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Business school to offer distance degree

BY HEATHER EDELMAN | MARCH 25, 2011 7:20 AM

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More people interested in pursuing business degrees will be able to next fall — without ever setting foot in a classroom.

The University of Iowa Tippie College of Business will offer a new online program that will give Iowans the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in business management.

“There are numerous Iowans who would love to earn a Tippie College of Business degree but who are geographically committed to their local areas for various reasons and thus cannot move to Iowa City to pursue the degree,” said William Hunter, the dean of the business school.

Officials predict they’ll see individuals applying for this online program who work full-time and are slightly older than the typical UI undergraduate.

Those applying to the program have to meet the same admission requirements as students who are seeking to transfer to the business college, said Lon Moeller, the associate dean of the undergraduate business program.

Standard admission to the business school for students who have earned at least 60 semester hours of credit requires the completion of six prerequisite courses, receiving no grade lower than a C, according to the school’s website.

If admitted, the student will then take his or her last two years of course work in the online program to earn a business degree.

The cost of instruction for online courses will be covered in part by participants’ tuition, Hunter said.

The primary costs associated with this program involve the time and energy of faculty who have to convert their traditional courses to the online format using the UI’s existing distance-education technology.

Depending on the outcome of this pilot program and the demand for distance-education programs, this could be the first of many online degrees offered at the UI, Hunter said.

The online degree is part of a growing trend of online courses offered at the university. Distance education will continue to be a component in the UI’s portfolio of degree programs.

“Online programs will not replace on campus degree programs and cannot duplicate the on-campus experience,” Hunter said. “Hence, the programs will attract some students and not others depending on personal situations and tastes.”

One national expert said the trend is a positive contributor to the future of education.

“The need for professional development that draws on powerful resources often not available locally and that can create an evolutionary path toward providing real-time, ongoing, work-embedded support has encouraged the creation of online programs,” said Christopher Dede, a specialist in online learning at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

According to a study commissioned by the Department of Education, students in online learning environments performed better, on average, than those receiving in-person instruction.


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