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Online Schools in Illinois

Hybrid and Online Degree Programs: Providing a Place to Learn

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From the shores of Lake Michigan in the northeast corner of the state to the Kentucky border along the southern tip, more than 100 institutions of higher education are scattered throughout Illinois. However, today’s students aren’t limited by geography or confined to the walls of a classroom. Whether they choose to enroll in community colleges or research universities, today students have access to hybrid and online degree programs that can enhance the convenience of education without sacrificing its quality.

Online schools in Illinois enable students to access course materials and complete assignments over the Internet. Meanwhile, hybrid programs combine online elements with face-to-face instruction, allowing for increased flexibility while maintaining a connection to campus. Illinois online colleges offer distance learning programs that can expand educational opportunities, bringing the classroom to students and working professionals.

Online Programs Focus on Illinois Jobs

Northwestern University has established an online master of science in information systems program which focuses on design, implementation and evaluation of software applications and theoretical models. Students learn about current software and information systems, and receive instruction regarding industry trends. Each course includes completion of a project applicable to the industry, helping students gain practical experience. The program is designed for working students, who may take some or all classes online and can choose a specialization related to their professional experience. Six areas of specialization are available and each specialization is related to a high-growth occupation, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. For example, the department projects the number of software application developers and database administrators to increase 30.87 percent and 24.99 percent, respectively, between 2010 and 2020.

DePaul University has an online master of science in accountancy program, which aims to provide students with the skills and abilities necessary for an accounting career. Coursework prepares graduates to take the Certified Public Accountant exam. The exam is maintained by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and successful completion is required to gain federal certification. Most online courses are taught in an asynchronous fashion, which allows students to learn at their own pace rather than requiring them to be online at a specific time, but coursework includes weekly deadlines and assignments. The Illinois Department of Employment Security projects that the number of accountants and auditors may increase by 11.41 percent between 2010 and 2020, adding more than 5,300 positions during that time.

Online Degree Programs: Educating Working Professionals

Illinois online colleges can educate working professionals in a variety of industries, including agriculture, which helps drive the state’s economy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Illinois ranks second among U.S. states in corn and soybean production. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers an online master of science in agricultural education, which focuses on program planning, curriculum development, teaching methodologies and instructional technologies. All courses are offered during the evenings at times that are convenient for students with daytime responsibilities, and are accessed through an online portal.

Students in the program complete coursework that teaches them how to conduct educational research, as well as how to provide effective instructional programs related to agricultural, consumer and environmental sciences. The degree can help graduates become eligible for positions as a post-secondary instructor or extension agent, among other opportunities.

Based at their DeKalb campus, Northern Illinois University offers an online master of public health program, which aims to prepare working professionals for leadership positions in public health and health-related agencies. The majority of coursework can be completed online, although some courses may include up to three face-to-face sessions. Students can specialize in either health promotion, which prepares individuals to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam, or health services management, which qualifies graduates to take the Illinois Nursing Home Administrators licensing exam if certain electives have been completed.

Regardless of the specialization, the curriculum covers topics such as health services management, applied research methods, community health planning and environmental health issues. The Illinois Department of Employment Security anticipates the number of health educators to increase 22.81 percent between 2010 and 2020, growing at an annual rate of 2.08 percent.

Industries for Job Growth in Illinois

Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that more than 6 million working professionals were employed in Illinois in 2012. More than 1.1 million people were employed in trade, transportation and utilities, the industry with the highest employment in the state. Professional and business services positions accounted for nearly 865,000 jobs, making it the second-highest employment industry in Illinois, while education and health services followed close behind with approximately 863,000 occupations.

Online colleges in Illinois can benefit students who enroll in degree programs related to occupations that are on the upswing. Some Illinois online schools have programs that specialize in marketing and public relations. The Illinois Department of Employment Security expects the number of public relations specialists and public relations managers to increase by 15.62 percent and 11.23 percent, respectively, between 2010 and 2020. During that time, demand for financial professionals is also projected to grow, with financial examiners expected to increase 21.42 percent and the number of financial analysts rising approximately 20.91 percent. An online graduate degree in finance could help to prepare graduates for employment in that growing field.

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois Economy at a Glance, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.il.htm

Illinois Department of Employment Security, State of Illinois Occupational Employment Projections 2010-2020, 2010, http://www.ides.illinois.gov/Custom/Library/Statistic/EmploymentProjections/IL1020LTOcc.PDF

Illinois Department of Employment Security, State of Illinois Industry Employment Projections 2010-2020, 2010, http://www.ides.illinois.gov/Custom/Library/Statistic/EmploymentProjections/IL1020LTInd.PDF

State of Illinois, Official Website for the State of Illinois, http://www.illinois.gov/Pages/default.aspx

U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA Crop Production 2011 Summary, 2012, http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/CropProdSu/CropProdSu-01-11-2013.pdf

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