Reported By: Laura Christmas
Earning a bachelor's degree, without leaving home. You've likely heard of places like the University of Phoenix that offer online classes. Now, you can soon add the University of Florida to that list. Governor Rick Scott's signature on Senate Bill 1076 means the University of Florida is getting ten million dollars and a challenge to put five bachelor degrees online.
UF spokesperson Janine Sikes says UF is the only state university to get this offer from the state legislature. "The University of Florida is the only university that meets all twelve criteria which include graduation rates, freshmen retention rates, research dollars et cetera."
It gets five million dollars from the state to each year to keep the program running. As for how much UF has to pay, Sikes says it's too early to tell.
For right now the university is only going to put up five degrees in criminology and law, business, health education, sports management, and environmental management. While that may not seem like much to handle, Assistant Provost Andy McCollough says it's going to be tough. "It is a major undertaking that is specified by the legislature, that it be up and running by January of next year."
A major undertaking with a few months to do it, but officials say they have a good foundation to get started. UF is one of around sixty universities in the world invited to participate in Coursera, which is a massive, unaccredited, online learning forum for anyone to use.
It's free for students to use it, but it costs UF about 25 thousand dollars to produce one class and UF offers several. Officials say so far more than one hundred thousand dollars went to that free forum. However, there's a method behind that course of action, and McCollough says it has Governor Scott's challenge of online bachelor degrees behind it. "And we have some experience that we didn't have before. So that means as we go online in any setting, undergraduate, graduate, we should know how to do it even better than we used to."
They say they'll continue to work in Coursera. Within the next few years officials say they hope to have a full list of online undergraduate degrees.