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Jan 22, 2013 06:42 AM EST

SUNY to Develop 10 Online Bachelor's Degree Courses

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The State University of New York (SUNY) chancellor, Nancy Zimpher, in her third annual speech on Tuesday spoke about her plans to strengthen higher education in the state and to become the largest provider of online education in the country.  

Zimpher plans to develop new online and three-year degree courses in the state to encourage more students to continue with their higher education and to reduce student loans.

The average SUNY student takes approximately 4.4 years to earn a bachelor's degree, less than the national average of 4.5 years. Whereas, an average SUNY student debt is valued at $22,575, which is also less when compared to the national average of $26,600.

The 64-campus system will launch Open SUNY, a series of online courses, to help more students earn college degrees and to find jobs in the state. SUNY will increase its offerings of online bachelor's degrees by 25 percent and hopes to triple the number of degree-seeking students in online education programs in three years. 

"No institution in America - not even the for-profits - will be able to match the number of offerings and the quality of instruction," Zimpher said. "In three years, we will enroll 100,000 degree-seeking students in Open SUNY, making us the largest public online provider of education in the nation," Lohud reports.

While three online degree courses in information technology and health care will be launched this fall, seven more will be available same time, next year. Students can attend these online credit courses from any SUNY college and earn their credits by paying tuition to their respective universities.The cost of the courses is still to be fixed.

In addition, SUNY will also offer necessary internships and research or volunteer opportunities during their course work, which will be mentioned in their diplomas.

"We are committed to the idea that students should have the choice to graduate in three years," Zimpher said. "We believe that by 2015, 25 percent of SUNY students will be able to do this."

Binghamton University president, Harvey Stenger, said that these courses reduce student loans as they're only paying three years of tuition instead of four.

Universities across the country do offer free massive open online courses (MOOC) to help financially weak students to have access to education. However, these online courses do not offer credits. 

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