Online Degree Programs May Change the Future of Higher Education

The more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States offer many different educational experiences.

For hundreds of years, young people have come to these schools to learn new things and find direction in life. But now, with the help of technology, the way knowledge passes from teachers to their students is changing.

In February 2016, the Babson Survey Research Group reported that 28 percent of all U.S. college students took at least one class over the internet. The research group, part of Babson College in Massachusetts, studies all levels of education across the country.

Yet, having students take a few online classes during their college years is not the only change technology is driving.

Many U.S. colleges and universities now offer full degree programs online. This opens up all kinds of possibilities for students around the world.

One such student, Leanne from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, is using an online degree program to meet her needs. The 30-year-old asked VOA not to share her last name as she has yet to complete her studies.

In 2012, Leanne earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing through a traditional study program at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. She then started working as a nurse in the Washington, DC area.

After a few years, Leanne decided she wanted to earn a master’s degree to help further her career in medicine. However, she did not want to move to another city to continue her education, as can often be the case for students. Her job and her husband were in Washington, and she only wanted to study part-time. So, Leanne decided to look for an online program.

"There were a lot of good, appealing things about doing it online -- it allowed me to work full-time and fit the schoolwork into my schedule, which often made it a lot more financially feasible. And … the nurse practitioner program, they have nationally gone … towards being online, to the point where it’s actually very difficult to find a program that was in person."

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