May Online Graduates Climb to 357, New Online Programs to Launch in Fall

Chris Lorch and Lee Ann Danner, two doctoral graduates in the Adult and Lifelong Learning online program.
Photo by Kay Murphy

Chris Lorch and Lee Ann Danner, two doctoral graduates in the Adult and Lifelong Learning online program.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The number of University of Arkansas students who graduated from online degree programs reached an all-time high of 357 students in May. This trend is expected to continue after nine new online programs developed by the U of A launch in fall 2019.

The number of graduates in May represents an increase of 78.5 percent from the 200 online students who graduated in May 2015. As more online programs become available, the number of online graduates is expected to increase.

“The University of Arkansas is expanding online education to meet the needs of adults who want a U of A degree but cannot abandon their jobs, homes and responsibilities to come to Fayetteville,” said Donald Judges, vice provost for distance education. “Online programs help remove the barriers of time and distance by providing access to programs developed and delivered by U of A academic colleges.”

New Online Programs for fall

The U of A will offer nine new online programs in fall 2019. They include:

More than 40 online degree and certificate programs are featured on the University of Arkansas ONLINE website.

Online Only option

For some U of A students, studying online is their only option.

Nicole Johnson, a senior supply chain buyer and planner from Rogers, participated in the Sam M. Walton College of Business commencement May 11, after applying for graduation from the bachelor’s degree program in general business.

“I’ve worked really hard for this,” Johnson said. “I’m the first in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree. …The only way I could finish the degree was online.”

Ryan French, 39, a Canadian from Oakville, Ontario, only considered online programs when searching for a master’s degree program in physical education.

“Online learning was a great fit for me,” French said. “It allowed me to live my life. It allowed me to teach. It allowed me to coach. It allowed me to be an active member in my family.”

Robert Yancey, a senior master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, said, “Studying online is almost a requirement. Being in the military, I move around a lot.”

Yancey, who has 24 years of military service, applied for graduation from the master’s degree program in Human Resource and Workforce Development Education in the College of Education and Health Professions.

Lee Ann Danner, a clinical nurse educator and Kaplan instructor, chose the online doctorate degree program in adult and lifelong learning because it fit her busy lifestyle and helped her reach a lifetime goal of earning a doctorate.

“When I started the program in 2016, I owned my own business, and I also worked two other jobs,” Danner said. “I could work at my own pace. It’s just something that I always wanted to do.”

Career goals

Many online students enroll in degree programs to help them advance their careers or start new ones.

“It’s really allowed me to achieve professional growth,” said Megan Dean, 35, of Alma.

Dean earned her master’s degree in special education and will begin a position as an educational examiner in Fort Smith. She was able to add an endorsement to her teaching license by completing a specific set of courses embedded in the master’s program.

Peter Cannia, 61, from Campbell, California, would like to coach rowing at the collegiate level, but he said he would need at least a master’s degree to do that.

“I read online about the master’s degree at the University of Arkansas,” Cannia said. “It just fit perfectly. Everybody I talked with was extremely warm and welcoming. They made me feel like they really wanted me to succeed.”

Timothy Johnson, 37, of Pleasant Plains, Arkansas, sought his bachelor’s degree program in human resource and workforce development education to start a new career. He has worked as a teacher’s aide, hunting guide, insurance salesman and brick mason. He recently received the Outstanding Student award in his program, and in June, he will begin a new job in human resources.

“I could not have gotten the job without the degree,” Johnson said. “It was a life-changing event for me. I could not have asked for a better experience. Even if you had a bad experience in high school, you can have a good experience in college.”

Faculty make the Difference

Online students said their connections to U of A faculty persuaded them to choose programs offered by the University of Arkansas and motivated them to be successful in those programs.

French said he chose the U of A online program because Jack Kern, a clinical professor, talked with him by phone and expressed warmth and compassion that French did not get from the other institutions he considered. Once he started the program, French received personal attention from other faculty too, he said.

“I felt like I was part of something greater,” French said. “Professors create that kind of community. They’ve got your back.”

Cannia agreed.

“I talked with faculty all of the time,” he said. “They were just fantastic. They went out of their way to be connected.”

Faculty make the difference in College of Engineering programs too, