JANESVILLE, Wis. -

Starting this fall, University of Wisconsin- Rock County students will be able to earn a four-year degree without going far from home.

That's great news for students like Rhiannon Gomez.

Gomez is a work study student at UW-Rock County who is advancing closer to earning a four- year degree.

She is one of several students interested in the college's new Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree program.

"It would be really convenient, especially for returning adult students like myself, students with families," said Gomez. "It would be really nice, it would give them the option of getting a four-year degree without having to go somewhere else."

Dean Carmen Wilson says the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree is designed for adults looking to complete a degree to further their career.

She's anticipating about 25 UW-Rock County students will enroll in the program during its first year.

"It's currently being offered on six of the thirteen college campuses, eventually it will be offered on all of the campuses," said Wilson. "So it will be a statewide opportunity that will increase the degree holders in the state of Wisconsin."

Dean Wilson said the degree focuses on skills employers are looking for including critical thinking, creative writing, and understanding how to work with diverse groups of people.

She said those skills can be applied towards any professional career.

"There's a professional experience component where students will do service learning projects, complete internships, and really learn those soft skills of what it takes to be a professional," said Wilson.

After a hiatus of more than a decade, Gomez is excited to be back in school.

The Beloit native is optimistic that a college degree will help her land her dream job.

"I'm going to be studying some sociology and psychology and philosophy and working with the human animal interaction, so I'm hoping to do something like that with a non-profit," said Gomez. "I'd like to get into something working with animals."

The 60-credit degree is offered through a partnership with UW-Platteville.

Students can begin enrolling now and the program will start in the fall of 2013.