Online degrees are a way for non-traditional students to get a college education, but students seeking an online degree at the University of Cincinnati may notice a lack of options in the College of Arts & Sciences.
A&S, UC’s largest college, is one of four colleges to not offer any online programs, according to the 2012 UC Student Fact Book. College-Conservatory of Music, the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, and the College of Law currently offer no online programs.
“You might say that we’re playing catch up with some of the other colleges,” said Joanna Mitro, associate dean for undergraduate affairs. “But you have to realize those other colleges are professional colleges and a lot of their students are working adults.”
The College of Nursing and the College of Education Criminal Justice and Human Services offer the largest number of online programs.
“We saw this as where higher education was moving,” said Laura Dell, academic director of teacher licensure and online learning in the school of education at UC. “It was not a what if, but a when.”
Dell has worked in online higher education for 14 years. In that time, the number of online courses and programs at American universities has increased drastically, she said.
Other UC colleges and universities from across the country typically come to CECH seeking advice for constructing online programs.
“I actually met with officials from Louisiana State University, it makes us more marketable,” said Luahna Carter, associate director of criminal justice distance learning.
Faculty members from A&S recently met with CECH officials to discuss their faculty member’s interaction with professors and online courses.
“There hasn’t been a systematic transition and now the college is trying to put more programs online,” Mitro said.
The psychology department in A&S is currently working to create an online program for the 2013 Fall semester. The college is also working on adding more online courses, including calculus.
Several students have contacted A&S enquiring about online opportunities within the college, Mitro said.
Many students seeking an online degree are non-traditional students.
“We offer a number of choices because our students appreciate the flexibility,” said Suzanne Perraud, associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Nursing. “It’s time to move beyond traditional teaching and I think many other colleges are getting involved.”
The College of Nursing currently offers eight distance learning programs. The Nurse Midwifery and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner master’s degree programs all went online in 2005, Perraud said.
The college offers programs online and hybrid courses that mix online and on-campus learning.
“We’re finding that the hybrid courses are very popular,” Perraud said.
CCM and DAAP both offer online courses, as does A&S, but offer no online programs. CCM currently offers two online courses and plans on adding five more for the 2013 Fall semester, said Curt Whitcare, public information officer for CCM.
Officials from DAAP did not respond in time for publication.
In Ohio, the Board of Regents — a statewide advisory board dealing with issues affecting higher education — has enacted several initiatives to bolster distance learning.
“Colleges and universities may have other initiatives that they are pursuing independently to foster distance learning, and as the Board of Regents, we encourage those endeavors that will lead to increased college completion,” said Jeff Robison, director of communications for the Ohio Board of Regents.
The board recently enacted a collaborative effort with 40 public Ohio universities offering free online tutoring. The program, Ohio eTutoring, is now available to all public and private universities in Ohio.
“Ultimately, we want more Ohio students to complete their degree in less time and for less money,” Robinson said.