The University of Northern Iowa (UNI) and Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) are entering into a new partnership that will provide DMACC students with a streamlined pathway to a four-year degree - all while benefiting from the convenience of the Des Moines location.

Known as “UNI at DMACC,” the new 2 + 2 program is designed for students to complete their first two years at DMACC, with the remaining two years completed through UNI on the DMACC Urban Campus. Students graduating from the program will earn a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree. Designed to make degree completion easier for DMACC students by eliminating the obstacles of relocation, the program will prepare even more students for careers that require a four-year degree.  

The partnership, developed by DMACC President Rob Denson and UNI President Mark Nook, was announced Wednesday at the DMACC campus as the result of more than a year of conversations centering around how to make a bachelor’s degree more convenient for the 5,000 students enrolled at the DMACC Urban Campus. The program will begin in the fall of 2020, pending approval by the Iowa Board of Regents.

The University of Northern Iowa’s Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree is designed for students who have completed a two-year degree and need a rigorous and flexible program that employers value. Initially, courses will be offered in an online format with staff present to support students in all aspects of the program. The potential exists to expand to additional offerings between the two schools.  

“The Liberal Studies degree at DMACC’s Urban Campus is a demonstration of our commitment to finding new ways of bringing a four-year degree to students across the state of Iowa, no matter their location,” said Nook. “This degree has large employability and opens many doors for graduates. We are grateful for our long partnership with DMACC and are excited to provide an accessible education to Des Moines-based students through this innovative program.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds attended Wednesday’s announcement and praised the new agreement for its potential to provide access to higher education.

“This partnership is a tremendous example of what’s possible when our leaders in higher education share a passion for delivering quality, post-secondary education to all Iowans,” Reynolds said. “UNI at DMACC’s Urban Campus will open doors that too often are closed by the realities of life and the daily demands that can challenge the pursuit of higher education.”

Many of DMACC Urban students are placebound and not able to relocate to continue their education. DMACC Urban is the first public majority-minority college campus in Iowa, with a 52% percent population of students of color, and the average age of its student body is 28. This partnership will allow these students to gain the advantages of a four-year degree without having to leave their jobs, families and communities.

Although having a physical location at DMACC in Des Moines will be new for UNI, this isn’t the first time the schools have partnered to provide continuing education to community college students. UNI has had a partnership in teacher education with DMACC on the college’s Carroll campus for more than 20 years, and also offers the 2+2 program in teacher education to DMACC Boone and Ankeny students. More than 300 students have graduated from these 2+2 programs since 1995.

“This announcement offers a valuable, new resource for our students and the DMACC Urban Campus,” said Denson. “The collaboration between our two outstanding institutions underscores the strong commitment we have to better serve the students in and around the Urban Core of Des Moines and will provide our students with a high-quality and affordable path to become well-rounded and capable graduates who will be ready to enter Iowa’s workforce.”

Details about the UNI at DMACC program and program offerings can be found at