Data collected in the 2010 U.S. Census indicates that less than 23 percent of Indiana residents over the age of 25 possess a bachelor's degree or higher (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011). Often more flexible than traditional schools, online colleges in Indiana can help the other 77 percent of adults statewide continue their education, helping them advance their current career or build towards a new one. Employment growth has been significant in Indiana, to the tune of 6.1 percent between 2010 and 2013, and gains in sectors such as health care, social assistance and professional services suggest that an educated workforce is more important than ever (U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, 2013).
Online Education Resources for Students in Indiana
Many traditional, classroom-based universities in Indiana now provide students with program options that can be completed partially or entirely online. WGU Indiana, a program created by the state of Indiana in conjunction with Western Governors University, offers an extensive catalog of bachelor's and master's degrees to working Indiana residents who might not have the time to enroll in a full-time university program. Similarly, Harrison College is a private institution featuring more than 30 online degrees in the state, and Indiana University currently offers nearly 80 programs of study in the virtual classroom.
Many national online schools also offer online degrees and certificates in students in Indiana. These institutions invite students to enroll in their online programs from any area of the state, and some even maintain campuses in Indianapolis and other city settings, for students who wish to take some of their coursework in a traditional classroom environment.
Importance of Accreditation for Online Colleges in Indiana
The U.S. Department of Education establishes standards for educational quality and then selects regional, national, or subject-specialized agencies to enforce them. Accreditation is a credential that indicates a level of educational quality that meets or exceeds these standards. This is important for many reasons, not least of all the fact that credit hours earned at an accredited institution are generally validated by universities nationwide.
Indiana regional schools receive their accreditation from the the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) (U.S. Department of Education, 2013). The NCA also oversees some multistate institutions, such as Kaplan University. Other online colleges in Indiana that maintain campuses outside the state fall under the jurisdiction of national accrediting bodies such as the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (U.S. Department of Education, Harrison College, 2013).
Indiana Online Colleges and Tuition Rates
Tuition rates will vary at online schools in Indiana, just like they do at traditional institutions. Most programs charge tuition by the credit hour, but how charges are calculated may also vary from institution to institution. For example, Indiana University uses the credit-hour model, but students at WGU Indiana pay a flat rate of tuition per six-month term. In February 2013, Kaplan University charged per quarter credit hour, with adjusted rates available for military veterans. The difference in tuition between residents and nonresidents is typically not as large for online programs as it is for traditional full-time university work.
Selected Online Degree Programs in Indiana
Online Information Technology Degrees in Indiana: Students at Indiana online schools can choose to approach IT from several different angles. Online network administration programs teach students the finer points of data storage and transmission on networks of various sizes, for instance, while information security students learn how to stop cyber criminals and analyze networks for security flaws. The computer systems design industry is expected to add nearly 700,000 new jobs between 2010 and 2020 (BLS.gov/emp, 2012), and graduates with information technology degrees will be well poised to take advantage of these emerging positions.
Online Nursing Degrees in Indiana: Although most licensing programs for nurses take place in a standard classroom, students who are already certified as registered or licensed practical/vocational nurses may go on to earn a bachelor's or master's degree entirely online. For students who can do some traveling, WGU Indiana offers a hybrid pre-licensure program that includes site-based lab and clinical work and prepares students for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
Online Criminal Justice Degrees in Indiana: Online criminal justice programs train students in behavioral science, social science, criminology, forensics, critical thinking, ethics and other vital aspects of systems that stand against crime. Online degrees in criminal justice can be earned at the associate, bachelor's or master's level. Students may choose between various specialties in the field, including corrections, forensics, paralegal, law enforcement and youth services (Harrison College, Ivy Tech Community College, 2013).
Other options for online degrees in Indiana include accounting, business administration, marketing, mathematics, special education, political science and more. To take the next step, contact an admissions officer or registrar from an online school in Indiana, or request information from one of the colleges listed below.