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Promising Fall Forecast

Alberta's Newest Polytechnic Adds Two Fresh Degrees in 2023


Northwestern Polytechnic (NWP) is preparing learners for cool career paths with two new four-year degrees that can be completed in their entirety without leaving the region.


Dr. Andrew Dunlop, Dean of Applied Science and Technology & Dr. Carly McLeod, Dean of Business


The institution’s Bachelor of Computing Science and Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) undergraduate programs are now accepting applications for a fall 2023 start date at NWP’s Grande Prairie campus.


“Our learning community has continued to advocate for the region and gain traction in the degree-granting space,” said Dr. Vanessa Sheane, Provost and Vice-President Academic. “This has been a big year and we are delighted to be welcoming our first cohort of NWP

undergraduate degree students this September.” 


In March of 2022, NWP (formally Grande Prairie Regional College) officially became Alberta’s newest polytechnic. This designation made way for distinctive university-level degree programming with a hands-on approach.


These local additions will complement the existing collaborative degree and university transfer programs that have allowed students to start their academic journey locally before transferring to another Alberta-based post-secondary.


Bachelor of Computing Science

NWP’s Bachelor of Computing Science program is the first of its kind in Alberta.


“Offering this degree is important to the province as it’s a rapidly expanding area of demand within Alberta,” said Dr. Andrew Dunlop, Dean of Applied Science and Technology. “This is truly a unique opportunity for the North. Our hope is to attract and retain students who will ultimately stay and become part of the workforce here.”


The Bachelor of Computing Science degree incorporates areas such as mobile applications, game development, robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, large data analysis, computer graphics and more.


“This degree will give students a solid foundation for science, the required base skills, and the necessary math knowledge to succeed,” said Dr. Dunlop. “We want them to get a thorough understanding of different areas of computing and allow them to pick a path that best suits their interests.”


Students can expect to work in teams alongside instructors in newly renovated labs. Faculty members will engage with small student groups in project-based learning that mimics actual industry settings.


“Students will have a lot of individualized options where instructors will assist them by creating a program specialized to their future career paths,” said Dr. Dunlop.


Connecting to the regional computing science industry while in the program is crucial. With this in mind, NWP has placed an emphasis on internships, summer employments and projects that have real world applications such as collaborations with local instrumentation companies.


“Our goal is to show students what to expect in their future careers, the moment they walk into class. They’ll have many opportunities to complete projects alongside companies and engage in valuable networking before they graduate,” said Dr. Dunlop.


Regional success is a priority for NWP. It is anticipated that offering this degree will have a positive ripple in local and surrounding communities. There is a large demand across industry sectors for skilled graduates who want to live, work and prosper in the North.


“It’s easier and better long term to grow and develop our own talent,” said Dr. Dunlop. “If we can create more opportunities to increase the local talent base, we can drive economic development. We want everyone to feel at home here, so they can thrive and succeed in our area.”


Bachelor of Business Administration

Tailored specifically to the region, NWP’s Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) also promises to be a catalyst for economic growth.


BBA program participants will benefit from first-hand experience and customized content detailing the intricacies of owning, operating and working in a Northern Alberta business.


“We aim to connect students with local industry throughout all four years of their degree, no matter what field of business they are in,” said Dr. Carly McLeod, Dean of Business. “Students will have a built-in network by the time they graduate, which is essential in rural settings.”


Designed to give students the foundational knowledge for a career in business, the BBA degree program covers important entrepreneurial fields such as marketing, economics, human resources, accounting finance and management information systems.

Students will also have the flexibility to hone their focus with additional courses that help advance individual interests or career paths.


The BBA program is the first in the province to move away from majors, which means students can receive an individualized degree that will make them career-ready when they graduate.


“This degree is exciting because it is tailored to every student,” said Dr. McLeod. “We wanted to create a business degree that everybody can benefit from.”


The BBA also provides multiple entrance routes for skilled tradespeople or those looking to return to post-secondary education.

“We have a journeyperson entrance route that will allow advanced standing and acknowledge the education the student has already completed. This was an absolute priority because we wanted to provide for the people in the trades industry,” said Dr. McLeod.


Students can expect a level of flexibility in delivery during their first and second year as classes will be available both in person and online. NWP is known for its close-knit community and collaborative learning environments that allow students to make vital connections.


With built-in adaptability, the BBA program will navigate workforce demands and economic fluctuations and successfully transition graduates from their classrooms to chosen careers.

“By moving away from majors, we can be much more responsive to the local economy and industry trends,” said Dr. McLeod. “If we see a gap, we have the flexibility to add different courses and make sure our programming is meeting industry demand.”


The addition of these two new degrees is a historic achievement for NWP. Not only has it opened doors for students to pursue many more career paths and carry out their dreams locally, but it also is the perfect foundation for more degrees to come.


For more information about NWP’s undergraduate programming visit: NWP.me/NewDegrees

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