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University News | Office of Military and Veteran Services

UCM Partners with Air University Associate to Baccalaureate Cooperative to Provide Environmental, Safety, Risk Management Degree Pathways

By Jeff Murphy, January 14, 2022

Military Members Online

WARRENSBURG, MO – Members of the United States Air Force who want to further their education have two new pathways to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Environmental, Safety and Risk Management (ESRM) from the University of Central Missouri . 

These opportunities are made possible through UCM’s selection as a partner in the Air University Associate to Baccalaureate Cooperative (AU-ABC) with the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF). UCM was informed in December 2021 that its application has been accepted to add these offerings for eligible military personnel.

“This is unique in that the faculty were able to create a CAT I and CAT III pathway for this program,” said Courtney Swoboda, director of Military and Veteran Services at UCM.

With the CAT I pathway Airmen who have a CCAF Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Occupational Safety, Fire Science, Emergency Management, Public Health Technology, and Bioenvironmental Engineering Technology can complete their degree in 60 hours or less at UCM. The CAT III pathway is designed for individuals within any Air Force Specialty Code (career field). They are eligible to complete their baccalaureate degree by earning 66 hours of credit from UCM. 

These opportunities became effective this semester. Air Force members can earn their baccalaureate degree completely and conveniently online and at the active military tuition rate, which provides a savings for military members seeking undergraduate credit.

The Community College of the Air Force AU-ABC provides an opportunity to transfer credits earned toward an associate degree to a number of partner institutions nationwide that will enable them to obtain a bachelor’s degree.  Opportunities in Environmental, Safety and Risk Management follow the university’s announcement in August 2021 that it was approved to offer a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice through the AU-ABC.

“The ESRM program was designed specifically for individuals with an earned associate degree. We are very excited to provide a quality, cost-effective, degree-completion program that is regionally accredited,” said Leigh Ann Blunt, professor of safety sciences who serves as ESRM program coordinator. “We are proud to be an approved AU-ABC program and further expand the availability of this program to our members of the military.”

Blunt noted that an additional benefit of UCM’s ESRM program is that individuals who earn this degree are eligible to receive the Graduate Safety Practitioner (GSP) designation through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BSCP).

“Widely recognized, our program also positions students for opportunities to seek graduate education without limiting their options,” she added.
Recognizing the challenges of balancing military service, family and education, the online program accommodates full- and part-time students. Half-semester courses also are offered, according to Blunt.

Courtney Irvine, UCM’s site coordinator at Whiteman Air Force Base, noted that the university continues to look for opportunities to enable Air Force members to apply their CCAF credit toward a UCM degree. While UCM offers many different types of academic programs, the Bachelor of Science in Environmental, Safety and Risk Management aligns well with the needs of service members, particularly meeting the online requirements for individuals who may be mobile. With Whiteman situated less than 10 miles east of the university, UCM already offers in-person graduate classes for military personnel. By partnering with Air University and the United States Air Force, UCM is helping Airmen to maximize their military education and training and therefore achieve their educational goals more efficiently.

UCM is a Military Friendly® institution that offers a military tuition package, active duty military tuition rate, and military in-state rates. This is in addition to facilities such as the Military and Veterans Success Center, which provides computer stations, meeting space and personnel ready to service active duty military and veterans.

Individuals who want to learn more, including obtaining addition information about the AU-ABC, can check out UCM’s Military and Veterans Services website. They can also call 660-543-8776 or email



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