Mars Hill and AB Tech create direct-entry admission program

Tony Floyd and Dennis King
Mars Hill University President Tony Floyd (left) and AB Tech Community College President Dennis King (right) shake hands following the signing ceremony. Photo courtesy of Mars Hill University

Press release from Mars Hill University:

AB Tech Community College graduates who want to continue their education with a bachelor’s degree now have a direct pathway to do so at Mars Hill University. Mars Hill President Tony Floyd and AB Tech President Dennis King signed paperwork this afternoon creating the Mountain Lion-Trailblazer Promise: A Direct-Entry Admission Program.

The program will streamline the process for AB Tech’s associate’s degree graduates to continue their education by pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Mars Hill. The transfer process is one that can cause headaches for students — navigating the intricacies of admissions criteria, determining which community college credits will transfer to the four-year institution, fulfilling general education requirements, and other issues which can arise when transferring.

“This agreement is paving the way for AB Tech students to have a very easy transition into Mars Hill,” said Floyd, “and for us to be here for them and to welcome them when they get their degree at AB Tech.”

AB Tech students who participate in the Mountain Lion-Trailblazer Promise will have access to information about academic programs, faculty, and staff at the Mars Hill campus who will facilitate their transition to MHU. They will be able to receive admission, financial aid, registration, and orientation communications early in the transition process, which will set them up for maximum success at both institutions.

King said more than 80 percent of AB Tech students plan to remain in Buncombe and Madison counties after completing their associate’s degrees. “So for those individuals who have lives set here, it just makes sense to take a look at local bachelor’s degree opportunities,” he said. “And that is all the more reason why we need to work as institutions to facilitate that, so when they graduate from us, they can look for a university right here in the area to get that bachelor’s degree.”

To stay eligible for the Mountain Lion-Trailblazer Promise, students will need to maintain a 2.0 grade point average, earn an associate’s degree at AB Tech in a college transfer program or in an applied program for which there is an articulation agreement with Mars Hill, and enroll at Mars Hill within one academic year after receiving their associate’s degree.

About half of AB Tech students are interested in going on to earn a bachelor’s degree, King said, “so the next step from us was to make sure those first two years of the degree fit in as seamlessly as possible with the universities to which our students transfer. This is an outstanding university, we all know that, and we know that our students will do well here when they come.”

“We welcome these students,” Floyd said. “We want them here. We have gone out this year with the Local Lion Promise and different things that we’re doing to reach out in this [western North Carolina] area. So this is a perfect fit for us.”

Students interested in the Mountain Lion-Trailblazer Promise may contact Kara Mugrage, transfer admissions counselor at Mars Hill University, at or (828) 689-1206; or Steven Heulett, coordinator of AB Tech’s Transfer Advising Center, at or (828) 398-7184.

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