Western to expand online classes

Steven Barnum , News editor

Western Illinois University was recently recognized for its opportunities in onlinedegree programs.

U.S. News and World Report studied developed a list of which colleges that offer what they consider to be the strongest online programs. The study was based on factors like variety of selection, level of education and opportunity. U.S. News and World Report strives to provide useful information that would allow those seeking to further their education to make the best decision.

Macomb’s university ranked 76 out of 348 in the United States, putting its onlinedegree program in the top 21 percentile. Currently, Western offers 463 online classes in total, with seven of those being for undergraduate and graduate degrees.

More recently, Western has added accounting and economics to its mix of online possibilities. It remains one of the few universities in the country to offer an anthropology degree from home. Starting in the fall semester, students at Western may enroll in the online program for supply chain management, which is one of the university’s highest-enrolled programs.

Additionally, students who enroll at Western may earn bachelor’s degrees in programs like general studies, communication and geography, while elementary education is one of the top choices in the school’s master’s degree program.

Western is riding a wave that continues to pick up momentum; according to U.S. News, more than 6.3 million students in the U.S. are currently taking at least one online class. In each of the last 14 years that the data was collected in, the number of students enrolling in online classes has steadily risen.

Students of all ages and demographics have been taking more online classes as of recent, even in times of economic struggle. More than threefourths of all online students in the U.S. reside in the same state as their college, which indicates that proximity is still a deciding factor in making a higher-education decision. In general, in-state tuition is more affordable whether courses are completed in person or online.

For students who prefer the traditional method of learning, Western gives students the chance to take blended courses, which combine the elements of an online class and an in-person class. Jeff Hancks, the Executive Director of the School of Global Education and Outreach, believes that Western’s ranking is quite the feat. He shared his reaction with Western Illinois University Relations about placing so highly on the list.

“We are proud to have received this tremendous recognition from U.S. news and World Report for the quality of our online programs,” he said. “WIU has strategically built a portfolio of outstanding, in-demand online programs, and we are thrilled that respected national publications like U.S. News have noticed.”