Bridgewater College has been recognized for its commitment to engaged learning and focus on student success by being named to Colleges of Distinction’s 2021-22 list. Colleges of Distinction, which serves as a resource for college-bound students, highlights higher education institutions that value student-centered education and foster dynamic learning communities.
Colleges of Distinction’s methodology assesses first-year student experience and retention efforts, along with general education programs, career development and student satisfaction. Each school must also adhere to four distinctions: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant community and successful outcomes. These principles are informed by high-impact practices that enable students to have fulfilling, individualized college experiences. At Bridgewater College, some of those engaging opportunities include interdisciplinary programs, undergraduate research, collaborative learning, study abroad programs, internships and community-based learning.
In addition to being honored as a College of Distinction, Bridgewater College received special recognition for its business and education programs. The additional accolades honor an approach to teaching that goes beyond course material to include practical- and soft-skills development. Bridgewater College blends a liberal arts education with program-specific training and abundant opportunities for real-world application. BC students graduate and enter the workforce with solid, well-developed critical-thinking skills as well as the ability to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing society.
The College’s teacher education program seeks to prepare competent, caring and highly qualified teachers through interactive coursework and scaffolded field experiences. Teacher candidates are equipped to demonstrate culturally responsive teaching and design experiences that foster safe, inclusive and engaging learning environments. All teacher candidates spend more than 150 hours in P-12 classrooms prior to their semester of student teaching. Student-teaching placements are a semester-long final field experience involving instructional planning, observation and teaching.
In spring 2021, the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)—the national accreditor for teacher education programs—granted the teacher education program at Bridgewater College accreditation at the initial licensure level. This accreditation is provided at the baccalaureate or post-baccalaureate levels leading to initial licensure, certification or endorsement that are designed to develop P-12 teachers. Bridgewater College offers 16 initial licensures at the undergraduate level through three different programs: elementary teacher education (P-6), secondary teacher education (6-12) and all grades teacher education (P-12).
“Receiving the maximum length of accreditation and getting no recommendations from CAEP for improvement of our program is a testament to the hard-working faculty who educate our students,” said Dr. Barbara Long, dean of the School of Professional Studies. “Combining the CAEP accreditation with alumni success, such as Teacher of the Year awards and other impressive state, regional and national recognitions, validates the strength of our curriculum, field experiences and the very professors who prepare our graduates.”
The College’s economics and business administration department offers majors and minors in both business administration and economics, a concentration in administration management and emphases in accounting, finance, international commerce, marketing and organization management, which expand a student’s field of expertise. At Bridgewater, business administration and economics students apply knowledge learned in the classroom in case analyses, team projects and presentations, and experiential learning opportunities such as internships. Students who study within this department gain the knowledge and skills to become successful and ethical leaders in today’s business world.
Business study at Bridgewater also extends to the graduate level as the College launched its master of science in human resource management (MSHRM) program in summer 2020. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the human resources field is one of the fastest growing employment fields.
The program, which graduated its first cohort of students in May 2021, prepares students to be innovative strategic partners in the area of human resources in an increasingly diverse and global workplace. MSHRM students explore organizational excellence, international issues, legal and regulatory factors, analytics and more. The program’s capstone course provides students the opportunity to utilize their newly developed skills through a consulting project in the local community. If taken full-time, the 30-credit-hour program may be completed in one year.
Bridgewater’s program is fully aligned with the 2005 SHRM Human Resource Curriculum Guidelines, and BC’s MSHRM graduates are able to apply for the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) exam. In reviewing national salary data, SHRM reports that SHRM-CP credential holders have a salary that is more than 20% higher than that of employed HR professionals without that designation.
“Typically, in order to sit for the SHRM certification exam an individual must actually be working in an HR role and must have worked a minimum of one year in the HR role,” said Dr. Roslyn Vargas, director of Bridgewater College’s MSHRM program. “This gives our students a career advantage as they enter the job market as an HR professional with a graduate degree and their SHRM certification credentials.”
“From the onset, Dr. Vargas was singularly focused on aligning our courses with those required for credentialing,” Long said. “Our MSHRM students are learning from professors who have been HR professionals in the workplace and can make the classroom come alive with real-world examples of HR cases. Giving our students an ability to apply their knowledge and skills with real businesses before graduation is critical to preparing them for their future careers.”
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