MU will invest $2.5M in more online degrees

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The University of Missouri-Columbia has announced plans to invest $2.5 million to expand the number of degrees students can earn online.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/Nz87AP) reported that the university said this week that it will match that investment next year if the effort goes well.

Currently, students can complete 45 mostly master’s level degrees online. Plans call for the addition of 15 degrees by 2014.

Jim Spain, the interim vice provost for e-learning, said the university plans to award grants worth up to $250,000. Campus departments can use the money to pay for startup costs.

Spain said it’s too soon to say which new degrees will be offered in the online format.

“We’re really waiting to see what programs have interest,” Spain said.

Online enrollment hit 9,150 students last year, more than double the 4,000 students who enrolled in 2005, Spain said.

The growth comes as the school steadily adds to its portfolio of online courses, and students and professors grow more comfortable with the format.

“As they become more familiar and confident with student outcomes, we are seeing more faculty express interest,” Spain said.

Spain said faculty would retain the same control over subject matter and content as they did over their traditional classrooms.

“All we are trying to do is invest in the programs they are interested in delivering in this online format,” Spain said.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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