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Rowan University and Building Trades Open Door to Online Education


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One of the primary goals of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), the group representing hundreds of thousands of skilled workers from more than a dozen trades, is to boost apprenticeship and training nationwide. They invest handsomely in these efforts in myriad ways. One of their more recent, forward-thinking approaches has been to partner with Rowan University for the B.A. in Construction Management Online program. It targets those who are already working and have made advancements in their field. “This program is ideal for journeypersons and seasoned professionals in the construction industry,” the literature reads, “as well as apprentices who are looking to develop leadership skills and advance their careers.” Earning while learning has always been a benchmark of skilled trades preparation, and that is no different with the Rowan University B.A. It “offers students the opportunity to apply specialized union training, apprenticeship program knowledge and prior college course work to complete their degree within as little as two years.”

We had the chance to speak with Stephen Krone, the Director of Construction Management at the National Labor College, to get some insight into the partnership:

When did the program launch? Can you tell me a little bit about how it arose? Any labor leaders that helped make it a reality?

Tom Kriger, Provost of the National Labor College, contacted me in 2010 and I began writing courses in August. The courses names had already been chosen by a team of contractors and faculty at NLC. The classes began being taught in Feb 2011. The National Labor College closed in April 2014 because of financial difficulties school officials attribute in part to the construction cost of a conference center and partially because the campus was not as used with many courses including all CM classes online. The teach out was done at Empire State Until Dec 2015. By this time, Rowan decided it wanted the CM program and the courses began rework and the classes began in May 2016.

There are two NLC graduates who have gone on and got their masters and one is pursuing his PhD. One is teaching and one will begin within 6 months. There are also 5 professors who are adjuncts who formally taught at NLC.

How many people do you hope to graduate annually by, say, 2020?

Right now we are at 37 students including 24 in the program from summer and fall, and 13 who will start in the Spring 2017. From 2011 to Winter 2014, we went from 1 section per class to 5 or about 110 students. That is about the same time period.

What is the first thing a program graduate will do, professionally, when they complete your program?

Most of our students are already working since this is a degree completion program.

Are there any comparable programs in the U.S. or overseas? Anything analogous in other professions that would help people understand the program’s function?

Let me present this based on a class I am now changing to Rowan format and updating, CM 1306. The textbook is the same as that used at most CM programs. The software is Microsoft Project, which is one of two computer programs used at most CM programs. Most of the technical objectives of the course are the same used at most CM programs. However, the discussion questions and conversation would not include such conversations such as a lack of skilled workers has become a global problem that is impacting the construction industry, which is discussed one week. There is also the people in the class, with many from the Building Trades that keep the conversation focused on union life in the construction industry. The capstone course is also quite a bit different for those in the unions.

Costs for the tech-savvy program are $455 per credit hour ($400 for NABTU members). Find out more here:


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