The Upside-Down Degree

Upside-Down Program (BA)

The usual route to a BA degree explores general liberal arts coursework in the first two years of college study and “major” specialization in the last two years.  In the Upside-Down Program, graduates of certain technical or vocational programs reverse this process; completing much of their major in technical academic work at an accredited Washington state 2-year program, then transferring to Fairhaven College to complete their liberal arts coursework.  Students complete Fairhaven College’s Core curriculum and enhance the area of their technical degree to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Who is eligible for the Fairhaven College Upside-Down Program?

Graduates of certain Washington State Community and Technical Colleges who hold the A.T.A. (Associate in Technical Arts), A.A.S. (Associate in Arts & Sciences), or some other approved technical degree who do NOT bring significant university or college coursework which would otherwise be transferable to Western.

Which areas of study are eligible for the Fairhaven College Upside-Down Program?

In considering a student for admission to the Fairhaven Upside-Down Program, we are looking for students who bring technical academic work in areas of study which the college can academically support.  Students admitted to this program will be expected to enhance the areas of their technical degree with appropriate upper-division coursework from Fairhaven College and, potentially, from other departments of Western Washington University.  Students have completed Upside-Down Degrees with technical degrees in Human Services, Early Childhood Education, Environmental Conservation, Business Administration, Paralegal Studies, and Graphic Design, among others.  We consider applications on a case-by-case basis. We do not have specific articulation agreements in place.

Why Consider the Fairhaven College Upside-Down Program?

Interdisciplinary alternative approach to learning: First and foremost, students should be interested in participating in an interdisciplinary, innovative approach to learning connected to real-life issues in the context of social justice and diversity.  Students admitted to the Fairhaven College Upside-Down Program are required to complete the Fairhaven Core Curriculum, our set of interdisciplinary liberal arts seminars.  Prospective students are encouraged to review information about Fairhaven College’s core courses, mission and approach to teaching as they explore whether our college is a good fit for their needs.

Transfer coursework: Graduates of two-year technical degree programs have limited options for the transfer of coursework to four-year university Bachelor of Arts Degree Programs.  Fairhaven College’s Upside-Down Program is one of the few, and one of the most long-standing, degree completion programs for students in public universities in Washington State. 

Career enhancement: Many students consider the Fairhaven Upside-Down Program as part of a re-careering path or having reached a career plateau requiring additional education to proceed on a chosen career direction.  Some students are seeking to enhance and expand on the focused technical expertise of their two-year degree. 

How to Declare (Admission & Declaration Process):

Admission to the Upside-Down Program is selective.  Interested applicants are encouraged to make contact with the Fairhaven College Admissions Coordinator early in their explorations of the program.  The College Admissions Coordinator can provide advising about whether a specific technical degree program would be eligible for Fairhaven’s Upside-Down Program.  Applicants to the Upside-Down Program complete the Fairhaven College and Western application process by quarterly deadlines, indicating their interest in applying specifically for admission to the Fairhaven College Upside-Down Program.   

Degree Planning for Fairhaven College Upside-Down Program students:

Admission & Declaration: Upon enrollment, students admitted to the Upside-Down Program will complete a Western “Declaration of Major” card and submit it to the Fairhaven College Office.

Advising & Degree Planning: All Fairhaven College students are assigned a faculty advisor in their first Fairhaven Core class, FAIR 101a.  Students work closely with the Fairhaven College Upside-Down Program Advisor at Fairhaven College to choose coursework appropriate to complete their degree requirements and to create an individualized plan of study for coursework to enhance the content areas of their technical degree. 

Fairhaven College Upside-Down Program Graduation requirements:

For detailed information on the graduation requirements including the Fairhaven Core Curriculum please see the University Catalog.

Transfer credits for students admitted to the Fairhaven Upside-Down Program:

Students admitted to the Fairhaven Upside-Down Program have the opportunity to transfer 90 credits from a technical two-year degree to Western to contribute ONLY to the lower division coursework for the Upside-Down Program as their major.  If admitted to this program the Western Admissions Office will require official transcripts showing the award of their technical degree AND the student’s signed acknowledgement of the terms of this agreement before awarding the transfer coursework.  If a student enrolled in the Upside-Down Program chooses to transfer out of this program, the student’s transferable coursework will be affected, as noted in the Upside-Down Agreement on file in the Western Admissions Office.