13:30 PM

UST Blazes Trail to New Four-Year Degree for Students with Learning Differences

First and ONLY university in the nation to provide this opportunity

Dr. Tera Torres with some of the 26 Pragmatic Studies students who made the Dean's list: (from left to right) Sophia Velasquez, Tommy Hughes, Madison Brooks, Guillermo Proano, Dr. Torres, Cheyenne Humes, and Kathia RaneriAwaiting accreditation approval from SACSCOC, the University of St. Thomas-Houston is prepared to launch the nation’s only Bachelor of Arts degree designed for college students with learning differences. UST’s B.A. for Applied Science (BAAS) in Social Innovation and Human Service, planned for fall 2023, will be a two-year add-on to the University’s highly successful Associate of Applied Science in Pragmatic Studies Program. 

Dr. Tera Torres is blazing this B.A. trail as she champions every student who will benefit from it.

She said, “We will use Universal Design for Learning in this coursework as we do in the associate degree. It’s five semesters of absolute curiosity and self-actualization. And we will be the only college in the country to provide such an opportunity. UST is again telling people who learn differently: ‘You matter. You belong here. We believe in you.’”

Pragmatic Studies student Colton Porras making Dean's List and receiving hug from Dr. Tera TorresLiving up to Torres’ confidence in their abilities, 26 Pragmatic Studies students made the Dean’s list for fall 2022.

Examples of the Coursework

Within the new program, students will take courses in social entrepreneurship, financial planning for nonprofits, and even a class in documentary filmmaking.

“Graduates will be able to pursue jobs in the community service fields of HR, customer service, urban planning, working with nonprofits—anything that deals with community endeavors and social enrichment,” Torres added.  

As part of the degree, students will complete an 18-hour minor in their chosen fields. They can select any minor at UST. Torres and her team will support their learning of that minor through the B.A. program and with the Office of Disability Services. 

Full Cohort of AAS Grads Will Seed New BAAS Program

The new B.A. provides another life goal for UST’s first Pragmatic Studies cohort. All 12 students will have earned their AAS in May 2023.  

“We will have a full cohort of students graduating with their AAS in May and ready for the challenge,” Torres affirmed. “And they are so prepared for the next step. Our pragmatic studies students embody everything UST stands for — goodness, discipline, and knowledge. And they are the smartest and most capable people on the planet.”

The AAS will continue to be housed in The Kolbe School of Innovation & Professional Studies, and the BAAS will be housed in the School of Education and Human Services.

“If we could all march to our own drummers and we could all do life differently, how rich would our world be? Our students are game changers. Change agents. The cream of the crop. And God's most amazing souls. There is no place like UST, and the world better get ready because my students are coming, and there is no stopping them. Go, CELTS!”