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Phi Theta Kappa Launches International Honors Certificates Program

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society is partnering with four-year universities to offer community college honors students high-quality, online international curricula that will help develop a global mindset and better prepare students to work in and serve a growing global economy.

“We know that the development of global awareness and global competencies in the workforce is more important to collaboration and other soft skills that employers are increasingly expecting; and yet in the 2011-12 school year, less than one-tenth of one percent of community college students studied abroad,” said Monika Byrd, Phi Theta Kappa’s Dean of Leadership Development and Service Learning. “This isn’t due to a lack of desire or motivation; instead, financial barriers as well as a lack of support for developing a study abroad plan often stand in students’ ways.”

The International Honors Certificates (IHC) program begins this fall with a soft launch in a limited number of two-year colleges. Certificates will be available for Phi Theta Kappa members and other eligible students as determined by the participating institutions.

"The IHC program is designed to provide two-year college students with the global perspectives and experiences we know they need to be successful in a global economy," said Phi Theta Kappa's Interim Executive Director Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner. "Many two-year institutions are able to provide these types of experiences, but most are not. For those who do, we feel as though the IHC program will serve to further enrich existing global education programs at the two-year college. 

"For those who do not, we feel as though the IHC program will provide two-year college students with a deep international educational experience that is both accessible and affordable. We are proud to offer this benefit and hope that other community colleges will join us as we continue to impact student success."

IHC courses are entirely online and may be completed in four to six weeks. Four IHC courses will be offered through four universities:  

  • Global Entrepreneurship — UCLA
  • Organizational Leadership — the University of Johannesburg
  • International Business Human Resources — the University of South Carolina
  • Contemporary Chinese Culture — Beijing Culture and Language University

Students register through their two-year school for credit and pay normal community college tuition for a three-credit-hour course. Phi Theta Kappa has negotiated a significantly reduced rate — just $500 per student per course — and only one course is required to earn a certificate. The typical cost for this type of university course is $1,500 per student per course.

“We are grateful that these universities recognize the value in offering these courses and opportunities to community college students, and it is our hope that we can add even more courses at more four-year colleges in the future,” Byrd said.

Each of the IHC online course options will also include a capstone International Leadership in Action & Discovery (ILIAD) unit designed by Phi Theta Kappa to guide community college honors students in the creation of a personal, international, experiential learning plan; the development of leadership skills required to successfully implement and complete the plan; and the preparation for scholarship applications to fund international experiences, such as the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.

Students enrolled in IHC courses are also enrolled in the ILIAD as a leadership activity and as preparation for study abroad opportunities. They will explore the opportunities for experiential international education and analyze them to identify an opportunity that is best aligned to personal and career goals.

Five lessons will be covered in the ILIAD unit:

  • Exploring Possibilities — Students develop awareness about international experiential educational experiences and the advantages of acquiring and rowing global competencies for personal growth and career advancement; they identify connections between their academic goals, career aspirations and global issues.
  • Support and Resources — Students assemble a support team and learn the value of networking and communication to produce a plan of international study.
  • Personalizing a Plan — Students personalize an approach to international study that is meaningful and authentic to their interests, strengths and goals.
  • Finalizing the Plan — Students develop the criteria and complete an analysis to select a program and a scholarship opportunity (or other pathway) to pursue and develop a plan that includes a clear timeline and activities.
  • Taking Action — Students learn about what makes applications competitive and use rubrics, resources and their support network to maximize their chances of acceptance in the program and selection for scholarships to study abroad.

Community colleges interested in partnering with Phi Theta Kappa and the International Honors Certificates program should contact Monika Byrd. Learn more here.



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