Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

What is an RBA?

What is an RBA? The RBA (Regents Bachelor of Arts) degree is an innovative baccalaureate designed for adult students. The basic principle underlying the degree is that credit is awarded for what students know regardless of how that knowledge was attained. The program differs from other bachelor degrees in that RBA students may earn college-equivalent credit for selected work and life experiences which can be equated to college courses.

Who should consider an RBA? The RBA student faces the realities of career demands, family obligations, and financial pressures. The RBA Program recognizes these specific difficulties and attempts to remove the obstacles that preclude non-traditional, adult students from attending college.

RBA students enjoy the freedom to explore the University system to pursue their interests and expand their horizons. A flexible schedule with evening and online courses helps RBA students continue to work full-time and be a major part of family life while still progressing towards a bachelor’s degree.

Why should I get my RBA degree at WVU? Your RBA degree will open doors. West Virginia University is an internationally recognized university with more than 170,000 alumni around the world.

More than 4,000 students have earned their bachelor’s degrees in the RBA Program since 1975.

You will have access to all of the resources of WV’s largest, land grant University, including:

  • Personalized advising
  • Financial aid and scholarships
  • More than 300 online classes offered by WVU Extended Learning
  • Travel study courses
  • College-equivalent credit for life experience and military service
  • A world-class library with easy online access
  • One-credit online orientation course for adult learners
  • The only portfolio development course offered in the state

Will the RBA Program prepare me for graduate or professional school? Yes. RBA graduates go on to medical school, law school, and a variety of graduate programs both within and outside of West Virginia. Students planning to seek graduate or professional school admission should select courses which meet the admission requirements of these programs.

In some professional programs at least 50 percent of the student’s undergraduate course work must be graded courses. Students interested in those types of programs should plan accordingly and not rely solely on college-equivalent or portfolio credit.

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Financial Aid

Are RBA students eligible for Financial Aid and University Scholarships? Yes. RBA students have the same privileges, rights, and responsibilities as other WVU students. The Office of Financial Aid can assist students with the financial aid process.

Are there special scholarships available for RBA students? The Osher Reentry Scholarship is open to all non-traditional students at WVU, including RBA students. See the RBA Director for application details.

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Degree Requirements

RBA students are required to complete a total of 120 hours and hold a 2.0 GPA to graduate.

What is a General Education Course (GEC)? The RBA Program requires students to take a minimum of 36 hours of GEC work. The GEC requirements are:

  • Six hours of communication skills. Preferably English 101 and 102. May substitute a university approved writing class or a speech preparation class.
  • Six hours of humanities credit in areas such as literature, foreign languages, history, humanities, philosophy, religious studies and approved courses in art, music, and theater
  • Six hours of social science credit in areas such as anthropology, communication studies, economics, geography, political science, psychology, social science, and sociology
  • Six hours of natural or physical science credits in areas such as astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, physics, and physical science
  • Three hours of approved mathematics, statistics, or computer science credit
  • Nine additional hours of electives from any of the bolded general education areas

What are upper division courses? The Regents BA degree requires students to take a minimum of 39 hours of upper division course work. Upper division courses are those offered at the junior and senior levels and are usually numbered as 300- or 400-level courses.

Upper division courses may be taken in any subject area or a combination of Areas of Emphasis based on the students interest.

What is college-equivalent credit (CEC)? The basic principle underlying the RBA degree is that credit is awarded for what students know regardless of how that knowledge was attained. The program differs from other bachelor degrees in that RBA students may earn college-equivalent credit by submitting portfolios for selected work and life experiences which can be equated to college courses.

Do I have to take a foreign language? No. The RBA curriculum is determined by State Guidelines and no foreign language is required by those guidelines.

Do I have to take regular, graded courses to meet RBA General Education (GEC) and upper division requirements? No. You may meet the GEC and upper division requirements by passing appropriate CLEP, Dantes, or AP exams with specified scores; earning college-equivalent credit, or earning credit by exam from WVU Departments.

