California Coast University
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California Coast University (CCU) is a for-profit, private university, based in Santa Ana, California. It is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission. Degree programs are offered through CCU's distance education curriculum, through both online and correspondence studies, and traditional classroom attendance is not offered. Approximately 8,000 students are enrolled at any given time.
California Coast University was founded in 1973 as California Western University, with administration and library facilities located in downtown Santa Ana, California. The name was changed to California Coast University in 1981. In 2010, CCU moved to larger headquarters to accommodate its continued growth.
California Coast University presently offers undergraduate and graduate programs in business administration, management, marketing, psychology, criminal justice, human resource management, health care management, and education. Academics at California Coast University are housed in five schools: School of Administration and Management, School of Arts and Sciences, School of Behavioral Science, School of Criminal Justice and School of Education.
CCU received national accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) on January 8, 2005. The DEAC is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) in Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). As of January 2010, DEAC accreditation authorizes CCU to award degrees up to and including the doctoral level. Since the DEAC has been approved by USDE to accredit professional doctorates, including the D.B.A. and Ed.D, CCU has been granted approval to offer several Ed.D doctorate programs.
CCU has been approved by the State of California since 1974. Such approval is currently granted by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education a branch of the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
Before DEAC accreditation in 2005, among other non-nationally accredited schools at that time, CCU (which was accredited by the State of California) was investigated by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) as part of a study for subsidies given to federal employees for coursework and degrees from non-nationally accredited schools. CCU completely passed the GAO review, and CCU completed its national accreditation soon thereafter. CCU graduates with a degree earned during the school's pre-DEAC accreditation period (but approved by the State of California Bureau of Postsecondary Education) had occasionally run into difficulty when trying to use their pre-DEAC accredited degrees.
Nevertheless, from early years before DEAC accreditation, California Coast University had full state approval of all academic programs from the State of California which made the degrees legal and academically legitimate nearly everywhere in the world. The original approval system, which established minimum standards for earning credits and minimum time required for completing a degree, was controlled by California State Department Of Education - Private Postsecondary Education Division which division became a branch of the California Department of Consumer Affairs in 2007. Applicable California laws were in revision several times which increased the importance of gaining DEAC accreditation for California Coast University.
State approval was most important to foreign students and graduates who did business overseas where state approval is the norm. CCU graduates in USA were able to defend their legitimacy in landmark court cases most notably in Texas. Texas accepted the legality of CCU degrees. Many states such as Oregon approved a small number academic programs (such as CCU’s) that were not nationally accredited as a way to avoid creating monopolies of the accrediting agencies, regulating them instead as public utilities. CCU succeeded where other nontraditional institutions failed, largely because CCU was one of the first nontraditional universities to be created under the California law, and CCU offered unique programs that were not available elsewhere. Also from its early years CCU received favorable reviews from leaders in nontraditional education.
Employers in the business community have been generally supportive of CCU graduates from the beginning as a way to moderate the rapidly rising cost of college education. Many thousands of mid career adults were able to continue their educations while continuing to live and work in remote locations. The original intent of the Private Postsecondary Education Division was to make the approved degrees comparable to otherwise accredited degrees. A substantial difference between academic acceptance and professional acceptance has been noted as a divergence in education between academic degrees oriented toward research and professional degrees oriented toward practice.
Innovations In education
Since the early 1970s, California Coast University offered off-campus self-paced degree programs to mid-career adults. Students were accepted who had verifiable years of full-time employment in the major field or a closely related field. In the 1980s, seven years of verifiable full time on the job experience were required before entering the doctoral programs. Five years of experience were required to enter the master's degree (MS) programs, and three years of experience were required to enter the baccalaureate (BS) programs. Academic approval by California required not less than nine months or one academic year to complete any degree program. A variety of methods was used to earn credits in structured programs, supplemented by practice lessons and final exams to complete the degree requirements. BS candidates were required to complete a research project. MS candidates were required to complete a thesis. Doctoral candidates were required to complete a dissertation and defend it in a personal appearance before peers, proctors, or the Graduate Committee.
Academic programs at CCU were designed for enhanced job performance in which typical students received support from employers and were granted access to libraries and research facilities comparable to traditional universities. Faculty members were drawn from a combination of qualified educators in traditional universities and recognized business leaders in established corporations.
California Coast University provided distance learning for education of engineering management oriented to technical and business management practice for more than twenty years offering degree programs at the BS, MS, and Ph.D. levels approved by California State Department Of Education. CCU stopped offering the engineering part of the program for new students during a change of staff and reorienting of the CCU programs in preparations for accrediting by DETC (DEAC). The long-time dean of Engineering Management at CCU, Peter L. Shanta,(1921 - 2004) an industrial leader in composite materials and holder of several patents, died at about the same time that competition increased rapidly from traditional universities for distance education of engineering management degree programs. Engineering students already in the CCU programs were allowed to complete the degrees in a teach-out agreement with DETC, causing CCU to continue staffing its Engineering Management department after accreditation. Teach-out agreements are normal and usually required by laws and other rules for accrediting agencies. CCU gradually shifted its resources to other programs to meet students needs.
The Education Department was expanded at CCU to offer a more complete distance education program, and new programs were added for Health Care Administration and Criminal Justice. Business studies were subdivided into similar but distinct degree programs for administration, marketing, and management to meet the needs of a diverse student body.
California Coast University was one of the first educational institutions to offer high-level degrees specifically designed to improve job performance and direct a substantial part of the program toward profit making businesses. Expansion of the Education Department is a key factor in the continuing success of California Coast University. Criticisms arise occasionally about CCU programs or policies, but not more than occur for other universities.
Prospective students with a career plan or educational path already identified are advised by CCU to check with prospective employers, regulators, or colleges, to make sure the CCU degrees and credits will be accepted for the intended purpose.
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