SNHU Offers First Nationally Available $10,000 Bachelor’s Degree

Southern New Hampshire University is working to change the current landscape of education by offering the first nationally available $10,000 bachelor’s degree. The fully accredited degree lets students gain competencies instead of credits as they work their way through the online courses.

SNHU created the Innovation Lab in 2011 to open up education to different groups of people who were not enrolled in higher education because of cost, flexibility, or convenience. The Innovation Lab then founded College For America, which has made the low-cost degree possible. “We were set up to open access to those people who couldn’t afford it and also to attack the student debt problem,” said Kris Clerkin, the Executive Director of College for America. “Something has got to be done.”

The college targets working adults who have a high school diploma or an associate’s degree. “There are a lot of people working in entry level and front line jobs who don’t have degrees but know that they need a degree to move ahead,” said Clerkin. “They’re stuck.”

The degree is available to employees of the college’s over 50 employer partners. “One big cost for all colleges, especially online, is marketing and recruiting,” said Clerkin. “Our approach is to work through employers. Employers help the college recruit and select students for the degree. They are actually bringing higher education into the workplace as a benefit.” Clerkin said for the most part the employers would be the ones paying the cost through their tuition assistance programs.

The two degrees that will be offered this fall are health care management and communications. Clerkin said after looking at labor market needs they chose to focus on health care for its growth and availability of jobs. The college decided to offer a communications degree because they found a broad applicability that would allow students to transfer the skills in a number of different fields.

As schools in Texas and Florida work to also offer the 10k B.A., College For America was able to do it first because of its experience with online and self-directed learning. The College For America already offers an online associate’s degree in general studies with a business concentration and next year the college will offer a certificate program in non-clinical healthcare.

To learn more about the online degree, visit

Michelle Harven

Michelle Harven

Michelle is a current graduate student at Emerson College and an intern at Boston's public radio station. She enjoys exploring the world of educational technology and writing about the ever-changing sector and its potential.