College Unbound

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CU Welcomes Vets

Your military training is valued at College Unbound (CU). The next step is to complete your bachelor’s degree, and bring your skills and talent to your community and workplace. CU welcomes all active servicemembers, veterans, and their eligible dependents!

What is College Unbound?

College Unbound is an innovative bachelor’s degree completion program that facilitates a real-world curriculum built around projects which you design in connection to your work and interests. The development of field-specific knowledge and skills are interlaced through a combination of courses, field studies, and in-depth work on projects with meaningful impact.

At the center of the curriculum are College Unbound’s Leadership and Change Competencies - The Big 10. We have designed a way to credential the intellectual, practical, and social skills that employers demand. These skills aren’t an add-on or byproduct of the curriculum—they are the curriculum and incorporated in all aspects of the work you will do. They are, as follows:

Accountability Collaboration Creativity Intercultural Engagement Reflection
Advocacy for Self and Others Communications Critical Thinking Problem Solving Resilience

As a CU student, you will engage in continual field study, examining your spheres of interest and professions through direct, face to face interactions with experts. Your real-world project will require research, interviewing and building relationships, and testing theories and ideas in ways that are meaningful to you and beneficial to the community and /or the organization where you work.

Current student project examples:

  • Addressing the Need for Immigrant Parent Involvement in their Children’s Education
  • Starting a Media Company Specifically for Disadvantaged Youth
  • Creating a Space for Differently-Abled People
  • Developing/Providing Music Therapy for Veterans with PTSD & Physical Limitations
  • Designing a Tech-Infused Fashion Line whose Proceeds will Fund the Combating of Child Human Trafficking

Why Choose College Unbound?

  • Flexible course schedule that allows you to work full-time and enroll part-time or full-time.
  • Affordable college tuition ($9,900 per year).
  • Acceptance of up to 90 credits to enroll.
  • Transfer credit for prior learning including ACE recommendations for military credit, CLEP exams, and others.
  • Project-based curriculum creates an immediate impact on your workplace, community, and life.
  • Regular one-on-one advising and mentor support.
  • Assistance with career placement.

Requirements for Admissions*

The requirements for admission as a degree candidate are that the applicant:

  •      have a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent (e.g., G.E.D.).
  •      has earned at least 9 college credits.  
  •      have a minimum 2.0 career (total) gpa, or have received notice of conditional acceptance.
  •      be employed or willing to take on a 10 hour per week internship.
  •      have basic computer skills.
  •      have computer and internet access.
  •      participate in an admissions interview.

The nine (9) credits required for admission must include Composition 101 and demonstrate academic readiness.  The Composition course must have been taken at an accredited college or university. Other credits may have been earned through an accredited college or university, through the armed services, by assessment of prior learning experiences, or by completing standardized college-level proficiency exams with an acceptable score.

*Conditional Acceptance may be granted to students who lack one or more admissions requirements if determined they are otherwise a good fit. Conditional Acceptance Policy is described below.


Conditional Acceptance

A student who is accepted into the College with less than a 2.0 career (total) GPA will be placed on a type of academic probation called Conditional Acceptance. The student will have one semester or twelve (12) credits to earn a 2.0 career GPA, or he/she will be dismissed from the College.

What are Your Next Steps?
1) Determine Your Eligibility Status


Your first step is to apply online for GI Bill Education Benefits at or follow the links provided below. This process can take up to six (6) weeks. Do it today!

complete form 22-1990

complete 28-1900

complete form 22-1990

complete form 22-5490

complete form 22-1990

Discuss with VA Education Call Center Agent at 1-888- GIBILL-1.
7 a.m. – 6 p.m. CST Monday – Friday


2) Visit College Unbound

Attend an upcoming Open House especially for servicemembers, veterans or their families. Learn more about how our individualized program can fit your life as you complete your bachelor’s degree! Below is a list of our Open House dates:

  • Monday, May 1st - 6:00 pm to 7:30pm
  • Thursday, Jun 5th - 6:00 pm to 7:30pm
  • Wednesday, Jul 12th - 6:00 pm to 7:30pm
  • Wednesday, Aug 2nd - 6:00 pm to 7:30pm

You are always welcome to set up a meeting with Jill van Leesten, MSW, Ed.S. - Enrollment Coordinator/School Certifying Official at or (401)-383-6476.

3) Request Your Transcript for Credit Evaluation
Request your official transcript(s) from previous college experiences and the military. Start the request for your transcripts by visiting links on your college’s website.  Drop off or mail your official transcript to:
College Unbound
ATTN: Jill van Leesten
325 Public Street
Justice Building- 2nd Floor Admissions

Providence, RI 02906

College Unbound’s Enrollment Coordinator will review your official transcripts. We will maximize your transfer credit opportunities with a thorough evaluation. Once the evaluation is completed, the Enrollment Coordinator will send a report of accepted credits to you and to your Academic Advisor.

4) Apply to College Unbound

You’ve visited College Unbound, perhaps watched classes in action, spoken to a fellow servicemember, and seen how your vision to complete your bachelor’s degree is within reach. Now it’s time to take action!

Click here to apply!

5) Attend an Interview with College Unbound’s Staff/Faculty

Once we have received your application and reviewed your official transcripts, you will be invited to the first round of interviews. During this visit you will be asked for a short writing piece and a quick technology assessment.

Based on this first interview, you will be invited back for a second round of interviews.

6) Receive acceptance to College Unbound

Once you have been selected you will receive an official letter of acceptance, along with a phone call from the admissions committee.

