Drexel University and Peirce College to Collaborate on Academic Programs That Support Career Transition for Adults

Pilot Programs Will Expand Access to Degree Completion and Upskilling Opportunities for Adults Preparing for Philadelphia’s Evolving Job Market
Main Building Drexel

Drexel University and Peirce College are working together to expand access for adult learners interested in advancing their education and preparing a more diverse talent pipeline for employers in the region.


Over the next 10 years, Philadelphia is expected to add tens of thousands of new jobs, primarily in health care and technology-driven medical research, as the city continues its growth as a hub for gene therapy and life sciences research. To help Philadelphians prepare for these opportunities, Drexel and Peirce have partnered to create a pair of pilot programs that will open new pathways for adults who are continuing their education to better position themselves for jobs created by this economic growth.


The first of these pilot programs is a Peirce-Drexel pathway program. Adult learners interested in online bachelor’s degree programs at Drexel, but who have fewer than 24 college credits, can enroll first at Peirce to earn an online associate degree, with the option of embedding select industry-relevant certifications in the program. Credits earned for the associate degree will transfer to Drexel and can be applied toward select online bachelor’s degrees.


In addition, the institutions are working in partnership with St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children to offer an apprenticeship opportunity to complement medical coding and billing certificates offered at Peirce, which can stack to an online bachelor’s degree at Drexel.


“This program aims to remove the barriers that prevent many adults from completing their degree, enrolling at colleges and universities and acquiring the credentials and advanced skills needed to secure in-demand, well-paying jobs,” said Drexel President John Fry. “This collaboration reflects our shared commitment to promote inclusive economic growth in service to the Philadelphia community.”


The pilot programs represent a new educational model that allows Peirce — an institution that has been focused on providing working adults with access to affordable education for more than 150 years — to expand its mission of serving adult learners, while bolstering Drexel’s efforts to expand access to its academic offerings for students in the Greater Philadelphia region.


"This effort leverages Peirce's mission of serving adult students and underrepresented, nontraditional students along with Drexel's expertise in creating experiential learning opportunities and career-focused programs to expand access to quality education for adults in the Philadelphia region," said Dr. Mary Ellen Caro, president and CEO of Peirce. "We believe it will result in accelerating innovation and economic recovery in our region."


Through their partnership with St. Christopher’s, Peirce and Drexel are helping Philadelphians prepare for a career path that is expected to be in high demand in the coming years, according to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


“A critical part of St. Christopher’s mission is to enhance the health of the communities we serve­­—inside and outside the hospital walls­, physically and even economically” said Don Mueller, CEO of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. “This new coding and billing program will help individuals gain the skills they need to find a position that pays well, hopefully at St. Christopher’s — a win-win that will provide key employees in an era of health care staffing shortages and infuse much-needed capital into the community.”


The goal of these initiatives is to enable both institutions to help more adult and nontraditional learners expand their skillset and move into high-demand jobs — and to provide these opportunities on pathways flexible enough to accommodate the schedule of working adults. If the pilots are successful, the schools plan to expand their partnership to offer additional educational opportunities.


Both institutions have deep histories when it comes to preparing Philadelphians for careers of the future. For Peirce, it began in 1865, when Thomas May Peirce saw that former soldiers would need practical business training as they prepared for careers after the Civil War. In 1891, Anthony J. Drexel saw a similar need to prepare young men and women for jobs in a rapidly growing industrial society following the Industrial Revolution.


As the city’s workforce is poised for another transition — this time, driven by the growth of health care and technology-enabled medical research in life sciences and gene therapy — Drexel and Peirce are collaborating in service to the community and their shared, foundational missions.