The Western Orthodox University awards degrees at bachelor, master and doctoral levels in the areas of Christian theology, ministry, education, music (including sacred music), and the arts and humanities in general. It can also accommodate bespoke, self-designed degree programmes that may include interdisciplinary work or more unusual subjects, provided it can offer the necessary tutorial and examining support. The Western Orthodox University works closely with its sister institution, European-American University, which offers a wider range of degrees in secular areas, and shares faculty and resources.
The Western Orthodox University’s degrees are mapped to the levels established by UNESCO’s International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) (2011 edition) for easy comparability across different educational systems. All degrees are issued under the authority of the University’s incorporation in the Commonwealth of Dominica.
Classroom study and distance learning
Students who wish to complete a Western Orthodox University degree by campus study in a traditional classroom setting can do so at a network of some twenty affiliated partner campus institutions, mostly located in Africa. This network is shared with our sister institution European-American University, and all partner campuses can prepare students for degrees awarded by both institutions.
Other students will prepare for their programme through one-to-one distance or correspondence study with a mentor. Most of these students use email to communicate with their mentor and the University, although traditional postal mail is also acceptable. The University does not offer online courses. All programmes are capable of a high degree of individual customization, subject to University approval. There are no classes or cohorts of students in the distance learning programme. It is possible to enrol at any time of the year, and a student may complete at their own pace, subject only to an annual continuation fee payable on the anniversary of matriculation.
It is possible for some students to pursue a blended learning programme with elements of both classroom and distance learning.
Graduation occurs when the University confirms to the student that all academic and financial requirements of their programme have been met. The student may opt to attend a convocation ceremony to graduate in person, or, if they are unable to attend the ceremony, their graduation documents will be sent to them by mail.
The option of a top-up programme is particularly popular at the bachelor’s degree level. Often a candidate will have completed a previous university-level diploma or other professional credential that fulfils a significant proportion of the requirements for a bachelor’s degree. In this situation, they need only complete a top-up dissertation or professional project in order to progress to the bachelor’s degree.
With the exception of those classroom programmes that feature a cohort of students following a common curriculum, the majority of the programmes offered by the University are individually designed. Although model frameworks are available in some areas for guidance, most of our students relish the opportunity for individual input in their studies and have clear ideas of what they want to achieve and how they intend to get there.
At an initial stage, typically before formal admission, the candidate is asked to set out a framework of intended study that can form the basis of a learning contract. They may do this on the basis of existing interests within a subject, look to skills and strengths that they feel they wish to demonstrate at degree level, or explore hitherto unfamiliar areas where they wish to gain a more in-depth appreciation. They may wish to study with a particular Fellow of the University in order to take advantage of their expertise in a particular field at high level. The learning contract is reviewed by the University at this early stage to ensure that supervision and examination can be provided to support the desired programme adequately, as well as to assess that the proposal will meet the expected academic standard for the degree concerned.
There is no requirement for formal examinations as part of most programmes. Assessment is typically via coursework, with an essay or paper set to test understanding of each topic or part thereof, and feedback offered by a mentor who reports on the student’s achievement to the University. More experienced candidates may wish to complete one or more major pieces of work for degree assessment. At the doctoral level, this will often consist of research with an original component, leading to scholarly output that would be of publishable quality.
Assessment of prior learning and previously published work
The Western Orthodox University has particular expertise in the accreditation of prior learning (APL, APEL) gained through learning experiences that may have occurred within or outside the classroom. Many adults have gained previous non-degree credentials, together with significant learning experiences in the course of their professional history. The University can assess all of these sources of learning and apply them to meet the requirements of a degree programme.
If you have published books or articles in professional journals, you may be eligible to pursue a degree through the assessment of previously published work. This option is usually undertaken at the doctoral level, where it provides a route to the Ph.D. degree. For those who have substantial publications above this level, it is possible to be a candidate for a higher doctorate (Doctor of Letters, Doctor of Canon Law).
The University makes a number of honorary awards, usually at the doctoral level, each year to persons who have distinguished themselves in any field, to those who have rendered support to the University, and to those who have given distinguished service to the University. In addition, the University extends to some faculty members and others associated with the University the privilege of incorporating a degree earned elsewhere so that they may also be awarded the same degree of the University. All such awards are made by invitation only and self-nomination of candidates is not accepted.