What Format are the Courses in Ascend?

Continuing our blog series on some of the most frequently asked questions about Ascend (if you’d like to see the full series of FAQ blog posts, click here), we get a lot of questions about how the different courses we offer are structured.

There are a lot of different formats for online courses: fully live (weekly lectures over a real-time video call with an instructor), self-paced (all lectures, materials, and exams can be taken whenever you’d like), or a hybrid format that combines elements of both.

In Unbound’s Ascend program, we use a bit of all three: some are live, some are self-paced, and some are a hybrid that incorporates recorded lectures alongside deadlines. Read on for a full breakdown.

General Education Courses

If your student wants to pursue college credit through Ascend, they’ll have a wide range of courses to choose from that will count towards their general education credits for their degree. They can choose to take something more generic, such as Critical Thinking, or they can look to choose something more related to their interests.

These accredited courses are facilitated through our partner universities, such as Bryan College. They are held fully online, without any live or in-person components. Some of these courses have quizzes and tests with regular deadlines, to help with accountability. This format allows students to stay flexible with their schedules, so that they can stay involved in their work, church, and family while taking their courses.

Signature Leadership Courses

We also include the Signature Leadership Courses, instructed by Dr Jeff Myers of Summit Ministries, in every student’s Ascend year. There are three of these courses, which culminate in the Capstone event held in Colorado every spring, where students get to hear from Dr Myers live and in-person.

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Aside from this final live event, the leadership courses are entirely online. For each of the classes, there are weekly assignments that must be completed before their deadlines, though students are welcome to work ahead if they would like. There are also four sessions held via online calls: two live Q&A sessions with Dr Myers, and two sessions where students have guided Socratic Dialogues. All four are required.

Life Courses

Unbound also integrates several exclusive courses into Ascend that are designed to help students learn core skills in a practical way; we call them life courses.

Navigate is our life-purpose course, designed to help young adults find their life purpose, and de-stress about making big life decisions. Click here to learn more about it. Navigate is almost entirely self-paced, allowing students to complete the assignments at any point during the 16-week class period. There is one exception: there are two live Q&A sessions that are held with the course instructors.

If students choose to enroll for a second year, they have the opportunity to take several more life courses: Concepts of Christianity and Cultural Engagement, Tactical Communications, and Financial Advantage. Each of these courses is taught live: students have scheduled online classes with their instructor, and have the opportunity to engage with fellow students.


Ascend is designed to be an alternative to a traditional college education, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t recognize the value of courses. Taking higher education classes helps students to learn how to study effectively, quickly and effectively mastering complicated information (also known as QEMCI, an acronym we love in Unbound).

However, courses are just a part of the Ascend program. We use project-based education for a reason: we firmly believe that the best learning is accomplished by doing, which is why we also incorporate projects, live events, and teams into Ascend, alongside the courses. Each of these components work together to train young adults to lead full, thriving lives for the kingdom of God.

Want to learn more about Ascend and see if it could be the right fit for your student? Schedule a free consultation with our admissions team. Click here to schedule now.