A new, unique University of Wyoming School of Pharmacy program could bring professionals back to school, but a two-tiered pricing system needs approval before the courses can begin.

An entrepreneurial program for health services administration will begin in the fall, but the final tuition prices are still up in the air. A new pilot funding program suggested by incoming Dean Kem Krueger is being considered by the UW Board of Trustees after a meeting Wednesday.

“We are asking for a two-tiered tuition system,” he said. “A lower rate would be charged to Wyoming residents, UW alumni and members of organizations that partner with us to market the program. This two-tiered approach is important to us because it allows us to provide a benefit to these groups.”

Tuition would be priced at $825 a credit hour with a lower rate of $650 credit hours. These tuition prices are significantly higher than regular UW pharmacy tuition rates set at $119 for resident undergraduates. However, the entrepreneurial program has to be self-sustaining, as it is designed with people in the workforce in mind.

“These will all be working professionals,” he said. “People are looking at this as a way to differentiate themselves in their career.”

Similar entrepreneurial programs are already uncommon — about one-third of the 130 schools offering pharmacy degrees have comparable programs. However, UW’s entrepreneurial health services administration program would be almost entirely online, which Krueger said is only offered at about 10 other institutions.

About 25 students need to be enrolled per year for the program to break even. Based on comparable institutions and informal discussions, Krueger said to expect about 40-60 people every year. A large selling point would be UW’s low prices, even with a two-tiered system.

“Other institutions around the country offer this from $750-$1,399,” he said. “We would be significantly below market price.”

The program, expected to take two years with a summer semester, would still cost about $19,500 for the lower rate. Most of the students, probably 90 percent, would fall into the lower pricing, Krueger said. Some organizations, such as the Wyoming Pharmacy Association or the American Pharmacists Associations, can help market the program, and people who apply through those programs would receive the lower-tiered pricing.

The trustees approved the creation of the program in 2015, but a pricing system had yet to be set up. Approval of this two-tier system is one of the last steps in the process, but some trustees wanted a little more information before signing off on the agreement.

“(The report states) the dean would determine the affiliated organizations, and this goes back to, which organizations or people would be getting these discounted rates,” Trustee John McKinley said.

Trustee Mike Massie also spoke about the funding system — the tuition requests states any revenue would be split between the School of Pharmacy and the School of Outreach, which is helping advertise the program to outside entities.

“How does the fact that the various colleges will be able to generate profit and at a high rate — how does that work with our effort to develop a centralized accounting system in which decisions on resources are more centralized than they have been in the past?” he said.

If the tuition system were not approved, Krueger said the pricing would likely stay on the lower end of the spectrum.

“If we wouldn’t get approval for the two-tiered system, we’d go with the $650 tuition,” Krueger said. “It gives us an advantage over our competition.”

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