7) Meet with Academic Advisor

When confirming your acceptance, we will schedule a meeting with your Academic Advisor. At this meeting there will be a transcript review in order to design your Graduation Plan. This charts a clear pathway to the required 120 credits for your bachelor’s degree.

8) Deliver Your Certificate of Eligibility

It may take up to six (6) weeks to receive your Certificate of Eligibility award letter. We ask that you bring it to the School Certifying Official immediately. It is the Certifying Official’s responsibility to authorize all the necessary paperwork to certify your enrollment and to report any changes in your enrollment status (unsatisfactory progress, conduct, or attendance) within a 30 day time-frame.

9) Complete Your Veteran’s Certification Worksheet

Once you have registered for classes, designed your Graduation Plan, your next step will be to  complete the mandatory Veteran’s Certification Worksheet (VCW). This form must be submitted each semester to the Certifying Official to continue your eligibility for VA benefits. Please find the VCW attached below:

Frequently Asked Questions 

Will I Be Prepared for a Career?

The program is carefully designed so that you acquire the necessary lifelong learning competencies that employers and life demand—skills essential to personal development, career development, and participatory citizenship. Students build understanding of the functions of leadership in organizations and communities in the context of rapid technological and societal change. They design, implement, and evaluate extensive workplace and/or community action research projects to enact change. The program prepares you for careers as community leaders, chief executive officers, general/operational/administrative managers, human resource specialists, and social and community services managers—management positions are listed within the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training’s Top 50 Occupations With Largest Growth 2012 – 2022.

How many credits do I need to start College Unbound? Is there a cap on how many you will accept?

To enter College Unbound you need a minimum of 9 prior credits from an accredited college or university. 3 of those credits must be for Composition.  You may transfer credits from regionally accredited post-secondary colleges or universities, through CLEP examination, ACE recommendations for military credits and prior learning portfolio review. It is a graduation requirement that a student earn 30 college credits through College Unbound which means this requires at least 1.5years—two full semesters and one 8-week term at College Unbound.

Up to 90 credits may be transferred from other accredited universities upon College Unbound approval, but will not be officially recorded until the student has successfully completed some coursework at College Unbound. College Unbound faculty review potential transfer credit according to policy which addresses things such as currency, rigor, appropriateness to degree program, and overlapping content.

How is my student status determined? How do I know how long it will take for me to complete my degree?

You need a total of 120 credits to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership and Change. Once your application and your transcript(s) (including CLEP examination and other Prior Learning Assessment results) have been received, a thorough assessment is done to maximize your credit accumulation. After the review, you will meet with our Enrollment Coordinator/ School Certifying Official, to design your Graduation Plan which will target the date of your bachelor’s degree completion.

Will all my credits transfer from other accredited colleges or universities?

Credit transferring is a process. Most course credits from a regionally accredited college or university with a grade of “C” or better will transfer. Physical Education credits do not transfer. Courses you may have taken as a prerequisite may not transfer. This is why you must submit transcripts for review.

How is life experience evaluated for credit?

College Unbound recognizes that many adults participate in learning experiences outside the traditional classroom setting. Learning (that parallels learning obtained in traditional university settings) may occur through readings, work experiences, travel, volunteer activities, hobbies, and self-directed learning projects. Through a CAEL/CU partnership, students may submit portfolios that highlight their documented/verified experiences tied to content-related college course descriptions.

All students are required to take the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) course when they start College Unbound. In the PLA course, you will learn the steps it takes to have your experience evaluated for credit. You will demonstrate those steps by developing a complete PLA document, which is part of the course requirement. It will be submitted for evaluation. You’ll receive 3 credits for successfully completing the PLA course. In addition, the document you create of your prior learning could potentially earn you more credit.

IMPORTANT: Past experience is evaluated based on the knowledge that you gained. It’s not simply a list of your experiences, but an evaluation of deep, meaningful learning that would match what you might learn in an accredited course. So, credit is not granted for experience alone, but for the knowledge that you gained as a result of the experience. The PLA course will guide you through that process. 

How much does College Unbound cost?
College Unbound’s tuition is $9,900 per year with books and supplies included.  The application/ registration fee ($50) is waived for servicemembers, veterans and their eligible dependents.

Student Fees:

  • Technology fee             $100 (per semester)
      E-library & tech support
  • Graduation Fee             $100 (one time)

      Diploma, Administration

  • Transcript Fee                $15 (per request)


  • Returned Check Fee       $25 (per event)


How many days/hours a week will I need to attend class or meet with my Academic Advisor?
This is not like traditional coursework where you get credit based on how many hours a week you attend different courses. There is one weekly seminar that the entire student body is required to attend – usually on Monday nights. There are requirements for posting your work online and taking part in discussion groups with your peers. There are also regularly scheduled meetings with your Academic Advisor and Professional Mentor. While the College Unbound program and schedule is non-traditional, student engaged academic time meets credit requirements.  

How many hours a week will I need to dedicate to coursework?
At College Unbound, we don’t separate coursework from learning. We see this as a program that fits into your life and engages the issues you address in your job and your personal interests. You need to have time each week to have meetings, talk through your plan, and write about the work you are accomplishing in meaningful ways. On average our students report they spend 30 - 35 hours engaged in project related activities which complement their current work or community life.

We encourage you to be vigilant and remember that this is a commitment you are making to yourself and your future, and that requires planning and carrying through to meet your goals. Your Academic Advisor and Instructional Faculty are committed to supporting you as challenges appear and keeping you focused on completing your bachelor’s degree.

Approved as a degree granting institution in Rhode Island on May 20, 2015, College Unbound’s application to offer GI Bill® benefits to servicemembers, veterans and eligible dependents is pending with the RI Approving Agency. We anticipate approval by June 2017.