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A four-year degree? Entirely online? You betcha

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Kayla Bunge
December 8, 2008
— For some displaced autoworkers and others thrown out of work, the GM plant closing could be a blessing in disguise—an opportunity for adults who had known only one job to acquire new skills.

But going back to school means making a significant lifestyle change.


What if I’m too old? What if I’m not smart enough? What if I don’t have time?


The online bachelor of business administration degree program at UW-Whitewater might be the answer, said Jan Olson, assistant dean of the College of Business and Economics.


The program, launched in 2006, is designed primarily for non-traditional students who have two-year degrees and want four-year degrees, she said.


“There are people who can go out and get good jobs and … be successful without a (four-year) degree,” Olson said. “But if you want to move up, someone’s going to ask about a degree.”


The online degree program offers the junior- and senior-level courses required for a general business major, she said. The classes have the same content and rigor as on-campus classes but also provide the flexibility of taking the classes when it’s convenient, she said.


To be eligible for the online degree program, students must have completed 54 or more credits and have completed a set of basic courses.


Students who might not meet those requirements have the option of completing lower-level courses at other institutions, including through the UW Colleges online degree program.


“If a student came to us with a lot of courses but hadn’t had any accounting or economics courses, for example, we would refer them to that program if they want to do it online,” Olson said.


To be eligible for the online degree program, students also must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.8 or better.


Students who fall short of the requirement could have their previous grade point averages essentially erased under a forgiveness policy for students who have gaps of five or more years in their college educations.


“For some people, that grade point average might be a little scary,” Olson said.


Although it’s convenient, the online degree program carries a higher price tag: $360 for an online business credit compared to $257 for an on-campus business credit.


Olson said prospective students should thoroughly weigh the extra cost against the convenience of taking courses online. She said people who live in Janesville, for example, might decide it’s worth it to attend classes at UW-Whitewater rather than taking them online.


The online degree program is only for a general business major.


People who want different business majors—accounting, marketing or human resources are the most popular—would have to take the required courses on campus because they aren’t offered online, Olson said.


All business majors require several core courses, so it’s possible to “mix and match” online and on-campus courses to meet those requirements, she said.


“But when it gets into (the specific courses required for) the major, they need to be able to come to campus,” Olson said.


However, the general business major provides a good educational foundation for a majority of people, she said.


“It’s general, so it works for a lot of people,” Olson said.


Olson anticipates a boost in enrollment in the online degree program because of the number of displaced workers who could be seeking four-year degrees.


She said there likely will be an increase in overall university enrollment, too.


“I would also anticipate—just simply because of location—that we’ll see those people in our face-to-face classes as well.”


TO LEARN MORE
For more information about the online bachelor of business administration degree program at UW-Whitewater, call (262) 472-4900 or toll-free 1-866-584-6055, e-mail onlinebba@uww.edu or go to www.uww.edu/cobe/distance/onlinebba.

Prospective students should contact the university before applying for the program to ensure they have fulfilled the requirements for admission.



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