Do I have to take the 24 hours of residency credit at WVU? No. State Guidelines require that three hours of course work be taken at WVU, the rest of the residency credit may be taken at any one or a combination of the public higher education institutions in West Virginia.

Can I meet the residency requirement with college-equivalent credit? No. Residency hours must be earned by taking regular, graded courses. Likewise, you cannot use CLEP or other tests or credit-by-exam to meet the residency requirement.

Does taking regular, graded courses for residency mean I have to take courses on campus? No. Regular courses come in a variety of delivery formats including online, satellite, TV, and e-mail courses.

The RBA Program currently offers over 200 online course options through WVU Extended Learning.

Can the same courses be used to meet the residency requirement as well as GEC or upper division requirements? Yes. Some courses might meet all three requirements at once, but they will only count once toward the 120 hours needed for graduation.

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How do I apply for admission to the RBA Program? You can apply online now or download an admission form and mail it to the RBA Office. Forms and any transcripts should be mailed to Admissions Office. Students need to indicate RBA degree or use our major code, 1490, to assure all information is forwarded to our office.

If I earned a GED recently, do I still have to wait four years? Students who have passed a high school equivalency examination are eligible for admission four years after their high school class graduated.

What if my GPA is below 2.00? Your GPA may be helped by the RBA Program policy that allows us to disregard all F’s earned more than four years prior to your initial admission to the program. Your GPA is recalculated with the F’s ignored; they will remain on your official transcript.

Alternatively you may petition the RBA Program Director for admission on probation. If your petition is accepted, the Director will require that you agree to a clear plan of action which makes it likely that a satisfactory GPA will be obtained within a specified time period.

What if I cannot take classes for one or two semesters, do I have to reapply to continue? At WVU the RBA Program is design for maximum flexibility, you remain active for three years from the time of your initial admission (even if you don’t take a course every semester), and you will remain active as long as you continue to take courses, submit portfolios, or transfer credits.

If you become inactive for three continuous years or longer, it will be necessary to reapply and you will be readmitted under the policies in effect at the time of readmission (which may include new requirements, higher portfolio fees, etc.).

How long do I have to complete my degree? There is no deadline for degree completion; one recent graduate completed her degree 73 years after she started earning college credits.

Are there any accommodations made for students with disabilities? Yes. WVU’s Office of Disability Services works with individual students to provide accommodation for those with physical, psychological, and learning disabilities. Contact the Office of Disability Services directly for complete information.

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Transfer Credit

Will my Associate Degree credits transfer to WVU? Yes. Although associate degree credits often will not transfer for students in traditional WVU majors, they will transfer for students in the RBA Program. Should you leave the RBA Program for a traditional WVU major, you would lose these credits as well as CEC’s received through your portfolio.

Is there a limit to the amount of credit hours I can transfer from other institutions? There is a limit of 72 hours of lower division credit from community and junior colleges which can count toward the 120 hours needed for graduation.

Can I transfer in “D” grades from other institutions? Yes.

Will all my transfer credits be used in determining my GPA? Only credits earned within the WV public higher education system will be counted to determine your GPA. From these institutions, both D’s and F’s transfer.

Are there credits from other institutions that will not transfer? Yes. Remedial courses do not transfer, nor do credits earned as credit-by-exam at other institutions. College-equivalent credit is not transferable, nor is most credits earned on the basis of articulation agreements between colleges and their local agencies and industries. Aside from these exceptions, almost all satisfactorily completed course work taken at regionally accredited higher education institutions is transferable.

Students may write portfolios to earn credit in areas where course work is not transferable.

Can I get credit for military service? Yes. WVU’s Military Science Department will give two credits per year of military service up to a maximum of eight credits; students are also awarded two credits in physical education.

Additional credit will be given for documented specialized military training which has been assessed by the American Council on Education. There is no fee for the posting of military credit.

The military science credit is not awarded if students already have Military Science on their transcripts.

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Areas of Emphasis

What is an Area of Emphasis (AOE)? AOEs allow RBA students to study a specific area of interest. They include areas like communication studies, business administration, English, sociology, psychology, etc.

