timelines that move graduates into the job market sooner.

Technology Integration

Hybrid learning helps students prepare for a hybrid world characterized by a blend of physical and virtual interactions, rapidly evolving technology, and the need for adaptable skills.

Hybrid learning requires students to navigate both online and in-person environments, fostering adaptability and comfort with various modes of interaction. This prepares them to seamlessly transition between physical and virtual settings, a crucial skill in today's hybrid workplaces.

Additionally, online components encourage self-directed learning, empowering students to take ownership of their education. This self-discipline prepares them for self-guided work scenarios and continuous skill development.

Choice and Flexibility

HAP adoption in higher education significantly broadens the scope of university choices available to students, reducing the geographical mandates that accompany traditional on-campus programs.

With this model, students are no longer compelled to relocate to a specific city or region to attend their desired university. However, it's important to note that HAPs may require students to temporarily relocate to participate in on-campus curriculum or labs.

This newfound flexibility empowers students to consider universities that excel in their chosen field of study, align with their academic goals, and offer the specific resources and faculty expertise they require – all without uprooting their lives or compromising their commitments.

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How to Build a Hybrid Accelerated Program

Building a high-value HAP requires expertise in several areas, including accreditation and program management, clinical site procurement and placement, marketing and student recruitment, admissions and student engagement, and faculty recruitment and development.

When a university seeks to develop a new HAP, it’s important to understand three key phases of the process: needs assessment, curriculum design, and program management.

Needs Assessment

The needs assessment phase begins by defining the purpose and objectives of the proposed program. University leaders and relevant stakeholders collaborate to outline the intended outcomes and the knowledge, skills, and competencies graduates should possess. Simultaneously, they consider the target audience, such as prospective students' backgrounds, experience levels, and career aspirations.

Market research follows, involving an analysis of industry trends and employment projections. Surveys, focus groups, and interviews may be conducted to gather insights directly from potential students, current professionals, and industry experts. Understanding the job market's demands helps tailor the program to meet the evolving needs of employers and equip graduates with high-demand skills.

Additionally, stakeholders should review and understand the requirements of federal and state authorities and accreditation institutions. Institutions must objectively assess the desired program's requirements and identify potential roadblocks.

Curriculum Design

Following a thorough needs assessment, the program design phase is where the vision for the new HAP takes shape. This phase involves translating the identified needs, objectives, and insights into a structured and coherent curriculum that aligns with the university's goals and resources.

The development of a HAP introduces a unique set of considerations during the program design phase, reflecting the dual emphasis on efficiency and educational quality. In this innovative model, where the fusion of online and in-person learning propels students toward rapid degree completion, curriculum designers must meticulously tailor their approach to align with the intensified learning timeline.

Additionally, accreditation considerations should begin early in the program design phase. Institutions must align their program's objectives, curriculum, faculty qualifications, and resources with the standards set by accrediting bodies. Regular communication with accrediting agencies can help ensure the program design meets the necessary criteria and prepares for a smoother accreditation process.

Program Management

The program management phase follows program design in a hybrid accelerated program's lifecycle, encompassing the operational aspects of running the program effectively and ensuring its ongoing success. This phase involves executing recruitment and admissions, implementing the designed curriculum, coordinating faculty and staff efforts, facilitating student engagement, and maintaining the program's quality and coherence.

A critical component of program management is faculty recruitment and coordination. Program directors work closely with faculty members to ensure the seamless delivery of courses, both in-person and online. They facilitate communication, assist with curriculum implementation, and provide support to address any challenges that may arise during the accelerated pace.

Student recruitment and admissions are another essential component in the program management phase. Program directors and admissions leaders orchestrate activities to onboard qualified students from diverse backgrounds and deliver high-quality educational experiences.

Working with a Partner

When considering a new hybrid accelerated program, universities stand to gain substantial benefits by partnering with an external learning solutions company, such as EIM. These companies bring a wealth of specialized knowledge, experience, and a fresh perspective that can prove invaluable in crafting a successful HAP.

Program-Market Fit

Working with a learning solutions company can be instrumental in ensuring program-market fit for several compelling reasons. Specialized entities such as EIM possess a unique blend of insights into educational trends, technological advancements, and industry demands, enabling them to align program offerings with the needs and expectations of students and the job market.

By staying abreast of technological advancements and online learning best practices, learning solutions companies ensure that the program's delivery methods match the preferences of modern learners. This, in turn, enhances student engagement and satisfaction.

Furthermore, learning solutions companies often collaborate with industry professionals and advisory boards to validate program content and structure. This external input ensures that program outcomes closely align with industry expectations, boosting graduates' employability and overall success.

Speed to Market

An expert partner plays a pivotal role in expediting the launch of new programs compared to relying solely on internal processes. Firstly, these professionals bring an outsider's perspective, which allows them to objectively assess the project's requirements and identify potential roadblocks. Their experience across diverse institutions equips them with a broad understanding of best practices, enabling them to streamline processes and navigate challenges with precision.

Secondly, external partners possess specialized expertise that can significantly accelerate program development. They are well-versed in current industry trends, emerging technologies, and educational innovations, allowing them to make informed decisions swiftly. This expertise extends to regulatory requirements and accreditation standards, ensuring that program design meets the necessary criteria without unnecessary delays.

Lastly, external partners can dedicate their full attention to the program's development, unburdened by internal administrative tasks and competing responsibilities. This focus leads to efficient project management, faster decision-making, and quicker execution.

Student Experience

Collaborating with a learning solutions company to design and manage graduate degree programs significantly enhances student experience. These experts bring specialized knowledge in digital learning, technology integration, and online pedagogy, ensuring the program's online components are engaging, effective, and user-friendly.

An external partner plays a critical role in optimizing the virtual classroom environment, as well as on-campus experiences. They work closely with faculty to develop interactive content, multimedia resources, and engaging activities that cater to various learning styles. Additionally, they oversee the integration of user-friendly learning management systems and technologies, making navigation and access to materials effortless for students.

Next Steps

In the dynamic landscape of education and work, hybrid accelerated programs emerge as a valuable response to the demands of today's world. Seamlessly blending the flexibility of online learning with the potency of in-person interactions, these programs equip students with the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly evolving professional sphere.

This unique blend of agility and excellence positions HAPs as catalysts for success in a world that values adaptability and innovation. They empower students to engage with their studies while accommodating their commitments, thus cultivating graduates who are not only well-prepared academically but also attuned to the demands of a diverse, hybridized, and ever-changing global landscape.

If you're considering adopting an innovative program model in Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physician Assistant, or Speech-Language Pathology, we encourage you to contact us for a conversation!