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Adult-Learner Program Marks 40th Anniversary

The Johnson State College External Degree Program (EDP), through which about 3,700 non-traditional-age students from Vermont have earned bachelor’s degrees, marks its 40th anniversary this year. The EDP was Vermont’s first degree-completion program of its kind.

The EDP, with the JSC Online program launched in 2016, are the core of Johnson State’s distance learning program, which accounts for about a third of JSC’s total enrollment each year. Now mainly online, the EDP enrolls mostly Vermonters while JSC Online is a nationwide bachelor’s-degree initiative. The EDP is geared to students with some college credits who want to finish their degree.  

In its September/October issue, Washington Monthly, a bimonthly, nonprofit magazine, ranked JSC in the top half of its list of 100 Best Colleges for Adult Learners — students 25 and older — among U.S. four-year institutions. JSC is the only Vermont college on the list. The magazine’s rankings are based on how responsive and flexible colleges are with adult learners and students’ success after graduating.

“EDP provides Vermonters with a pathway for completing their bachelor’s degree without relocating or otherwise significantly disrupting their lives. This benefits communities by strengthening the workforce, but more importantly it benefits individuals who are able to earn credentials for professional advancement and subsequently improvement of their quality of life,” says Elaine Collins, president of Johnson and Lyndon state colleges, which will unify as Northern Vermont University July 1, 2018.

“The longtime mission of EDP to help Vermonters complete their degrees is also an avenue for helping the state reach its goal of 70 percent of working-age Vermonters with a postsecondary degree or credential of value by 2025,” Collins says.

When NVU launches, with separate NVU-Johnson and NVU-Lyndon campuses, EDP students may have more majors to choose from. “Students will really benefit from options that become available to them through the unification of Johnson and Lyndon,” JSC Associate Dean of Distance Education Programs Bobbi Jo Carter says.

For more information about the EDP and JSC Online, visit

To read about Washington Monthly’s Best Colleges for Adult Learners, visit and