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Newport News Shipbuilding’ Apprentice School gets OK to issue college degrees

Apprentice shipfitter Aaron Doswell, right, and Chadwick Albert learn to cut steel at Northrop Grumman’s Apprentice School in Newport News on Tuesday. The two split their days between the classroom and the shipyard as part of the program, in which they earn a salary and benefits. (Steve Earley | The Virginian-Pilot)

One of the most selective schools in the nation, Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School, has won the right to issue college degrees in its own name.

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia this month formally approved the Apprentice School’s request to operate as a postsecondary institution.

The school plans to grant associates of applied science degrees in maritime technology in 26 disciplines, including maintenance electrician, marine designer, nuclear test technician and modeling and simulation program analyst.

It expects final approval of the degree programs from the Council of Occupational Education to come later this year.

“This is an historic milestone for The Apprentice School,” said Xavier Beale, Newport News Shipbuilding’s vice president of trades.

“Our ability to offer academic degrees deepens our commitment to workforce development and will open new opportunities for our company to help to meet the ever-growing demand for skilled workers in our region.”

The Apprentice School, founded in 1919, offers four- to eight-year, tuition-free apprenticeships in 19 trades and nine optional advanced programs.

Apprentices work a 40-hour week and are paid for all work, including time spent in academic classes.

They can earn associate degrees in business administration, engineering and engineering technology and bachelor’s degrees in mechanical or electrical engineering through the school’s partnerships with Thomas Nelson Community College, Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University.

The new certification now gives the school the ability to grant and confer degrees on its own and comes after a yearlong review that looked at students’ success and that considered the program’s impact on the economies of Hampton Roads and Virginia.

The Apprentice School established its first certificate program in 2019, awarding maritime studies certificates to apprentices who successfully complete the World Class Shipbuilding Curriculum.

Dave Ress, 757-247-4535, dress@dailypress.com

July 2020
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