Online Schools in Florida
Online Degrees and Hybrid Programs: Providing a Place to Learn
Florida is home to some of the nation’s largest institutions of higher education. These include the University of Florida and Florida International University, which had a combined enrollment of more than 95,000 students as of Fall 2012.
Each of those students (and thousands more across the state) enjoy a variety of higher education opportunities, including distance learning options such as online and hybrid programs, that can increase convenience for students and working professionals. Online schools in Florida enable students to participate in web-based curricula, accessing course materials and completing assignments over the Internet. Hybrid programs combine online coursework with face-to-face instruction, giving students increased flexibility while maintaining a connection to campus.
Florida Among Top Distance Learning Programs
Schools in Florida range from small private campuses to nationally recognized universities. The University of Florida is a leader in distance learning, and the school’s online bachelor’s programs—first offered in 2002—were included on the U.S. News & World Report honor roll in 2012. The school’s nine online bachelor’s completion programs—ranging from sport management to microbiology and cell science—are available to students who have already completed two years of study. Introduced in 1999, the University of Florida’s master of business administration program was one of the first to offer students the option to earn a fully accredited online degree, and was rated the best distance learning MBA program in the world by The Economist in both 2008 and 2010. Offered on either a one- or two-year schedule, the program enables the majority of coursework to be completed online and requires students to visit the school’s Gainesville campus once each term.
Online Programs Focus on Florida Jobs
Online schools in Florida can help prepare students to meet the state’s future employment demands. According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, building construction is projected to be the state’s fastest-growing industry between 2010 and 2020, and industry-specific roles are expected to grow as well. As Florida builds for the future, Florida International University has established a master of science in construction management program, offering students the option of completing the entire program online or through a hybrid format. The program helps to prepare graduates for management positions in the construction industry, teaching them about construction methods, accounting, planning, scheduling and cost estimation.
Like many Florida online schools do, the online programs from campus-based Florida State University put an emphasis on asynchronous online instruction, allowing students to complete assignments at their convenience over the course of a week. The school’s online master of social work program follows this format, enhancing convenience for graduate students and working professionals alike. With coursework focused on training individuals to assess, diagnose and treat psychosocial problems, the graduate degree program helps to prepare students to work as medical and public health social workers. The FDEO anticipates that the occupation will see growth of 2.96 percent each year from 2010 until 2020, and that the social assistance industry as a whole is projected to grow by 2.49 percent annually during that time period.
As of November 2013, the Tampa-based University of South Florida offered a variety of online and hybrid degree programs: 32 certificate degrees available through distance learning, 11 bachelor’s degrees, 28 master’s degrees and two doctorate degrees. The school’s master of arts in special education program is tailored for working professionals. Courses offer a mixture of in-class and online study, or students can opt to access classroom sessions via video and complete coursework entirely online. This program could benefit students who hope to become special education teachers, an occupation that the FDEO expects to encounter annual growth of 2.27 percent between 2010 and 2020.
Industries for Job Growth in Florida
Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that approximately 7.5 million working professionals were employed in Florida in August 2013. Nearly 1.6 million people were employed in trade, transportation and utilities, the industry with the highest employment in the state. Nearly 65 percent of those jobs fell into the retail trade category. Health care and social assistance positions fueled employment in the education and health services industry, which employed more than 1.1 million people in 2013.
Florida students could benefit from enrolling in online degree programs relating to occupations that are on the upswing. Some online colleges in Florida have programs that specialize in marketing, offering either graduate certificates or a master of business administration with a marketing concentration. The FDEO expects the number of market research analysts and marketing specialists to increase by an average of 784 each year from 2010 to 2020. During that time, human resources, labor relations and training specialists are projected to increase by approximately 1,120 each year. An online master of sciences in human resources management degree could prepare graduates for employment in that growing field.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida Economy at a Glance 2013, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.fl.htm
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, 2013, http://www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/data-center/statistical-programs/employment-projections
Florida International University, http://www.fiu.edu/
Florida State University, http://www.fsu.edu/
Florida Virtual Campus, http://www.flvc.org
State of Florida, http://www.myflorida.com/
University of South Florida, http://www.usf.edu/
University of Florida, Warrington College of Business Administration, http://warrington.ufl.edu/
U.S. News & World Report, www.usnews.com/education/online-education/bachelors-honor-roll-rankings
University of Florida, http://warrington.ufl.edu/publications/docs/2008-02-08_Economist_MBA.pdf