ROME — Online higher education has become an increasingly popular option, especially for students focused on earning a degree amid the competing demands of a vocation or family life.
Shorter University is competitive among colleges and universities around the country in providing online courses within their program offerings, opening university doors to many students who don’t have the time or flexibility for a traditional class schedule.
Shorter President Don Dowless stated, “The trend is toward online education. Last year we had over 500 online students, and we continue to grow. Our undergraduate online enrollment this spring was 20% higher than last spring and our graduate online enrollment was more than 47% higher than last spring.
“We are now adding an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in Christian Studies to our online programs. In this online program we are seeking to target pastors and Christian leaders. We wanted to do something to accommodate their progress toward a degree. Sixty hours of credit are necessary for an associate’s degree and students could complete the requirements for that degree in 18 months.”
Shorter Executive Vice President and Provost Donald “Skip” Martin explained, “Shorter University’s online program has been named by Affordable Colleges Online as one of the top ten online programs for 2015 among the nation’s Christian colleges and universities.”
Martin added, “Criteria used to rank colleges are as follows: A Christian ethos, affordable tuition, full online programs, and a number of student support services that help shape cost-effective, quality learning at the college level. HOPE scholarships can also be appropriated for online studies.”
The advantages of online studies?
- Convenience. Students can meet the requirements for these studies at home and work to accommodate their own schedules.
- Quality education with a Christ-centered focus. Professors are committed to the principle of biblical inerrancy.
- Affordable cost. Online education provides the student the ability to avoid the personal costs of travel and meals. Time is money and since there is no travel time to and from school, there is often a significant savings in time for online students.
- Accreditation. Shorter University’s Online Program is accredited by the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools (SACS), so the value of the program is equal to the courses provided on campus.
- Reach. Students in other countries can take advantage of online studies, thus expanding the mission of Shorter University.
Biblical foundation,real-world application
Liz Mahaffey is the dean of the university’s online programs. With a diverse educational and professional background, Mahaffey holds a dual Bachelor of Science degree and Psychology and Religion (summa cum laude) degree from Charleston Southern University and leadership experience in a Fortune 500 company. She also earned her Master of Business Administration degree from Shorter University.
Mahaffey stated, “As a religion major during my undergraduate studies, I am personally very excited about offering the Christian Studies program in the fully online format. This program has been designed to equip individuals working in many different areas of ministry with a solid biblical foundation and real-world application.
“Having also earned a graduate degree in a fully online environment, I clearly understand the dedication required for each of our students. Students entering the Christian Studies program will also gain valuable experience by applying the level of dedication and self-discipline needed to further their education in fully online environment, while also applying relevant information to areas of ministry and other related fields” Mahaffey explained.
Legare Price, assistant director for Enrollment for Online Programs and a supply preacher, earned his Master of Business Administration from Shorter’s Online Program. He remarked, “Gaining my master’s degree through Shorter’s Online Program has definitely been a rewarding experience. As a manager and pastor, the flexibility afforded through an online program suited my role as a manager and helped me navigate these fields in a Christian atmosphere that I very much appreciated.”
The Bachelor of Science in Christian Studies launches this August, with the Associate of Science starting June 22. Earl Kellett, chair of Christian Studies Department, has helped design the degree in the online format and has written many of the courses within the program.
“An online Bachelor of Science degree in Christian Studies is a good fit for students who are interested in becoming servant-leaders and seeking careers that require strong skills in critical thinking, writing, communication, and cultural analysis,” Kellett said. “This program provides a strong biblical foundation that prepares students to serve effectively in today’s multicultural environment. The degree is appropriate for students who wish to pursue ministry-related careers or similar careers in the marketplace.
“These online courses are taught primarily by our traditional faculty who all have terminal degrees and real-world experience to help prepare the students more effectively for challenges they may face in their own careers – and all of this expertise is available right from your computer!”
For more information about Shorter’s online programs go to online.shorter.edu.