In the decade since the explosive growth of the internet, nearly every industry has been affected, including education. Major universities as well as local community colleges now offer a myriad of classes available to students online, with some offering entire degrees that can be completed via the computer. With programs such as Blackboard and Angel, universities are able to offer all of the resources, and more, through easy to use interfaces that even those who are ill at ease with a computer can easily use.
With the advent of the internet, the number of for-profit online schools has grown exponentially, increasing even further the number of programs available to those who wish to complete their education completely through the computer. Online education is no longer just for universities anymore – charter and other public-school alternatives are now offered through online learning, and public schools as well are now utilized the Virtual Classroom to offer their students highly specialized classes, without having to add additional, and expensive, staff.
Growing demand for top schools to “go online”
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, John Chubb and Terry Moe hail the new Harvard-MIT initiative, edX, a $60 million partnership that aims to reach millions of new international students in India, China and around the globe with the leaders of these two prestigious Cambridge talking of the “’revolutionary’ potential of online learning, hailing it as the ‘single biggest change in education since the printing press.’”
Chubb and Moe also point out some of the major drawbacks pointed out by university leaders of edX: the coursework would not lead to a MIT or Harvard degree, the courses are free and prepared by some of the best professors in the nation, but there is neither revenue stream nor a business plan that will sustain it. Stanford is similarly having the same problem, how to maintain the elite and selective nature of the schools while simultaneously offering free courses anyone can take.
“Online programs are still mostly seen as the purview of for-profit schools, like the University of Phoenix and Capella University,” with schools such as UNC, Northeastern, Columbia, and Northwestern trying their hardest to expand into the online education realm offering their degrees to students unable to attend a traditional brick and mortar school.
Hybrid programs, which entail a mix of online education and in-class education have also become more popular, with Bill Boulding, deputy dean at Duke, saying that “the school’s hybrid program appeals to internationally based professionals who don’t want to relocate to rural North Carolina for two years but want a Duke education.”
Less money, same quality education
Online education offers a less-expensive means of getting a college degree, while also offering flexibility that many working adults require. In many cases people who otherwise would be unable to attend a traditional school, whether due to cost, job or family obligations, or the distance between where a person lives and the school they would like to attend, online learning offers them a chance to receive the education that is required to earn a living in today’s global society. Online education also offers a higher education to those living in developing nations which have limited universities with prohibitively high costs, such as India and China.
The availability of high-quality, well-known graduate programs have also increased over the years with schools demanding admissions standards similar to that of their brick and mortar schools. Schools like UNC, Temple, Penn State, and the University of Florida have carefully instated extensive graduate programs, such as MBA’s, that can be completed entirely online, allowing professionals such as Jamie DeMaria, an executive director for Medscape, a part of WebMD, to attend a well-known program. He believes there are no prestigious programs available near his hometown, thus forcing him to look online, and while the cost for UNC’s program is still high at $89,000 for the two year program, it is still cheaper than the typical $98,000 price tag charged for out-of state students. By attending UNC online, he is able to further his education by getting an advanced degree while maintaining his employment with the hopes of rising up through the company following graduation.
Top Five Online Programs
Perhaps the most well known online school, this for-profit university has an annual tuition ranging from $10,200 for an associate’s degree, to $14,800 for a bachelor’s degree, and $28,000 for a MBA and $93,000 for a P.hD in Psychology significantly less than traditional brick and mortar schools. Phoenix also has a special tuition program specifically designed for those who have served in the military, with a more than 50% discount on the per-credit cost. With a wide range of course offerings, at Phoenix there is something for everyone, from a liberal arts course of study, to a respected criminal justice program, Phoenix has developed its program to appeal to a wide audience.
The most well known non-profit online university is Western Governors University, which offers affordable bachelors and master’s degrees. Terms at Western Governors are longer than traditional schools, totaling six months of education, and are significantly less expensive. The teachers program is only $5780, comparable to many smaller state-run schools which might not be easily accessible to students. With four colleges: WGU Teacher’s College, College of Business, College of Information and Technology, and College of Health Professionals, WGU offers a wide range of majors and minors, as well as affordable graduate programs to further advance the careers of working adults.
Northeastern University, located in Boston Massachusetts, offers more than 60 online degree programs, ranging from associates all the way through the doctorate level and certificate programs. The wide ranges of offerings include some popular majors such as: finance and accounting, management, human resources, liberal arts, and psychology. With five associate programs, 19 bachelors programs, 21 masters programs, one doctorate program, and 19 certificate programs, in 35 disciplines, it would be difficult for most students to find something they did not desire to study. Tuition rivals that of any brick and mortar university, with an annual undergraduate degree tuition totaling about $13,500 per year.
UCSF is included in this list, as it was named the most trusted university in protecting online businesses from fraud and abuse by Iovation, the Device Reputation Authority. Iovation analyzed online transactions and found that UCSF had “the lowest percentage of fraudulent transitions originated,” which in today’s high-tech world where fraud runs rampant is a high honor levied upon the cash-strapped University of California education system. UCSF is a professional graduate school, offering masters, doctorates, medical degrees, and continuing education, limiting enrollment to highly qualified candidates. The School of Medicine at UCSF offers a large selection of online continuing education coursework, vital to the practicing physician to remain up to date on the newest technologies, techniques, and advancements.
UNC online offers 280 programs of study online, from bachelor’s degrees and licensure to certificates and masters programs. UNC’s online program links together the offerings of all 16 UNC schools in one easy to use location. The wide range of program offerings (26 total to choose from) brings online learning to anyone who desires it, with a wide breadth of areas to study. UNCs in-state tuition rates are incredible reasonable, with annual tuition for a student enrolled in 10 credits only $2560, while out of state tuition is a much higher $11,020 per year. UNCs MBA@UNC program fees have just been increased to $91,225 for the entirety of the program, which is completed in 18-36 months. The two year full-time MBA program at UNCs location in Chapel Hill totals $52,770 for in-state students and $100,480 for out of state students for the entire duration of the program, making the online option for out-of state students much more attractive.