For the first time, SUNY students will be able to complete a bachelor’s degree online, Zimpher announced. Three degrees in high-demand fields like information technology and health care will launch this fall, and seven more will be available in fall 2014. SUNY will be a leader in online education.
Additionally, students will be able to take online courses from any other SUNY college while earning credit and paying tuition to their home campuses.
“No institution in America – not even the for-profits – will be able to match the number of offerings and the quality of instruction,” Zimpher said. “In three years, we will enroll 100,000 degree-seeking students in Open SUNY, making us the largest public online provider of education in the nation.”
Credit for MOOCs
As part of SUNY’s online efforts, top professors will begin to provide “massive open online courses.” Many of the country’s most prestigious universities present such courses, which are online for free with the aim of extending access to education. Generally, these courses are not credit bearing.
The system will develop a system of assessing higher-learning experiences, so students who’ve taken some courses, such as free courses online from accredited institutions, can get credit for their work.
Credit for internships
SUNY will also focus on providing experiential education to students — even those enrolled only in online courses — helping them to secure internships, research or volunteer opportunities during their studies. These experiences will be recorded on an extracurricular transcript and be designated on their diplomas.
Encouraging early graduation as a way for students to save money
“We are committed to the idea that students should have the choice to graduate in three years,” she said during the speech. “We believe that by 2015, 25 percent of SUNY students will be able to do this.”…
“It allows students to reduce their student loans. It reduces their tuition because they’re only paying three years of tuition instead of four,” Stenger said. “The students can stay and get their master’s degree in an accelerated fashion and have a little extra value at the same time.”
Even assuming that online courses will cost the same as classroom courses, online students should be able to save money on transportation, housing, and other costs.
My future online scholar?
Even though she’s never taken an online course*, my high school daughter has lately mentioned that she might be interested in attending an online college. I’m not completely sure why she’s interested and I’m not sold on the idea, but it looks as if SUNY might soon be able to accommodate her.
In related news, a hip hop music video promoting the SUNY system will be released to the public next month.
* I was recently told that our local high school expressly forbids students from taking any online course for credit, a rule that also applies to staff. At a state level, New York does allow schools to grant credit for online courses.