Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology is one step closer to becoming an accredited degree-granting institution.
Offering a two-year associate degree program is part of the school’s mission to enhance its postsecondary education department, said Todd Taylor, director of adult and postsecondary education.
CPI is a trade school that provides alternative education to high school students in Centre County and provides adult, night and online classes open to the public. The school currently issues diplomas and certifications for students who complete any of its 20 career programs.
“We were successful in that market, but looking to expand,” Taylor said.
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Representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Education were on campus Wednesday for a site evaluation, Taylor said.
“It was a grinder,” Taylor said. “They looked at everything — looked at the school’s curriculum and procedures and did exit interviews, and we expect they will summarize and get back to us in a couple weeks with requests.”
CPI will review the formal evaluation and accommodate any outstanding requests, Taylor said.
The goal is to get approved by the state by the end of summer and open its associate degree program within six months, Taylor said.
“The site visit went really well,” Taylor said. “We’re in the late stages of the process, and while it’s not a done deal, I think we have the ability to move forward.”
The Education Department did not respond to a request for comment.
The idea to offer a degree program was sparked several years ago by the board of directors, Taylor said.
“We knew it was a long process, but needed to do that,” he said. “We have the opportunity to serve local school districts and the public, and want to further our mission and obtain the designation.”
CPI expects about 50 students to enroll in the associate degree program in the first year, pending approval from the state.
Taylor said that a few teachers would be hired, adding to the school’s staff of educators.
The first two degree programs would include advanced manufacturing and health care-based studies, Taylor said.
“It’s going to start off small, but we’ll always look to roll out new programs,” Taylor said. “This is a tremendous growth opportunity for us, even when we know we have to start small.”
The programs would take between 20 and 23 weeks to complete, Taylor said.
CPI serves about 1,200 students, 300 of whom are in career programs.
“We have a goal to align our secondary programs with postsecondary programs to provide that pathway to students at an affordable cost,” Taylor said.
Course and program costs have not been established.