Tennessee is an innovator when it comes to online education. Learn what it has done and what online degrees it offers.

Online Schools in Tennessee

When it comes to online education in Tennessee, the state ranks as one of the nation's top innovators. For example, the state's Board of Regents, one of the two systems of public higher education in the state, developed the Regents Online Campus Collaborative (ROCC), which aims to expand access to higher education, employ technology to deliver top-quality education and provide online courses and degree programs to those in remote regions.

The program encompasses six universities, 13 community colleges and 27 technology centers. The six universities include the University of Memphis, Austin Peay State University, Tennessee State University, Middle Tennessee State University, East Tennessee State University and Tennessee Technological University. Students register at a "home campus" and then take online courses at schools in the collaborative across the state. The network serves more than 38,000 students per year. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for a Competitive Workforce described ROCC as "one of the more robust efforts to promote online learning in the country."

Trends in Tennessee Online Schools

Online education offerings and opportunities continue to expand in Tennessee. Total online enrollment has been on the rise each semester at the University of Tennessee, which offers 63 academic programs that are completely online. Combined, these programs enroll over 5,300 students.Recently, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, began revamping its online education component so students could take classes more easily, qualify for financial aid for those classes and retain links to their brick-and-mortar campus.

To broaden access throughout the state and beyond, Tennessee state universities deliver distance education in various class forms: interactive video instruction, online and hybrid/blended online. In addition, workshops and training for educators on developing and teaching online courses continue to be offered around the state. Tennessee is one of a handful of states that bases higher-education funding primarily on performance rather than enrollment in an effort to try to ensure top-quality education and higher graduation rates.

College Degrees in Tennessee

Tennesseans who earn a degree, whether an associate or bachelor's, are more likely to be working seven years after graduation and making more money than their non-graduating peers, The State's Economic Outlook January 2012 indicated. Today's business recruitment efforts in Tennessee are focused on six economic sectors in which the state has a competitive edge: automotive; chemicals and plastics; transportation, logistics and distribution services; business services; health care; and advanced manufacturing and energy technologies, according to the state's Department of Economic & Community Development. The Fall 2012 Business and Economic Outlook study, prepared by the UT Center for Business and Economic Research, predicted the strongest job growth in 2013 would occur in natural resources, mining and construction. Manufacturing should see gains as well.

Online College in Tennessee

The online degree offerings in Tennessee span a wide array of subjects. The Regents Online Campus Collaborative offers various technical certificates and diplomas to teacher licensure programs to associate, bachelor's and master's degrees. The more than 35 programs offered include nursing, allied health, education, computer information systems, business systems technology, Web technology, leadership, and training and development.

Each school in the ROCC offers a different array of online classes and programs. For example, The University of Memphis, a public research university, provides access through eCampus to online degrees ranging from bachelor's to doctoral. Subjects encompass arts, journalism, history, psychology, philosophy, English, computer science, education, business, finance and nursing.

Cookeville's Tennessee Technological University, also an ROCC school, is home to six academic divisions, including schools of nursing, business, agriculture, engineering and education. Online degrees students can earn include bachelor's degrees in accounting, professional studies or interdisciplinary studies and/or master's degrees in education, nursing, exercise studies and professional studies.

Students also have online options outside the ROCC. Nashville's Tennessee State University, for instance, offers seven online bachelor's degree programs including sociology, urban studies, professional studies with specific concentrations and interdisciplinary studies. Its seven master's programs cover subjects such as nursing, teaching and learning, and speech and hearing science.

The online degree programs available via the University of Tennessee vary by campus. They include aviation and aviation engineering programs from UT's Space Institute to nursing, dental and laboratory degrees through its Health Science Center. Other fields of study include education, agriculture, business administration, engineering and social work.

Sources:
Jobs4TN, Department of Economic & Community Development, http://www.tn.gov/ecd/Jobs4TN.html
Regents Online Campus Collaborative, http://www.rodp.org/
Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011, Sloan Consortium, http://sloanconsortium.org/publications/survey/going_distance_2011
State of Tennessee Higher Education Commission, http://www.state.tn.us/thec/
Tennessee Higher Education Fact Book, 2011-2012, http://www.state.tn.us/thec/Legislative/Reports/2012/2011-%202012%20Fact%20Book%20for%20Web%20%2812.7.20%29.pdf
The Public Agenda for Tennessee Higher Education, 2010-2015, http://www.tn.gov/thec/complete_college_tn/ccta_files/master_plan/The%20Public%20Agenda%20with%20Appendices%20Jan2011.PDF
U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for a Competitive Workforce, http://education.uschamber.com/reportcard/innovation/
"More States Utilize Performance Funding for Higher Education," U.S. News & World Report, February 12, 2012, Joanne Jacobs, http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2012/02/24/more-states-utilize-performance-funding-for-higher-education
Tennessee Business and Economic Outlook, 2012, University of Tennessee, http://cber.bus.utk.edu/tefs/fall12.pdf

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