Bilingual Undergraduate Studies for Collegiate Advancement (BUSCA)

Academic Level
Issue Area
Academic Program
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Bilingual /ESL,
College Prep


The mission of Bilingual Undergraduate Studies for Collegiate Advancement (BUSCA) is to engage students in educational programs designed to empower Latinos to be bilingual/bicultural leaders in contemporary U.S. society. BUSCA offers the unique opportunity to begin university studies with a series of intensive courses in English, a curriculum developed by a team of faculty with expertise in English language acquisition, curriculum development, and assessment. La Salle provides academic and financial advising as well as motivational counseling in Spanish for all students. The program is designed to fully meet the needs of our at-risk student population, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college, are developing their academic English, come from the lowest-performing schools in Philadelphia, and live below the poverty line.

Program Description

BUSCA began in 1993 with ten students, one staff, and four teachers. Since 1998, BUSCA has served more than 825 students and currently has 180 students and 34 faculty members. Since 2003 BUSCA classes have been taught exclusively in English, with first semester teachers focusing on ESL instruction. The program has a specialized curriculum combined with targeted support services. Upon completing their 60 credits, BUSCA graduates earn an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts, which fulfills core requirements for those continuing to bachelor’s degrees. BUSCA actively recruits students from the community by holding informational sessions and conducting outreach activities in various schools and migrant programs.


BUSCA continues to educate the next generation of Philadelphia Latino leaders successfully: 375 students have earned their associate’s degrees; many have gone on to earn their bachelors’ degrees here (88) and at other institutions. Six students have earned master’s degrees from La Salle. In January 2014, 49 students graduated from BUSCA. Of that group, 75% immediately enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program. For the past five years, BUSCA’s graduation rate has been above 50%; two years it was over 60%.