There is no limit to the number of AOE’s that a student can take. A complete list of available AOEs and their course requirements is available online.

Can I use transfer credit toward an Area of Emphasis? Yes. If you have taken courses that transfer in as “equivalent to” courses required for the AOE, those courses may be counted. Courses that transfer in as non-equivalent will not count.

Can I ever substitute a different course for one specified by the department offering the AOE? Yes, if you receive the written permission of the department that offers the AOE. This is not guaranteed; the department may grant credit at its discretion.

Are new AOEs ever set up? Yes. Setting up AOEs is an on-going process which may be initiated by departments, the RBA Program Office, or students. Contact the RBA Director for more information.

Can I earn more than one AOE? Yes. There is no limit on the number of AOEs students may earn.

View the Available Areas of Emphasis Here

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Portfolios and Standardized Awards

What is a portfolio? A portfolio is a written document justifying and documenting the request for college-equivalent credit.

Portfolios have four components: 1) a request for credit for specific college courses; 2) a resume identifying your educational, professional, and other relevant activities; 3) a narrative demonstrating that you have “college-equivalent” knowledge and skills; and 4) documentation to support your claims of accomplishment.

Who reads the portfolios and determines whether credit is awarded? Portfolios are submitted to the RBA office and forwarded to the departments which offer the requested credits. Faculty members in those departments read the portfolio and determine the number of credits awarded.

Can I request college-equivalent credit from institutions other than WVU? Yes, but only in areas where WVU does not offer the program of study or where specialty courses are involved.

Credit requests that go outside WVU are particularly likely in the areas with specialized Associate Degrees – welding, business technology, legal assisting, electronics, etc. – since WVU does not offer such programs.

Can I get help in deciding what credits to request? Yes. The RBA director will work with you to find the most effective way to request credits. The director will also read drafts of your portfolios and provide feedback on ways your portfolio could be improved. The WVU RBA Office also offers a one-credit hour online course in RBA portfolio development during the fall and spring semesters.

Is there a limit on the amount of college-equivalent credits that can be earned? No. Most students earn an average of 30 hours of college-equivalent credit. Though rare, some students have earned over 100 hours of college-equivalent credit. Students must still meet the 24 hour residency requirement mentioned above.

How do the credits earned by writing portfolios appear on my transcript? They are designated as CEC credits. College-equivalent credit is not graded and does not impact the GPA.

Can you resubmit a portfolio if you don’t get all the credit you want? Yes, it is usually possible to resubmit a portfolio for additional credit, especially if faculty evaluators indicate what is needed for full credit. There is no portfolio fee required for re-submission. Re-submissions must be done within one year after the portfolio was initially returned.

Can I see a sample portfolio? Yes. Sample portfolios may be viewed in the RBA Office. They are also available on reserve at the Evansdale Library.

What happens to portfolios after they are assessed? The Master Portfolio, a collection of all individual portfolio submissions, is kept by the RBA Office for three years and then returned to the student or destroyed. The individual portfolios that were sent out for faculty review are returned to the student.

Students must arrange pick up of their portfolios; the Office does not mail them.

Should you submit portfolios as soon as you enter the RBA Program? Yes and no. If you are requesting large-credit standardized awards – such as X-ray technology – and don’t expect to write portfolios or request other credit awards, then you will probably want to bring in your credits early in order to get the advantage of a higher class rank. Students with higher class ranks select courses ahead of those with lower class ranks.

If you have very little college experience, you will probably want to wait to submit portfolios until you are more familiar with how the faculty conduct classes and assess academic work.

What is a Standardized Award? Standardized Awards are allotments of college-equivalent credit awarded for specific types of experience that have already been evaluated.

How do I find out about Standardized Awards? Standardized Awards change over time so it is always wise to check at the RBA Office to see if the award is still given and if new ones have been added. Standardized Awards require specific documentation; check with the RBA Office to determine what is required.

The RBA Program also recognizes standardized credit awards that are listed in the ACE (American Council on Education) Guide.

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