–By Isabel Gamarra for FIU News
FIU has grown its online learning offerings to more than 100 fully online degrees, adding more than 15 degrees in the past year.
With more than 20 STEM programs at the graduate and undergraduate level, FIU Online offers new bachelors’ degrees in economics, writing and rhetoric, as well as a suite of masters’ degrees in hospitality management.
According to Inside Higher Ed, a third of all higher education students take at least one online course allowing them to meet their work and life balance needs. Currently, the majority of FIU’s online students live within a two-hour radius of the university.
For many, like Grace Melvin, a second-year undergrad, degrees and courses offered online are not optional; they are necessary for helping to balance caregiving and economic demands.
“I take the majority of my classes online because it’s convenient for me. I work and online courses offer me the ability to study on my own time to meet course deadlines,” explained Melvin. “The benefit of online courses for me is that they allow me to fulfill my personal obligations while still being able to manage the demands of earning a degree. I’m earning my degree so I can prepare for and work in a field that interests me.”
Melvin has found that online courses are helping her stay on track to graduate in four years. They also help her manage her busy work life. Melvin’s primary job is part-time, and she also works two other separate jobs to pick up where her financial aid leaves off. Melvin hopes to be accepted into the fully online bachelor’s degree program in computer science.
“We have been working hard to make available a greater number of degree options to provide the upward mobility students come to expect when they make the commitment to earning a higher education degree,” said Joseph Riquelme, assistant vice president of FIU Online. “As an organization, FIU Online continues to leverage innovative technology to develop dynamic online learning environments, even for more complex STEM programs.”
Research shows that the proportion of low-income students has risen dramatically to more than half of all college student enrollments. Despite the need for higher education in today’s market, costs and financial aid still remain a top concern for students. Many students, including those who are in lower socioeconomic standing, need to work to cover basic living expenses as well as the indirect and direct costs associated with going to college.
“Online education is meeting the needs for learners to reach career-related goals through quality education,” said Riquelme. “FIU leads the nation in Quality Matters (QM) certified courses to ensure our students are receiving the best in the industry.”
The QM process is rigorous as courses are peer reviewed for their design aspects and the impact the course can have on learning outcomes.
– Monica Smith (FIU Online) contributed to this story.