Rob Denson (left) and Mark Nook (right) announced a new partnership for a streamlined pathway to a four-year degree.

The University of Northern Iowa and Des Moines Area Community College today announced “UNI at DMACC,” a new partnership that will provide DMACC students with a streamlined pathway to a four-year degree that they can complete without relocating from Des Moines.

The new 2 + 2 program is designed for students to complete their first two years at DMACC, with the remaining two years completed through UNI on the DMACC Urban Campus. Students graduating from the program will earn a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree. Designed to make degree completion easier for DMACC students by eliminating the obstacles of relocation, the program will prepare more students for careers that require a four-year degree, the institutions said in a joint press release.  

Developed by DMACC President Rob Denson and UNI President Mark Nook, the partnership is the result of more than a year of conversations centering around how to make a bachelor’s degree more convenient for the 5,000 students enrolled at the DMACC Urban Campus. The program will begin next fall, pending approval by the Iowa Board of Regents.

The new partnership is a recognition that many of DMACC’s Urban Campus students are unable to relocate to leave their jobs, families and communities to complete a four-year degree. Fifty-two percent of DMACC Urban Campus’ population are students of color, with an average age of 28.

Courses for the Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree will initially be offered in an online format with staff present to support students in all aspects of the program. The potential exists to expand to additional offerings between the two schools.  

“The Liberal Studies degree at DMACC’s Urban Campus is a demonstration of our commitment to finding new ways of bringing a four-year degree to students across the state of Iowa, no matter their location,” UNI’s Nook said. "This degree has large employability and opens many doors for graduates. We are grateful for our long partnership with DMACC and are excited to provide an accessible education to Des Moines-based students through this innovative program.”

It’s not the first partnership between the schools. UNI has had a partnership in teacher education with DMACC on the college’s Carroll campus for more than 20 years, and also offers the 2+2 program in teacher education to DMACC Boone and Ankeny students. More than 300 students have graduated from these 2+2 programs since 1995.