Brandman University, Rio Salado College create new partnership for online degrees

October 01, 2020

The following content first appeared on the news page while UMass Global operated under its former name of Brandman University.

IRVINE, Calif. (Oct. 1, 2020) – Brandman University and Rio Salado College today announced a new partnership enabling students to earn an online associate degree with seamless transfers into selected online baccalaureate programs.

The programs are open to students throughout the United States. Brandman is headquartered in Irvine, California. Rio Salado is based in Tempe, Arizona.

Brandman and Rio Salado share a common mission to promote college completion via online learning. Both institutions specialized in distance learning courses for several years before the coronavirus pandemic prompted a widespread shift to online learning at colleges and universities from coast to coast. The schools also share a commitment to fostering a learning environment that promotes diversity, equity, inclusion and putting the needs of their students above all else.

“We are committed to providing accessible and adaptable online pathways for students to achieve their goals,” Rio Salado Interim President Kate Smith said. “Beyond this present crisis, we look forward to this partnership providing innovative and flexible options for students who may be juggling multiple responsibilities, serving in the military, residing a prohibitive distance from an institution of higher education, or who simply prefer the flexibility and experience that this online partnership provides.”

This partnership will enhance Brandman’s and Rio Salado’s abilities to offer relevant degree programs to students who are looking for online programs because they are a safer option while the pandemic is still a public health concern, or because they are at a point in their lives at which online learning best matches their personal needs.

The partnership establishes articulated transfer pathways leading to bachelor’s degrees in business and information technology. Additional degree pathways will be created in the future.

“Starting at a community college and transferring to a four-year university is a cost-effective pathway to a four-year degree,” Brandman Chancellor Gary Brahm said. “Working together, Brandman and Rio Salado will be able to provide students who select the transfer route a reliable roadmap to the degrees they want to earn.”

The transfer pathways will also create value for students by enabling them to concentrate their time on classes leading to a degree and ensuring that students will earn a valuable credential – an associate of arts or science – midway through their college journey. Transfer pathways offer cost savings for students allowing them to benefit from Rio Salado College’s affordable tuition rate while they complete their associate degree.

Federal data show Americans working in positions that generally require no greater credential than a high school diploma earned a median wage of about $38,000 last year. An associate degree opened the door to positions that paid a median wage of about $55,000 last year, and a bachelor’s degree could qualify a recipient for jobs that paid a median wage of about $75,000.

Working Americans with college credentials are also less likely to be unemployed during hard times. Labor Department figures covering April through August of this year show substantially lower unemployment rates among members of the workforce who have earned bachelor’s degrees. Similarly, people with associate degrees had lower unemployment rates than people who did not go to college.

Brandman and Rio Salado are regionally-accredited institutions and national leaders in online education with long records of helping students complete the transfer process. Serving more than a quarter million students online for more than 20 years, Rio Salado has been a leader and innovator in distance learning since 1978. A survey of 554 students who graduated from Rio Salado from 2014 to 2019 found that 91% indicated that the college met or exceeded their online learning expectations.

Rio Salado College has more than 40 additional partnerships with four-year schools within and beyond the Grand Canyon State, offering educational opportunities to communities across the country.

Brandman is well-adapted to educating transfer students. As a formal partner with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, Brandman guarantees admission to California community college graduates who earn an associate degree for transfer. Brandman students are typically working adults who already have some college credits to their name when they enroll, and federal College Scorecard data shows full-time transfer-in students have a 76% graduation rate within eight years of enrollment with Brandman.


Brandman University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. As part of the Chapman University System, Brandman blends a legacy of academic excellence with innovative programs and support services designed for students with busy schedules. The university offers undergraduate, graduate, credential and certificate programs designed to be relevant to more than 90 career paths. Brandman serves about 22,000 students, about 14,000 of whom are degree-seeking students, at 25 physical campuses in California and Washington, as well as online. Brandman offers fully-online courses for students anywhere in the United States and for military personnel serving abroad. For additional information, visit the university’s website.

Rio Salado College
is one of ten Maricopa Community Colleges and one of the largest online public community colleges in the nation, serving nearly 50,000 students annually with almost 30,000 online in 50 states and internationally. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, Rio Salado offers 600+ online classes, 130+ degree and certificate programs and general education courses. The college also provides support for dual enrollment, military and incarcerated students and serves as the largest provider of adult education in Arizona.


Media Contacts:

Terri M. Carbaugh, Brandman University Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs: [email protected]

Andrew Edwards, Brandman University Senior Multimedia News Writer: [email protected]

Annette Flores, Rio Salado College Senior Public Relations Marketing Analyst: [email protected]

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