Online Schools in Mississippi

Online and Hybrid Degree Programs: Providing a Place to Learn

With most of Mississippi's population living in rural areas or small towns -- the largest city is Jackson, with a population of just more than 175,000, and the third-largest town, Hattiesburg, has just under 50,000 residents (quickfacts.census.gov/) -- online education can be an easy way for many state residents to access higher education. What's more, some of Mississippi's high school seniors may not immediately enter college after high school, creating a demand for Mississippi online colleges for residents who want to pursue higher education later in life, after they've started a career, and hope to advance in their academic knowledge.

Students looking for postsecondary options in Mississippi can find 36 schools available in the state in the form of public or private institutions, as well as two-year colleges that may have multiple campuses, according to the Mississippi Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (www.macrao.org.msstate.edu). To help students locate the online classes that may be available to them in Mississippi, the Mississippi Office of Academic and Student Affairs (mississippi.edu) maintains a central website that allows new, returning and transfer students to enroll in a variety of online schools in Mississippi offering associate of arts or associate of science degrees at the community college level. With the state's two largest universities also serving as online schools in Mississippi, students have the opportunity to pursue bachelo'rs, master's and doctorate degrees.

Online Schools in Mississippi Help Meet Occupational Demand

While Mississippi, with its warm climate and rich lowlands, has always been a strongly agricultural state, its economy has shifted in recent years (economywatch.com), leading to more jobs in the gambling industry, health care and government. According to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (mdes.ms.gov), jobs in the health care field, including those for licensed vocational nurses, registered nurses, and medical records and health information technicians, could grow by more than 20 percent from 2008 to 2018.

The University of Mississippi (online.olemiss.edu), called Ole Miss, offers a variety of online degree programs and individual courses to prepare workers to fill jobs in these fields. Online Ole Miss classes allow students to attend class and study when it's convenient, enabling them to work around family and professional responsibilities. Students can study a wide variety of health sciences, from informatics and information management to dental hygiene and radiological sciences. The university's graduate school offers masters degrees in many professional fields, including business administration, elementary education, health care administration, and various nurse practitioner disciplines. There are also certificate programs in geospatial information science and teaching English as a second language.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center at Ole Miss is also meeting the demand for health care workers through its 2+U online degree programs (umc.edu). These programs are designed for students who have a two-year associate degree in a health care-related field at a Mississippi community or junior college and want to earn a bachelor's degree.

Distance Learning Benefits Working Professionals

The University of Southern Mississippi (usm.edu), known as Southern Miss, launched its eLearning Initiative in 2009, and offers fully online degrees in Mississippi in undergraduate, graduate, hybrid and certificate programs. The hybrid executive programs at Southern Miss can help working professionals, allowing them some interaction with their professors as they work toward their degrees in interscholastic athletic administration, economic development, instructional technology and public health. For some degree programs, there is a combination of online courses, as well as hybrid courses, where students might meet with professors on weekends or through face-to-face instructional sessions.

Mississippi State University offers a variety of graduate degrees online, particularly in engineering, which can be helpful for working toward continued professional development. As an example, students can find both a Master of Science and a Doctorate in Civil Engineering online through the school's Bagley College of Engineering (bcoelearning.msstate.edu). These online degrees in Mississippi are designed to provide excellence in learning to working professionals, and to make sure they are supported through faculty instruction. With job opportunities for civil engineers projected to grow 21.1 percent in the state from 2008 to 2018 (mdes.ms.gov), the degree could be a solid choice for those looking to expand their engineering knowledge.

Industries for Job Growth in Mississippi

Mississippi employed about 1.2 million workers in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), and the state's unemployment rate had dropped in late 2012 from 9.2 percent in July to 8.6 in December 2012. Government was the largest employer, with nearly 250,000 workers, followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities sector, which had 215,000 workers at the end of 2012. Education and health services ranked third among state industries with 138,000 workers. Many online degrees in Mississippi offered at state universities are focused on preparing professionals to fill jobs in these employment sectors.

Teaching, training and library jobs are expected to increase by more than 20 percent between 2008 and 2018, and the number of jobs in health diagnosing and treating is expected to grow more than 25 percent. The state is also expected to add more than 5,000 business and financial operations jobs during that time. As the state continues to improve its schools, it is expected to add nearly 20,000 teachers, trainers, librarians and other educators for the state's schools between 2008 and 2018. Elementary and secondary school teachers are expected to be positions that see the highest demand.

Sources:
University of Mississippi, 2+U Degree Program Options
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mississippi Economy at a Glance, 2012
CareerOneStop, Civil Engineers
Mississippi Public Universities, Distance Learning: Online Degree Programs
Economy Watch, Economy of Mississippi State
Mississippi Association of Collegiate Registrars & Admissions Officers
Mississippi's Office of Academic and Student Affairs
American Legislative Exchange Council, Mississipi: The Magnolia State, 2011
Mississippi Department of Employment Security, Occupational Employment Projections: Mississippi, 2008
The University of Southern Mississippi, Online Graduate Programs
U.S. Census Bureau, QuickFacts: Mississippi, 2012

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