University’s first fully online major
Madeline Scharf – Reporter
The first completely online bachelor’s degree will be offered this fall. The sports management degree will be provided with both on-campus and online options.
“I act as a liaison between each department and the Board of Regents,” said Trudy Milburn, the associate vice president for academic affairs, who has played a key role in establishing the online degree.
The Board of Regents oversees many aspects of Connecticut higher education. Among their various responsibilities, they control the construction and formation of new degrees.
James MacGregor, a faculty athletics representative, said he was working when sports management was first offered as a degree. It was originally only supposed to be available in-person.
“Back when we were getting the sports management degree licensed and accredited in 2014 and former regent board member Larry DiNardo, who has since passed away, suggested we should also license it for an online delivery as well,” said MacGregor.
At that time, MacGregor and others trying to get the degree running virtually did not do much to pursue it. But now the sports management degree is to be the first online bachelor’s program at Southern.
To earn a degree, classes outside of one’s specific major must also be taken. These are referred to as the Liberal Education Program credits, or LEP.
edits, or LEP. LEP Director of Advisement and Policy, Braxton Carrigan, also played a major role in putting together ways for students to earn a sports management degree online. “I ensure that there will be courses offered on-line in each area of the LEP for these potential on-line degree students,” said Carrigan.
Upon registering, students are offered many options for classes in different subjects and studies that will meet requirements.
With the online degree, however, there are limitations to this. “Not all courses will be offered in an on-line modality,” said Carrigan. Despite the limited options, Carrigan assures there will be enough courses available so that the degree can be completed all online.
With the onset of the pandemic, many classes have been moved online. The transition seems to be positive for this upcoming online degree. “Faculty are now more comfortable with teaching online,” said MacGregor. “They now feel more confident delivering content online.”
Regarding how popular an all online degree will be, MacGregor said “I believe there is a demand, though it is hard to say as Southern does not have a benchmark.” MacGregor has looked at other colleges in the New England area which have had an online presence and sensed a potential market. However, he said the launch “won’t be without trial and error.”
The start of an entirely online degree creates many options for students. “It is important for students to have choices,” said Milburn. With the added option of online classes, students now have more ways to gain their education.
The options extend to those who previously may not have been able to get a degree. “Students from anywhere can now achieve the 120 credits to gain a degree,” said MacGregor. This means more options for those unable to travel and out of state students who do not wish to move away.
There is great excitement for the start of this program. Milburn said she believes all online classes will go well: “we have several online master’s and doctoral degrees and they have been well received by students.”