Glenville State to offer bluegrass degree online

Glenville State College in West Virginia has added a new wrinkle to the rapidly expanding opportunities to study bluegrass in a collegiate setting. They will now offer the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree in bluegrass, completely online.

Given the ability to offer one-on-one instruction through video chat, they feel that the technology exists to combine online classwork with private instrumental and vocal instruction, and offer a fully certified degree using only your computer. The new online program is set up to allow students to pursue a degree at their own rate, either studying part time for as long as it takes, or in an accelerated process that can be completed in three years.

Students would only be required to be on campus for a face-to-face residency, and a senior recital, but they are welcome to rehearse and perform with the GSC bluegrass band if they are willing and able to do so. Alternative coursework is provided for students who wish to do it all online. Students can receive course credits for attending festivals or playing with a bluegrass band wherever you live. You could even earn this degree part time while touring with a band.

This program also includes the usual general education courses that make up a bachelors degree, and these courses can also be taken online, all at a lower fee than you might expect to pay at a large university. They are quite proud to note that the new GSC President, Tracy L. Pellet, was recently recognized by the West Virginia legislature for the affordability of their programs.

And if you have been studying elsewhere, some of your credits may be transferable to Glenville State.

Megan Darby, Assistant Professor of Music at GSC, and Director of the Bluegrass Degree program, tells us that she has been working with pioneers and professionals in the field of bluegrass music, collecting their thoughts and viewpoints about what should be included in a bluegrass higher education program. She says that, “many of these professionals have agreed to ‘donate’ their knowledge and time to help archive a series of lectures, lessons, and discussions to be used in our online courses.”

Anyone with a high school diploma is eligible to apply, and Megan says that there has already been international interest from potential students in Korea and Australia. Classes will include bluegrass history, business of music, recording and engineering, music theory, lessons, internships, learning and caring for string instruments, in additional to general education courses like English, History, Social Studies, or Science.

Megan is excited about being able to provide this opportunity for a wider group of students, saying, “The purpose is still to preserve traditional bluegrass, but we feel that this delivery method allows for a broader audience of learners.”

She also stressed that you don’t have to be a hot picker to pursue a bluegrass degree.

“Many professionals in the field have contributed with photography, journalism, MC work, promotion and publicity, instrument repair, audio engineering, and more. The purpose of incorporating internships is to help these learners find their purpose and best skills to contribute to our community.”

Of course Glenville’s on-campus degree will continue to be offered for students who prefer that sort of experience.

More details will be available soon on the GSC web site, with online degree study starting in the Fall semester. For more information, contact Megan Darby by email or by phone (304-462-6347). For pricing details, contact the Admissions Department.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.