Online Schools in Pennsylvania
The governor of Pennsylvania recently increased state funding for education by a whopping $338 million, bringing its total share of the 2013-14 state budget to over $11 billion. Governor Tom Corbett stated that the investment was necessary because "Pennsylvania's students deserve to have access to quality programs that will ensure their success in the future" (The Wall Street Journal, 2013). With this influx of funding, Pennsylvania schools can hire new teachers, improve facilities, and strengthen higher education. This may also help colleges and universities expand their online degree offerings, extending educational opportunities to more students in the state. Often more flexible and convenient than traditional classroom learning, online programs can allow Pennsylvanians to pursue a degree at their own pace, from anywhere with an Internet connection.
Online Education Resources for Students in Pennsylvania
Today, there are many online learning options available to students in Pennsylvania. PA Universities Online, a website run by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), allows prospective students to browse online offerings from 14 state universities. Along with over 100 distance education programs, the PASSHE site features detailed information on each participating school and links to financial aid options.
Many national online colleges also offer online degree programs to students in Pennsylvania. Typically, these institutions boast a most extensive list of fully online options than state or private schools. Some, such as the University of Phoenix, ITT Technical Institute, and DeVry, even have physical campuses in Pennsylvania. These locations may allow students to pursue blended learning programs, which supplement online coursework with hands-on training sessions.
Importance of Accreditation for Online Colleges in Pennsylvania
In order to be recognized nationally as a respected institution of higher learning, colleges and universities must petition for accreditation. Accreditation is the certification that a school or program meets certain academic standards. Along with determining the quality of education one receives, it dictates whether other institutions will honor the school's credits if a student decides to transfer. Many colleges and universities in Pennsylvania are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), one of six regional agencies overseen by the Secretary of Education.
Accreditation by the MSCHE or one of its sister agencies isn't the only option for schools, however. Some institutions choose to petition different agencies, such as the Higher Learning Commission, or have individual programs evaluated by more specialized entities. Examples of these include the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Before enrolling in any academic program, students should check its accreditation status by contacting a school representative.
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