SCC, Mount Mercy University Partner to Offer 4-year Teaching Degree


(West Burlington, IA) – The presidents of Southeastern Community College and Mount Mercy University, MMU, signed an agreement on Monday that provides students a pathway to earn a four-year teaching degree. Students complete a specialized two-year program from SCC and then transfer to MMU for two years to complete the requirements for an education degree. MMU classes will be offered face-to-face on SCC’s West Burlington campus.

SCC President Dr. Michael Ash said strengthening our local education system is critical to the success of the region, “We’ve entered into numerous partnerships with other higher ed institutions but this one is special,” Ash said. “We’re educating our students to become educators themselves.”

Mount Mercy University President Dr. Todd Olson shared how the changing landscape of higher education in the country called for new thinking to today’s challenges.

“This is a turbulent time for higher education institutions,” Olson told attendees. “One of the things that’s most vital for us to do is pursue innovative and creative partnerships.”

Olson shared his vision to see that education from Pre-K through graduate school in the state of Iowa is as vibrant and successful as it can be.

“MMU and SCC are among many partners committed to that as we move our state and our region and our communities forward.”

Taking up the challenge to address Iowa’s critical shortage of teachers and childcare providers, SCC leadership embarked on the path to deliver this kind of instruction to students.

In 2020, SCC launched education programs that would prepare students to enter the workforce within a childcare setting or continue on to complete a teacher licensure program. In addition to students being able to directly enter the childcare workforce, students can choose from early childhood, elementary, and secondary programs to start their path toward a teaching degree.

SCC Dean of Career and Technical Education Dr. Ashlee Spannagel said that the program has been wildly successful, surpassing initial projections.

“We launched our programs during a global pandemic,” Spannagel said. “Fast forward to this year and we have nearly 100 students enrolled for the second straight year.”

In addition to dedicated coursework, students regularly engage with children in real-world childcare settings including Kiddie Campus and Kid Zone day care centers and the Corse Early Childhood Center in Burlington.

Fueled by the initial success of SCC’s two-year programs, college officials looked to expand offerings and opportunities for students interested in pursuing teaching careers.

Only six months ago, academic leadership from both institutions entered discussions about developing a partnership that would provide local residents an opportunity to earn a four-year teaching degree option without having to leave the region.

The resulting partnership agreement provides a seamless pathway for students who complete SCC’s elementary or early childhood education program to complete two more years with MMU right here. Select coursework will be taught by local education professionals and students will participate in field experiences every semester. Classes will be held on the West Burlington campus during the evening. Students can choose from three different teaching endorsements: early childhood education, reading and special education.

For more information on SCC’s education programs and the SCC-Mount Mercy University partnership, contact Dr. Ashlee Spannagel at (319) 208-5380.

For more information about Mount Mercy University, visit