University of North Carolina Online Puts Degree Programs Within Reach

Joni Worthington, UNC General Administration
June 07, 2007

CHAPEL HILL -- Responding to growing statewide demand for affordable access to quality higher education, the University of North Carolina system is launching the University of North Carolina Online, a central website that provides convenient one-stop access to more than 130 online degree, certificate, and licensure programs offered by the 16 UNC campuses. This vast collection of online UNC degree programs and courses-which can be found at one of the largest available anywhere in the United States. The official launch date for the new website is July 1, 2007. The University of North Carolina Online takes full advantage of new technologies that have allowed UNC campuses to expand access to students, working adults, and others in all parts of the state who need the flexibility and convenience that online education provides. The new searchable website lists more than 1,000 online courses that are available to qualified students for the fall 2007 semester. The website also offers special sections with information specifically tailored for community college students and military personnel and their dependents based in North Carolina. Initially,UNC campuses will collectively offer over 90 fully online degree programs (35 baccalaureate completion, 55 master's, 2 doctoral) and more than 40 online certificate and licensure programs. Programs and courses in high-need fields such as education, nursing, business, technology, and the health sciences are well represented. Fifteen of UNC's 16 university campuses currently offer online options, and all are expected to in the future. "Young people and working adults all across North Carolina know they need more education to compete and win in a knowledge-based global economy," said UNC President Erskine Bowles, "and they want a degree that means something from established universities they know and trust. In the best tradition of our public University, the University of North Carolina Online stands for access and affordability. It stands for academic quality. And it stands for opportunity." UNC campuses make every effort to ensure that the quality of online offerings is as high or higher than comparable face-to-face offerings. All UNC campuses are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which requires that online offerings be similar in quality to residential offerings. The University of North Carolina Online website will direct prospective students to desired online programs available University-wide, and students will enroll in programs or courses through the campus of their choice. Degrees earned by enrolled students will be awarded by the campus offering the program. Demand for online UNC degree offerings has grown exponentially in recent years, driven in large part by older, working students who do not live within commuting distance of a UNC campus. While early market research suggests that the heaviest users of the University of North Carolina Online will be students aged 21-44, UNC campuses are exploring expanding online offerings as one strategy to serve the additional 80,000 students projected to enroll on the campuses by the end of the next decade.