UTPA Expanding Online Degree
According the University of Texas Pan American, the typical graduate student is a professional degree program is already established in their career with family and work, which makes attending classes more ideal for the evening. The university thinks that having online degree offerings starting last fall with the Master of Business Administration will reach even more of these non traditional students. The school has been working to expand its online degree program this month with the launch of an online Master of Public Administration. MPA program director William Turk noted "The 21 students that have been admitted to the online program have exactly the same profile as the face to face students. For whatever reason, for time constraints or other physical constraints, it's a better choice than face to face."
The program offers a lot of educational opportunities to individuals, even those who are outside the Rio Grande. They are opportunities that many might not pursue otherwise if they did not have this type of educational experience. Students complete courses, which are called modules, in seven week intervals. That is around half of the length of a regular semester. Twelve students are already signed up for an introductory seminar which will focus on public administration, which is a required graduate level course for the MPA program. They include university staff, employees, workers at state agencies, and local city governments.
UTPA also announced several new online degree programs during August that would be collaborations with Dallas based academic partnerships. Having the MBA program has put the university in a group with four other UT system schools which are offering online degrees. Like other universities, UTPA is working to understand the importance of making programs that are flexible to better serve student needs. It will expand access to the university and increase the footprint in the Rio Grande Valley. The public administration instructors have also been told to take their own course in online learning – this will show them many of the elements that they will need to know before they start teaching students in their online course. It helps because it puts them into the position of the students that they will be teaching and shows them the importance of rethinking how they will showcase the key concepts in an online environment in comparison to how it would be taught if they were teaching in an actual classroom.
The online degree program is a little more expensive than the tuition for in state residents that are attending courses in the classroom. They are designed with a more flexible schedule which would allow for students to be able to take any course during the seven week term. Although the program won't have a good idea of the online courses success until after the initial year, there are many who are hopeful and optimistic about the overall effect that they may have.