Online Colleges in Minnesota
At one time, a college degree may have been considered a luxury. However, times have changed, and higher education is now needed for many occupations in the 21st century. Fortunately, there are now more options than ever when it comes to earning a degree.
Online schools in Minnesota are one increasingly popular choice for those who want to go back to school but may lack the time or money for a traditional college experience. In fact, students are making use of these online options in Minnesota. The University of Minnesota (umn.edu) reports that online enrollments throughout its entire university system reached 31,000 for the 2012 academic year.
Student interest in online degrees in Minnesota mirrors a national trend in distance learning. Most colleges and universities - including 70 percent of public institutions - now offer online courses and degree programs, according to a 2013 report from The Sloan Consortium (sloanconsortium.org). That same report also showed that 6.7 million students - 32 percent of the total student population - took at least one online course during the fall 2011 term. To help meet the increasing interest for options in virtual learning, online colleges in Minnesota are now offering some degree programs that fall in high-demand fields such as health care, business and computer science.
Trends in Minnesota Online Schools
Minnesota has put a continuing emphasis on higher education. The Itasca Higher Education Task Force notes the state offers students an array of educational choices, and it ranks eighth in the nation in terms of the percentage of high school graduates who enroll directly into college. The task force was convened by the Itasca Project (theitascaproject.com), an employer-led civic alliance. In the task force's white paper on higher education, the group makes the point of saying that online education options will be critical to continuing Minnesota's strong tradition in postsecondary education.
Many online colleges in Minnesota are already looking for ways to promote their flexible degree programs to both recent high school graduates and returning students. For example, Distance Minnesota (distanceminnesota.org) is an online portal intended to coordinate the delivery of courses and support services for four member schools including: Alexandria Technical and Community College; Northland Community and Technical College; Northwest Technical College; and Bemidji State University. Distance Minnesota is one example of how colleges in the state are embracing distance learning and making it accessible for students.
Online College Degrees in Minnesota
According to the Lumina Foundation (luminafoundation.org), Minnesota already exceeds the national average in terms of its number of degree holders. While only 38.3 percent of working-age adults nationwide have at least a two-year degree, 45.8 of Minnesota residents have this level of education. However, the state may face a significant shortage in the number of degree holders it will need to fill jobs in the next five years. According to a 2010 report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (cew.georgetown.edu), 70 percent of jobs in Minnesota will require a postsecondary education by 2018. That number ranks the state as third in the nation in terms of jobs requiring training beyond high school. In addition, Minnesota ranks fifth in the nation when it comes to the percentage of jobs that could require a bachelor's degree by 2018.
Online schools in Minnesota may be one avenue to filling in this gap as well as helping to prepare students with skills for these jobs. Data from CareerOneStop (careeronestop.org), a website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, shows that some of the fastest-growing jobs expected to be available from 2008 to 2018 in the state that require a four-year degree are those for compliance officers, finanical examiners and personal financial advisors. There are also many others, and Minnesota online schools may offer the degree programs that can be helpful in training for these fields.
Online Colleges in Minnesota
Students in Minnesota have their choice of more than 200 higher education institutions. These include an extensive system of public colleges and universities as well as private schools. As of 2011, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (ohe.state.mn.us) reports the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system (minnesotaonline.org) is the largest public provider of online courses and programs in the state. In 2010, the system saw 12 percent of its students enrolled online in one of the member institutions' online offerings, which comprised 152 certificate programs, 36 diploma programs and 128 degrees.
The University of Minnesota (digitalcampus.umn.edu) also offers a number of online courses and degree programs through its Digital Campus. The university touts that many of its programs can be completed entirely online and include such popular offerings as a Bachelor's of Applied Health, Master's of Computer Science and Doctor of Nursing Practice. The university also offers hybrid courses that are nearly entirely online or partially online, but that require some in-person meetings.
Minnesota Office of Higher Education, Enrollment at a Glance, 2011
Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2008
Higher Education Partnerships for Prosperity, Itasca Project, 2012
Minnesota Measures, 2011 Report on Higher Education Performance, 2011
The Sloan Consortium, Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States, 2012
University of Minnesota Digital Campus