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Monday, May 20, 2024
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UW System launches online degree program

The University of Wisconsin System launched Wisconsin Online, a collaboration between 13 campuses offering over 200 online degrees, on Feb. 1 to increase higher education access for students who need virtual accommodations.

Wisconsin Online revamped previous virtual education efforts and combined all degree programs into one location rather than separating programs by each individual campus as was previously done, UW System officials said in a press release

“It’s a one-stop-shop that showcases the excellent online education our universities offer, and we anticipate that [Wisconsin Online] will especially appeal to adult learners and traditional-aged students who simply prefer to learn online,” Rothman said.

As of Feb. 1, 18,000 students were currently enrolled through Wisconsin Online. The program is designed for residents and nonresidents, targeting international students, military students, graduate students and transfer students in addition to undergraduate students, according to the press release.

Rothman said he hopes the program will help market the UW System nationally and internationally. 

“The Universities of Wisconsin have a great reputation around the nation and the globe, and we want to make our programs as accessible as possible,” Rothman said.

Wisconsin Online also offers non-degree programs, including individual courses, bootcamps and certificates. UW Flex is a competence-based, self-paced program that caters to different adult learning styles, according to the UW Flex website. 

Responding to job market changes

Wisconsin Online offers 10 associate, 99 bachelor’s and 95 master’s degree programs. 

Two-thirds of projected jobs in Wisconsin in 2030 with a median salary of $50,000 or more will require a college degree, according to Wisconsin Policy Forum. Although there is evidence of non degree-requiring jobs increasing, higher-paying jobs will require higher education.

The move to centralize UW System online education comes during a national student loan crisis. Over 700,000 Wisconsinites carry student loan debt, with the average amount being $32,230 per borrower, according to a 2020 report by the Student Success Through Applied Research lab. Wisconsin now holds more than $23 billion in student loan debt, according to the Badger Institute

Online degree programs have long been favorable for master’s degree students who are seeking a professional degree while working, according to U.S. News.

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Cost of attendance

Tuition for Wisconsin Online varies by degree program and campus affiliation. 

Most programs decide costs by charging per credit, typically $200-$300. Some programs charge a flat rate tuition, creating a subscription period for the student to access as much content as they can.  

Similar to in-person degrees, financial support is awarded through grants, scholarships, loans, military benefits and tuition reimbursement from employers. Tuition reimbursement favors professionals seeking additional education for their career. 

The online format allows students of all levels to receive education in the best time and format, allowing for those who need to work while attending school. In the 2021-2022 academic year, 80% of fully online UW System students were part-time students, according to the website.   

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Bryna Goeking

Bryna Goeking is an arts editor for The Daily Cardinal. She also reports on campus news. Follow her on twitter @BrynaGoeking.

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