Innovative, Rigorous Online Baccalaureate

Marshalling its full range of educational resources — a renowned faculty, an innovative program of study and the latest Internet technology –The City University of New York is offering its first Online Baccalaureate this fall.

Designed for those who seek to complete their college degree, CUNY’s new online baccalaureate combines a strong liberal arts curriculum with a concentration in communication and culture. Courses will be diverse and challenging — and include such areas as mass media studies, organizational change, global culture, historical perspectives, scientific reasoning, and urban affairs. Offering a distinctive “virtual classroom” experience, the online baccalaureate combines flexible scheduling and Web-based tools to facilitate a high degree of interaction among students, their instructors, and fellow classmates.

“The online degree was specifically created for those who have been successful academically, but were unable to finish their studies for unrelated reasons, such as demanding job or family responsibilities,” said CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. “This kind of program fits perfectly with the mission and tradition of the University — to reach out to New Yorkers with access to a quality education, which they might not have otherwise.”

Offered through CUNY’s School of Professional Studies, the degree will enroll students who already have earned at least 30 credits from an accredited college or university. It will also draw students who have completed their associate’s degree and seek to embark on baccalaureate education. Full-time CUNY faculty will teach the inaugural class of approximately 300 students. The University’s Board of Trustees and New York’s State Education Department formally approved the online baccalaureate.

“It’s a strong liberal arts program, one that will equip graduates with skills increasingly useful in professional environments,” said Selma Botman, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. “Among the goals of the program is for students to develop an awareness of the social implications of the technologies they use, not just learn technical skills.”

A key aspect of the online degree, according to John Mogulescu, Dean of the School of Professional Studies, is the commitment to student support services, including financial aid, tech support, career counseling, tutoring and personal academic advisors. Along with flexible course schedules, these services are critical to making college more accessible — particularly for students who were unable to finish their degree.

College degree-completion has eluded many students nationwide. In 1986, more than half the students in four-year public institutions completed their degrees, said George Otte, CUNY’s Director of Instructional Technology. Since that time, he said, research shows that the number of students completing their degree has steadily declined across the country, with not much more than a third of students now achieving their degree.

The launch of CUNY’s Online Baccalaureate follows extensive work with online instruction between 2000 and 2004, supported by grants by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. During that time, more than 20,000 students have taken online courses on CUNY campuses across virtually every discipline, Otte said.

Online instruction has increased dramatically over the last decade. “There is a strong sense among students that online courses are just as good as face-to-face classes, that there is actually as much or more interaction, student to student, and student to faculty,” Otte said. Ninety percent of the students surveyed said the experience was “as good as or better” than a similar traditional course, he said.

Those findings were mirrored among the faculty who were surveyed, Otte added. While 90 percent of participating faculty acknowledged that online instruction required more time and work, they wanted to keep doing it. “It’s really developed in a grassroots way,” Otte said. “Now faculty are saying, ‘Let’s build on the work so many of us have begun and develop an online degree that maximizes the benefits to the students.'”

Students can come to CUNY and finish what they started. They can visit our website at www.cuny.edu/online or call 212-652-CUNY for more information.

The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university: eleven senior colleges, six community colleges, the CUNY Honors College, the Graduate School and University Center, the Graduate School of Journalism, the Law School and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. The University serves more than 220,000 degree-credit students and 230,000 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program for 32,500 high school students is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 200 high schools throughout the five boroughs of the City of New York.