Online courses, shorter degree proposed by SUNY

Posted at: 01/15/2013 5:55 PM
Updated at: 01/15/2013 6:03 PM
By: Beth Wurtmann

ALBANY - Sandra Barkevich was gearing up for next semester on Tuesday, and it won't be in a traditional classroom.

She's taking courses online for a degree in business management and economics at Empire State College.

"The only way with a full time job and having kids and a family is to go to school online," Barkevich said.

In a State of the University address that included video and graphics, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said expanding online learning is a top priority. She wants 100,000 students across the state to take advantage of computer-based courses, with the goal of adding ten online bachelor degrees in high needs career fields.

"With online we can get kids connected to courses that may not be offered the same semester they want on their campus but they can borrow, and it will count toward their degree," Zimpher said.

Zimpher said SUNY will also offer a new three-year-degree to give students savings on tuition and ultimately on their college debt. And to connect students to the business world to get them jobs and grow the economy.

"It clearly has to be a mix the online provides opportunity for some students in resident to take courses online and provides opportunities to shorten that time to graduation," said Dr. Robert Jones, the new University at Albany President.

For Sandra Barkevich, the push for online education makes sense. Not only can she try to get credit for college level life experiences, she's able to fit her education into a lifestyle around her work and family.

Zimpher set a goal that by the year 2015, twenty-five-percent of students will complete an undergraduate degree in three years.