NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Nearly three years after discussions began, the first physical off-site branch of Stephen F. Austin State University has opened at Lone Star College's University Center at Montgomery and, pending approval, will begin offering courses this fall.

Hosted through SFA's College of Liberal and Applied Arts, two bachelor's and one master's degree will be offered through the partnership to individuals seeking to build on associates degrees, vocational or technical training programs, military training, and occupational licensure or certification, or to advance in any social work industry.

Located in The Woodlands, SFA's University Center office will draw students predominantly from the north Houston area.

"This partnership creates a pathway for people to move from a vocational/technical field into a bachelor's and graduate program," said Dr. Stephen Cooper, associate dean of SFA's College of Liberal and Applied Arts and director of the Division of Multidisciplinary Programs. "It provides them an opportunity to advance their career or change career paths without losing all the work they've already done."

Degree programs available through the partnership include a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences, Bachelor of Social Work, and Master of Social Work. The B.A.A.S. option gives students holding an Associate in Applied Sciences or certificate program completers an opportunity to apply workforce education credit toward a bachelor's degree.

The B.A.A.S. with a professional development area in public administration also offers an opportunity for students to segue into a Master of Public Administration or Master of Social Work. Both are ideal for students in the Applied Arts and Sciences program in allied health occupations, public safety, behavioral health or human services.

"The SFA College of Liberal and Applied Arts is excited about launching our new relationship with Lone Star College," said Dr. Brian Murphy, dean of the college. "The students and the community will benefit as a result of this cooperation."

Many courses will be offered online and through Web and video conferencing, allowing students to pursue these options without leaving the Houston area.

"I'm excited that attending SFA will now be an option for more non-traditional students," said Kimberly Morris, SFA assistant director of admissions at the LSC-Montgomery's University Center. "I'm available to discuss all aspects of the application and enrollment process for individuals who intend on pursuing a degree at the main campus or through the University Center at Lone Star. I'm especially interested in assisting community college students with taking classes that will seamlessly transfer into SFA for their intended major."

Many courses will be offered online or at night to increase flexibility and cater to the partnership's main demographic - working professionals and other vocational/technical students.

"The reason why social work was such a good fit is because there are no similar degree plans offered on the north side of Houston," Cooper said. "There also are only two M.S.W. programs in the Houston area, and admission is very competitive, so the market demand for an M.S.W. in the area has not been met by far. A lot of SFA students come from Houston as well, so they now have the opportunity to come to SFA for their B.S.W., return home and also get their M.S.W. from us."

Deliberations with LSC began in the fall of 2013 when SFA officials became interested in open space within the organization's University Center. SFA began working with LSC to articulate, or match, dozens of courses offered by the college to equivalent or applicable SFA classes.

"This partnership creates a pathway for students and working professionals to go directly from a variety of areas to a four-year degree program without having to find some place that will do a course-by-course articulation," Cooper said. "A lot of the students in vocational, technical or other fields need a four-year degree to advance in administration and forward. This provides a pathway not only to do that but, for some of them, it could provide a pathway to springboard into a graduate program."

Enrollment for the fall opens in April.

For information or to apply, email

Those interested in the B.A.A.S. degree may call (936) 468-6066 or email for more information; or for the B.S.W. or M.S.W., call (936) 468-5105, or email