Online Schools in Indiana
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).
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