Online Degrees to Be Offered by University of South Carolina
September 25th, 2012
By Jacqueline Foster, Editor
The University of South Carolina, a nationally-ranked research university located in Columbia, S.C., will soon expand its online bachelor’s degree program options, giving students more choices for earning a degree from home, according to the Associated Press. The online programs are better described as bachelor’s degree completion programs, as they require students to have completed a minimum of 60 credits before they are eligible to enroll, which is the equivalent of finishing their first two years of college, the article explains. The university will offer the new online bachelor’s programs through a new effort called Palmetto College.
USC currently only offers one online degree completion program — the Bachelor of Liberal Studies — a multidisciplinary degree that allows students to take courses in two major disciplines and one cognate discipline. Next fall, however, program offerings will expand to include online bachelor’s degree programs in a wider variety of areas, including business, criminal justice, elementary education, nursing, and organizational leadership, the article noted. These online programs are expected to target adult students who wish to earn a four-year degree to further their career prospects, but who are unable to attend classes at one of USC’s four-year institutions due to scheduling conflicts with work and other responsibilities. The degree programs would be open both to students who have completed course work at a USC campus, and those who have completed course work elsewhere at community colleges and technical schools.
When Palmetto College launches next year, it is expected to have fewer than 500 students, but USC officials project that the online degree programs could draw in thousands of students over time who are in need of the flexibility that online education provides, the article explained. Enrollment growth could stem from the program being a cheaper alternative to for-profit higher education institutions, which often have higher tuition rates than public institutions. The college was funded in large part by a $5 million allocation that USC received from the state budget. Most of that funding was utilized to adapt traditional courses to an online format.
Recent higher education job postings have revealed that USC is currently seeking a chancellor to oversee Palmetto College and its online degree completion programs. At present, USC offers a limited selection of online courses for credit and for professional education, as well as its liberal studies degree.