Online education has grown up over the last decade. It has become a staple at many of the traditional universities and colleges today, public and private. Distance learning is no longer solely the province of the for-profit colleges; it’s likely that you can find a public school in your state offering online courses and in many cases, certificates and degrees.
Two elements have driven the adoption of the online platform among traditional schools: the number of students who can enroll in the class isn’t limited by the number of chairs in the classroom, and the number of students who are adults returning to school for an academic retrofit has increased dramatically. Public universities in particular have attempted to adapt their catalogues as well as their educational platforms to accommodate people who want to reorient their careers. The higher education institutions in general have also found that the potential for open-ended enrollment can be an attractive financial option.
These two-year institutions have always been a viable public resource for technical and vocational training as well as for associates’ degrees. Collectively the nation’s community colleges have probably been the most adept at realigning curricula to match today’s students’ needs. Examples include Ivy Tech, which is an Indiana community college with 30 campuses throughout the state; in recent years the school has developed online degree and certificate programs in thirteen academic fields that include accounting, computer information systems, paralegal studies, and design technology. The New Jersey Virtual Community College Consortium (NJVCCC) offers courses from each of the state’s nineteen community colleges.
If you went online to consult the programs available at your local state university, the odds are pretty good that you’ll find some level of distance learning capability. It varies from state to state, with the most proactive schools having developed online “campuses” that offer online academic options from all of their affiliated campuses. UMassOnline in Massachusetts, UI Online in Illinois, and the University of North Carolina Online are prime examples.
Other schools offer online programs through their various campuses: the University of Minnesota has an impressive array of bachelor’s degrees available online from its various campuses. Some schools tend to confine their degree options to graduate programs; Penn State and the University of Florida have completion programs for bachelor’s degrees and graduate programs in selected fields.
Some private schools have weighed in heavily in the online field. Northeastern University has over sixty online degree programs including some at the associate level. Drexel University has an enormous online selection including several in engineering and the health sciences. Others like Duquesne, Villanova, St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and the University of Southern California have selected academic options. The Engineering Department at Stanford developed Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE) to offer engineering classes worldwide.
These are examples of online offerings from traditional institutions; they are a small sampling of what is available today. The universities have enrollment standards, so acceptance is not automatic – but in the case of state institutions you can still take advantage of the (relatively) reasonable tuition rates available to in-state residents.
Bob Hartzell has been writing for five years about education, business, budgets, and other life essentials on a variety of websites. He writes steadily on the changes in collegiate goals, having published multiple articles on undergraduate education and online graduate programs.