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Why Traditional State-led Degree Programs are Going Fully Online

written by: Daniel Brecht•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 5/19/2011

This article will help explain why traditional state universities are now offering fully-online programs to be able to compete with other universities.

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    The Future of Online Education

    Browsing the Internet, it’s very easy to see advertising of online schools and degrees being offered in virtually any subjects by both traditional and online schools. Up until a few years ago, online degrees were only seen as an alternative solution for somebody’s education. In some cases, they were perceived as scams, in other cases as the right option for working adults.

    Online education, today, is rapidly gaining reputation for the convenience that it offers to people working or otherwise committed to staying at home and caring for themselves and/or their family. It is also seen as an easy way to continue going to school without having to bear the expenses of being away from home. This is why traditional state colleges are beginning to look into the possibility of offering fully-online programs in addition to those traditional in-class ones.

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    Competitive Landscape

    State universities now recognize the need to offer degrees fully online to compete with online colleges. They understand what is ideal for the adult learner: 100% online classes.

    State colleges are also understanding that they will be able to tap in to a much larger pot of students, not only those that see distance education as the only possible way to complete their education, but also those that don’t trust or don’t recognize the value of a fully-online university.

    Traditionally, state universities had students enroll in degree programs that required them to attend lectures on campus. Over the years, as the popularity of distance education grew, these universities came to terms that they needed to offer courses online. It began with a few courses at a time that were offered online, but that was not enough to compete with institutions that offered degrees that could be completed entirely online. Many students like the flexibility of having courses offered online, so they are likely to attend those schools who meet that criterion. Nowadays, state universities fear they may lose students if they don't offer more courses or have more degree options online.

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    The Educated Choice

    What's better: A traditional state university degree program online (like Louisiana State University and Charter Oak State College) or online schools (like Walden, Kaplan, and Capella who are among the largest online education providers today)? The educated choice is to go with the school that is able to meet your educational needs.

    Tip: It is of utmost importance to research the reputation of the school's distance education program prior to enrolling and committing to a program. A simple online search or browsing through forum posts of former and current students can help.

    Need Help? Here is a handy college navigator at the National Center of Statistics where students can browse through all universities offering distance education programs by clicking on advanced options and customizing the search.

    Note: Chances are, also, that if a student already has a particular traditional school in mind, a quick look through its Web site might reveal the presence of a distance learning department or an extended campus.

    Here are two more fully online state schools...

    • Portland State University (PSU) - is a school of extended studies. It offers fully online as well as partially online courses. Additionally, courses are offered year round. Furthermore, it provides affordable education. Due to on-going changes with the school's latest tuition and fees, interested students need to check Pus's Web site.

    - PSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

    • Penn State (Online World Campus) - is a school that has a good reputation for offering high-quality online degrees. It offers 50 online degree and certificate programs. Due to different tuition costs for both degrees and certificates, interested students need to check Penn State's Web site for its tuition table that is valid for the academic year.

    - Penn State is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

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    Helpful Sources

    Portland State University (Extended Studies):

    Penn State (Online World Campus):

    U.S. University Directory:

    U.S. News and World Report (Online Education):

    U.S. News and World Report (Schools with No Distance Learning Program):

    A Guide to Online Schools: