The UofA recently added online degrees to include a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Master of Arts in Secondary Mathematics, said the vice provost for Distance Education.
Some students take only one or two online classes while other degree programs require both online and classroom components. There are degrees, however, that can be earned exclusively online. Online classes at the UofA are offered through the Global Campus, said Robert Brady, director of interdisciplinary studies.
“We have a reputation as a research university,” said Javier Reyes, vice provost for Distance Education. “To maintain that, we need to make sure that the students who are coming are high-caliber students. We must nurture the environment that gives that reputation for both on-campus and online courses.”
The UofA offers more than 350 online degree programs and there is a 50 percent chance that any student at the UofA will take a course online, Reyes said.
For the bachelor’s degree, students have the opportunity to study a subject that would not have been available otherwise. The degree is supported through the addition of multiple minors to the university’s online program, Reyes said.
To get a degree in interdisciplinary studies, students must complete coursework for three minors. One of those minors can be completed outside the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. There are six minors available online through Fulbright, and students can pick and choose the minors in which they are interested for their degree, Brady said.
“If we could get more minors, we could extend opportunities,” Brady said. “It may not come in a year or two years, but down the road, I think the program will be pretty robust, and there will be interest. Right now, there are some good minors in social work, child advocacy and Spanish.”
For the Master of Arts in Secondary Mathematics, students must complete 30 hours of courses and six hours of independent research work.
“It’s designed for mathematics teachers in high school who have certification, so it’s to improve their mathematics content,” said Bernard Madison, professor of mathematics and de facto director of the master’s degree. “The primary reason for putting it online is that the teachers have jobs, so they can’t come to campus three days a week. The program will work because teachers are committed, and when they sign up to do something like this, they will finish it.”
These online courses, along with all others, will be taught by university professors, Reyes said.
“There is nobody teaching in the online world who is not directly connected to the University of Arkansas,” Brady said.
The Global Campus went through a restructuring process a few years ago in the hopes of expanding access to students who, for various reasons, cannot come to campus but are interested in getting degrees. It was also restructured to respond to the needs of new students who are used to getting information and academic interaction through online technology. This has resulted in the expansion of both online and face-to-face instruction, Reyes said.
“Global Campus is really a support network offering a variety of services, and it is not a college itself,” said Donald Judges, interim associate vice provost for Distance Education. “What we are is a supportive, facilitative, quality-controlling and enhancing capacity of the university to provide educational technology, some of which is online.”