Nicholls offering several online degree programs

MORGAN CITY, La. -- As of January, students can take several different degree programs entirely online at Nicholls State University said Allayne “Laynie” Barrilleaux, vice president for academic affairs.

Barrilleaux spoke about the new online degree programs Nicholls State is offering at the St. Mary Industrial Group’s monthly meeting Monday at the Petroleum Club of Morgan City.

Nicholls State offers more than 200 individual courses online but just recently started offering degree programs online including degrees in history, English, sociology, general studies, and general family and consumer sciences.

The general studies degree will soon change to interdisciplinary studies, Barrilleaux said.

The online degree programs are targeting a specific group of students. “We are targeting and reaching the market we plan to reach, people that already have hours that just want to complete the degree,” she said.

Online programs give students the opportunity to study anywhere and at any time as long as someone has an Internet connection, she said.

A Board of Regents study showed that there is a high concentration of people in the region who started college but never finished, she said. This program allows those people to go back and finish their degrees.

Each online session is eight weeks long and the maximum load is nine hours. In-person sessions are 16 weeks long.

If a student took nine hours each session consecutively, he or she could get a four-year degree in less than three years, she said.

Regular tuition at Nicholls State will be going up by 10 percent in the fall, but for Nicholls Online, the university plans to keep tuition the same, Barrilleaux said. “Come fall, online education will be a little bit cheaper than traditional education for us,” she said.

“When you come to our online, it’s not going to be Disney World. The more frills and whistles you have, the more costly it is.”

The Nicholls Online program has the same accredited programs as an in-person degree with the same certified faculty and the “same education with a personal touch,” she said.

However, online education is not for everyone, Barrilleaux said. “It takes a certain kind of student,” she said.

The university also offers a master of education degree in educational leadership with a concentration in educational technology and students with registered nursing degrees can get a bachelor of science degree in nursing, Barrilleaux said.

Starting in the fall of 2013, Nicholls will offer a minor in business online, and in 2014, the university will offer an entire degree program in business online, she said. In the fall of 2013, Nicholls Online will also begin offering a master of education degree in kindergarten through 12th-grade leadership.

Online undergraduate courses cost $250 per credit hour while graduate courses cost $350 per credit hour.

Students can get financial aid through loans or through TOPS, she said. The university does not encourage freshmen to take online courses, but feel students need maturity to get through the online courses, she said. The different age groups in the online programs vary, she added.

Nicholls Online has about 80 students, and the program is growing, she said. At the end of the semester, the first online student will graduate with a degree.

“Someone who needed just a few hours that never could get there to complete their degree is going to complete their degree,” Barrilleaux said. “That gives me chills. That’s a pretty satisfactory feeling that we’re there for that.”

The online sessions begin in January, March, June, August and October.

For online sessions, unlike in-person classes, students have the ability to extend their classes up to six months for an extra $100 per month, she said.

Barrilleaux said the university is intending to attract students from the region even for the online programs.

“There’s still a need for traditional, obviously. Online is not going to take over everything,” Barrilleaux said.

Students interested in the online programs, students can learn more through Nicholls Online website at http://www.nicholls.edu/nicholls-online/, or by visiting with an advisor.

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