A program announced today will give Polk State College students interested in earning bachelor’s degrees in psychology or health sciences a “seamless” path to entering the University of South Florida. 

Students participating in the program called FUSE will need to maintain a 2.0 average, according to an FAQ document. The program will be open to students entering Polk State for the first time next fall.

Polk State is one of seven institutions involved in the program. Students at Hillsborough Community College and St. Petersburg College are able to participate in a pilot program this year.

Students at those schools have a wider range of “transfer graduation paths” to pursue. For example, the program is open to HCC students interested in 11 bachelors degrees spanning arts, biomedicine, criminology, business and education.

Here’s a news release on the FUSE program issued today by Polk State College:

Polk State College students will be guaranteed admission to the University of South Florida after the signing of an agreement described as “groundbreaking” on Friday.

“The FUSE program guarantees our students a pathway to select programs at USF,” said Kenneth Ross, Polk State vice president for academic affairs, who represented the College at the signing event at USF Tampa.

“Before, Polk State students, in applying to USF, were competing with everyone else. Now, provided they meet certain criteria, they’re in.”

FUSE creates seamless academic pathways for students studying at seven Florida College System institutions, including Polk State. FUSE students who complete an associate’s degree at their FCS institution, and who meet grade-point average and other program-specific requirements, will be guaranteed admission to USF.

“This is a groundbreaking partnership that is going to make a difference, a meaningful difference, in the lives of students and their families,” said USF System President Judy Genshaft during a videotaped address to FUSE signing attendees.

“Together, these great institutions are creating a seamless path to degrees for students all across our region. By uniting, we are providing world-class learning opportunities that will prepare students to be globally competitive in their careers.”

Genshaft added that FUSE will both ensure access to university-level study and help to control the cost of higher education for program participants.

Polk State will begin enrolling students in FUSE in the fall. Students will be able to follow paths that will ultimately lead to three degree programs at USF, including the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with a concentration in Biological Health Sciences, and the Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences.

Ross said the baccalaureate degrees in psychology and health sciences are popular among Polk State transfer students.

FUSE students will receive advising from both Polk State and USF to ensure they are completing coursework that will satisfy the requirements for their associate degree as well as admission requirements for their selected baccalaureate program at USF.

In addition, FUSE students will also be able to participate in various USF activities and events.

Speaking at the signing event, USF Provost and Executive Vice President Ralph Wilcox said he foresees a future in which FUSE students, even semesters before they take their first USF class, will feel a part of USF.

“We envision the day, and it won’t be long, that our students, even as they’re studying at St. Petersburg College or Hillsborough Community College, or any of the other partner institutions, will have full access to the amenities on the USF campus — the libraries, the lecture series, athletic events. Why? Because you’re our students, you’re our students collectively, and we want you to feel a part not just of your initial home but of your future home here at the University of South Florida,” he said.

In addition to Polk, Hillsborough, and St. Petersburg, FCS institutions that have signed on to FUSE include College of Central Florida, Pasco-Hernando State College, South Florida State College, and State College of Florida.

Students interested in participating in FUSE should contact Polk State’s advising offices for more information.  Visit polk.edu/admission-aid.

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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