STARKVILLE, Miss.--While Mississippi State University currently offers nearly 30 online programs to almost 3,000 students, the Center for Distance Education is continuously working to expand online degree options.
The university's distance education programs primarily serve non-traditional students --adults working full-time. The online programs also attract active military service members and people looking to improve their employment opportunities, said Michael Busby, distance education manager.
Busby said one of the most popular programs is the Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies. Students pursuing the accredited degree take courses tailored to fit their specific educational needs.
"If students cannot take classes on our Starkville campus but want to be a graduate of MSU, they have the opportunity," said Marian Montgomery, BSIS coordinator. "They don't have to quit their jobs. They don't have to uproot their families. They can become a member of the Bulldog family by earning their degree online."
After students finish 61 hours of a core curriculum at an accredited postsecondary institution, they can earn the BSIS at MSU by completing 36 hours in upper-level coursework in two or three of 11 concentration areas: business technology, communication, criminology, general business, general technology, geosciences, history, psychology, social work, sociology and business or instructional technology.
"The concentration areas must include 18 hours from two concentrations or 12 hours from three," Montgomery said. "At least two of the concentrations must be from different academic colleges within the university."
Altogether, BSIS students must complete 122 hours to earn a degree, she said.
Other distance education undergraduate degree programs include the Bachelor of Science in Geosciences, emphasis in Operational Meteorology, and the Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education.
MSU also offers master's degrees through the Center for Distance Education, such as the Master of Arts in Teaching with emphasis in Community College Education, Middle Level Education, or Secondary Education; the Master of Business Administration, with or without emphasis in Project Management; the Master of Engineering; the Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Forestry, General Biology, Industrial Engineering, Information Systems, Workforce Educational Leadership or Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion with a Health Promotion concentration. Distance education students can also pursue a Master of Science degree in Geosciences with concentrations in Applied Meteorology or Teachers in Geosciences.
MSU also offers several doctorates of philosophy, including a Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering with a concentration in Aerospace Engineering or Civil Engineering, a Doctor of Philosophy in Community College Leadership, a Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical and Computer Engineering or Industrial and Systems Engineering.
"Courses offered through distance education follow the traditional main campus schedule in that they are semester-based," Montgomery said. "Distance students have deadlines, just like main campus ones, but, in most cases, they do not have to be in a certain place at a specific time in order to take the class.
"To be successful, a distance student must be disciplined and highly motivated to keep up with assignments and tests and to meet the deadlines that instructors set."
In addition to regular course fees, distance education fees and instructional support fees are charged to help pay for the technological infrastructure necessary to support online classrooms. MSU employees enrolled in the programs do not have to pay the distance education fees, but, like other distance learners, they are charged an instructional support fee of $25 per credit hour.
For more information about online coursework through MSU, visit http://www.distance.msstate.edu or call 662-325-3473.