Associate degree in 6 months? One Wichita area college has found a way

Students work in a computer lab at Butler Community College in 2016.
Students work in a computer lab at Butler Community College in 2016. File photo

Students seeking an associate degree in digital technology can now opt for a "fast-track" program at Butler Community College and finish in a quarter of the time.

"It's absolutely one-of-a-kind, and we think it will be incredibly popular," said Darryl Runyan, chair of Butler's Interactive, Digital and 3D Department, who developed the accelerated program.

"For someone who has been laid off and wants to transition to another career, or someone who just graduated from high school and wants to be done with their degree quickly and move on to a paying job, we think this is going to be perfect for them."

The fast-track program, which will launch next month, allows students to earn an associate of applied science degree in interactive, digital and 3-D technology. It requires the same 60 credit hours as the traditional two-year program, but is packed into three eight-week blocks, during which students take classes from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The program is designed to give students the skills needed for careers in game design and developing, animation, virtual reality creation and similar fields, Runyan said. Graduates could find jobs in medical, aviation, film, automotive and related industries.

"This is for the determined student," he said. "It's for the person who knows that this is what they want to do, because the fast-track program will require a high level of dedication and commitment."

Last fall, Butler Community College overhauled the way it teaches math, offering college algebra and three other courses in five-week "modules" rather than the traditional semester-long format — a strategy designed to make the subject less intimidating and more convenient for students.

Runyan said that change inspired him to think about new ways to teach his courses.

For the ID3D Fast Track launch, up to 10 students will begin June 4 and complete courses in the fall. In coming years, the program will begin in the spring semester and run through summer and early fall, Runyan said. Some online coursework is included, and Butler provides all the required computers, software and other equipment.

The cost of the degree is the same whether students opt for the tradition or accelerated program, and financial aid is available, he said.

"Companies need workers now, not in two years," Runyan said. "So we recognize the need for faster educational delivery."

Interested students must apply by May 31 either online, at, or by visiting the registrar's office at the El Dorado campus, 901 S. Haverhill Road in El Dorado, or the Andover campus, 1810 N. Andover Road. For more information, contact Runyan at 316-218-6132 or