BATON ROUGE – Consistent with national trends, University of Louisiana System institutions are offering more degree programs online. A combined 62 degree programs and certifications are available that make up approximately 10 percent of all UL System degree offerings. Students can choose from seven associate’s degrees, 19 bachelor’s degree, 28 master’s degrees and eight certifications.
U.S. News and World Report recently published an article called “17 Ways College Campuses Are Changing.” One of these items highlighted the growing distance-learning offerings by traditional colleges and universities.
Of the 62 distance-learning programs recognized by the Louisiana Board of Regents, 28 are completely online and 34 are a mix of online and traditional classes. A full list of online degree programs can be found at www.ulsystem.edu/onlinedegrees.
“Most of our online degree programs are relatively new and have grown exponentially to meet the demands of the changing market. Many of our students are non-traditional, trying to finish programs after taking a break from college or holding down at least one job while obtaining a degree,” said UL System President Randy Moffett.
An example is the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s Gateway to OnLine Degrees (GOLD) program that graduated its first class of nine students this month. Born and raised in Bunkie, Pam Villemarette, 26, moved to Monroe when she was 18 to attend ULM. But, when her mother suffered numerous health-related setbacks, finishing school became a secondary issue as Villemarette started working at three jobs. When the ULM GOLD program became available, she quickly signed on and dropped one of those jobs to devote time to finally finishing her education.
“If I had to work all day long and then attend an on-campus class in the same day, I don’t know if I could’ve finished,” said Villemarette.
Four UL System universities also participate in the Continuum for All Louisiana Learners, or CALL, an initiative of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) that utilizes distance-learning. CALL provides an opportunity for adult students with prior college credit to earn a degree in less time than a traditional curriculum.
Northwestern State University served as one of the program pilots and McNeese State University, Southeastern Louisiana University and ULM now participate in the six-member initiative.
“Without the CALL Program, my graduation date was at least two years away. I am extremely fortunate that McNeese became involved with the CALL initiative and provided me an opportunity to complete my degree with flexibility and ease,” said McNeese students Melissa Boutte.
Northwestern was one of the early adopters of distance-learning in Louisiana and now offers the vast majority of the state’s online degree programs.
“In the development of e-learning, we grew from offering a handful of courses to offering 35 online degree programs, three add-on certifications and 550 sections per semester. Now we are leveraging our experience in the online environment to focus on business and industry, workforce needs and the needs of adult learners in Louisiana,” said Darlene Williams, Vice President of Northwestern’s Division of Technology, Research and Economic Development. Louisiana Tech University’s electronic learning initiative, or e-learning, is called “Global_Campus.”
“If you live halfway around the world or only a few miles from campus, you can experience the academic and career benefits of many Louisiana Tech University academic and lifelong learning programs without the barriers of time, location, and even without leaving your employment,” said Louisiana Tech University President Dan Reneau.
“Whether you are interested in art, criminal justice, education, nursing or a host of other degrees and certifications, now is the time to take advantage of our online programs. With only 20 percent of Louisiana citizens holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, our universities are working to build the state’s economy one degree at a time,” said Moffett.
EIGHT UNIVERSITIES STRONG: The University of Louisiana System is the state’s largest higher education system with over 80,000 students enrolled at Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and the University of Louisiana at Monroe.