The first priority of UNCW’s strategic plan is to “attract and retain high-quality, diverse students” by ensuring that “a UNCW education is accessible and affordable to the sons and daughters of North Carolina.”
Access to education is always on our minds as we consider new programs and curriculum, because many times accessibility can make all the difference in completing a program or making the decision to pursue an advanced degree.
Distance education and online programs are the answer for many students, particularly non-traditional students. Tuition costs, location and professional and personal commitments often derail a student’s educational aspirations, but online programs can be a way to overcome these obstacles.
UNCW is working hard to meet the changing needs of students by offering more opportunities for distance education at the graduate level. Earlier this year, the university’s online programs were recognized as the sixth best in North Carolina by Bestcolleges.com.
Distance education includes a variety of instructional methods. Some programs are entirely online, with no on-campus meetings, while hybrid courses have a few face-to-face hours and include an on-campus component. The goal is to make courses accessible for individuals that cannot accommodate a traditional class schedule and, in doing so, make earning an advanced degree a reality for more students.
The College of Arts and Sciences offers three online master’s degree programs: M.S. Chemistry, M.A. Liberal Studies and M.A History for Educators.
The online Master of Science program in chemistry is ideal for employed students. All courses are online, enabling students to work at their own pace at a time that is convenient for them, from any location; there is no on-campus requirement.
The Graduate Liberal Studies program can also be completed online, allowing students to earn a M.A. degree or a Post-Master’s Certificate in the same timeframe as a traditional classroom program.
UNCW’s Master of History program is ranked first in the nation by BestColleges.com and GradSource, and is tenth on a list compiled by the web-based College Affordability Guide. The program is designed for professional educators and consists of both online courses and two on-campus summer institutes.
By offering students alternative paths to pursue their education and increased flexibility, UNCW is ensuring higher education remains accessible, while at the same time helping to strengthen the region’s workforce. The community benefits from employees with specialized skill sets developed at the graduate level, and earning an advanced degree can increase employment opportunities and make graduates more competitive in today’s job market.
Student-focused education is one of the university’s core values. We are guided by a “commitment to put student success at the center of everything we do.” That commitment extends to all UNCW students, including those pursing degrees off-campus.
Aswani Volety, Ph.D., is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and a professor in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology. Volety earned a Ph.D. in marine science from the College of William & Mary, and a master’s and a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Andhra University. The College of Arts and Sciences is UNCW’s largest academic unit, employing over 450 full-time and 150 part-time faculty members and awarding approximately three quarters of the university’s academic credits. Volety serves as the chief academic, fiscal and administrative officer of the college, which is responsible for educating students across the arts, sciences, humanities and social sciences, and includes the UNCW Center for Marine Science. Volety is also the current president of the Southern Association of Marine Labs.To learn more about the UNCW College of Arts and Sciences, visit www.uncw.edu/cas. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].
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