Developing Associate Degrees in Universities in Afghanistan and Indonesia

The 4th session of the CIE Fall 2019 Dialogue Series featured a discussion on developing Associate Degrees in Afghanistan and Indonesia.  Three speakers from CIE involved in projects to develop new degrees shared their experiences.


Shane Hammond, the Graduate Program Director in the College of Education, described his work with the USAID-funded University Support and Workforce Development Program (USWDP) in Afghanistan. One component of the project established partnerships between Afghanistan universities and American community colleges to develop Associate Degree programs in five different Afghan universities. 


The objectives of the partnership included; establishing new, market-oriented degrees that closely aligned with the needs of the community, strengthening existing curriculum and building faculty members’ teaching capacity.


The partnerships involved three specific areas: Information Technology, Biomedical Technology and Business Accounting and Administration.  For the first two areas, CIE developed partnerships between an Afghan university and an American community college, one in Georgia and one in the state of Washington.  CIE also facilitated new degrees in Business Accounting and Administration, by establishing partnerships between three Afghan universities and three community colleges in Massachusetts – Greenfield, Holyoke and Berkshire Community Colleges.


The partnerships helped create the following outcomes; created a National Commission on Associate Degrees, formalized Associate Degrees for Science & Arts, aligned curriculum to the Afghan economy, established linkages between employers and the universities, and increased capacity of institutions by training faculty members in active student learning methods.

Matthew Glennon, a faculty member in the UMass School of Management, who worked with USWDP, could not be present, but provided written comments on his experience with the Business degrees mentioned above.


UMass provided an initial four-day training seminar, where Afghan Faculty worked in teams to share goals as well as challenges encountered in implementing an Associate Degree programs at their respective Universities. Following the training, professors from the three Massachusetts community colleges worked to support their partners in Afghanistan. The faculty traveled to Afghanistan to lead in-depth training sessions with the Afghan faculty members who were implementing the new Associate Degrees.  They also made recommendations on texts and learning materials, helped revise and strengthen syllabi, and worked to jointly develop detailed curriculum designs.  


Lauren Clarke (Ed.D. 2011) currently works as president of the American College at Sampoerna University in Jakarta, Indonesia. She is leading an effort to develop a two-year general education curriculum that allows students to transfer to four-year degrees within Indonesia or in the U.S.   She is involved in convincing parents and students of the value of two-year associate degrees, as a path to a four-year degree.


There is strong emphasis by employers on soft skills now but it is difficult to convince parents about this need. A great selling point is that 100 percent of students that graduate from the program find jobs in a short period of time. There is also a significant cost saving - up to 75 percent compared with studying in the U.S.