As the popularity of online classes and web-based academic tools increases, educational communities aim to keep up with the digital trends.
On Sept. 29, the University of Miami opened up applications for its first fully-online degree program, UOnline. The program offers tracks for master’s degrees in finance through the School of Business Administration and sport administration through the School of Education and Human Development beginning January 2015.
The program is geared toward working professionals seeking further professional development and skill diversification. The academic programs are based on campus curricula that have been tailored and streamlined to provide flexibility without compromising the quality of education.
“The programs have the same standards as the on-the-ground programs,” said William Green, senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education. “Regular faculty members who are teaching the on-the-ground courses will be instructing UOnline courses.”
The new online courses will offer interactive learning open to prospective graduate students from around the world, whether they are a UM alumni or a new student.
Last year, a special task force co-chaired by Green and Mitsunori Ogihara of the Computer Science department was appointed to oversee the implementation of UOnline. It included representatives of the Faculty Senate, the administration and Student Government. Comprehensive surveys were conducted to assess community interest in an online program.
The UOnline program is the result of consultation between UM and Laureate Education, a worldwide online education provider based in Baltimore, Maryland. Course designers worked with UM faculty to develop the online classes.
This project marks a significant shift toward increased online learning on campus, according to Green. The goals were to expand UOnline to offer more programs in the future and that the possibility of fully-online undergraduate degrees “had to be explored,” Green said.
Junior Soha Khedkar, a double major in economics and health sector management and policy, recognizes the possibilities this program will provide.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to allow working individuals based anywhere to earn a master’s degree, and I’m excited to see it expand …” she said.
UOnline’s programs cost $43,500 for a master’s in finance and $53,700 for a master’s in sports administration. UM will offer up to 30 percent in financial assistance in the forms of tuition reduction and merit scholarships.
Online applications are currently available at online.miami.edu upon request. The programs are currently pending accreditation from Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.