Rising demand for online degrees answered with FIU 2.0

Image by Ed Yourdon courtesy of Creative Commons.

Maria Britos/Staff Writer

Every end of semester, students are faced with the task of trying to fit an appropriate schedule for the upcoming semester. As thousands of students sign up for classes, some run into the stressful situation of not getting the class they selected.

This is when an online class can come to the rescue.

The University’s online course programs have seen an increasingly higher student participation in the past few semesters.

According to Joyce Elam, dean of University College, this fall’s enrollment in online classes has increased 10 percent more than last fall and about 30,000 students are registered for at least one class.

“Students like to take online classes [and] every year, when registration opens up, there’s an open online class which provides a lot of options,” Elam said.

The University has participated in the world of online courses since 1999, when according to Elam, the University opened its first online class. Recently, more and more students are leaning towards the online option.

“It gives you the ability to make your own school schedule and it’s an added bonus if you don’t have transportation,” said Valerie Blattner, senior hospitality management major.

According to Blattner, “you can work wherever there is internet.”

The Miami Herald argued on a recent article that these online courses may not be the right fit for every student and some may seem less engaged with the load work.

This is why the University has launched for the first time this semester its first fully-online undergraduate degree program.

Elam said the program is called FIU 2.0 and is offering seven online degree programs, which include business administration, early childhood education, recreational therapy, psychology, criminal justice, hospitality management, communication arts, and recreational and sports management.

The program is geared towards students who normally can’t or don’t want to commute to campus every week. However, the catch is that those who register for the program must be fully committed to it and are not allowed to take the traditional face-to-face classes.

“The online department is definitely growing and more degrees will be added,” said Catalina Fernandez, junior criminal justice major, who works as the course developer for the FIU Online office.

The number of students already signed up for the fully online courses is about 270, according to Elam.

“We expect by the end of this year and next fall that we’ll have at least a thousand [students more],” said Elam.

Elam said competition for this program is high.

With the University of Florida’s online-only degree programs launching next spring 2014 and other for-profit and private universities following suit, the University is planning on offering more degrees to meet rising student demand.

“The more degree programs that we’re able to offer, the more likely we would be able to meet the needs of students,” said Elam about its marketing strategy to recruit online students.

Advertising is a major part of recruitment for this program and the greatest targets are transfer students coming from community colleges such as Miami-Dade College or Broward College. But there are also students transferring from other universities.

Surprisingly, the fees for the online degree programs are a lot less than traditional University tuition.

Because students are not physically attending campus, the athletic, parking and health fees are not included, thus making it more affordable for students.

“If you go online, the cost of switching [to online classes] is not all that much,” said Elam. “It takes a lot of effort to move to campus or off-campus, but if you’re a fully online student, it’s easier.”


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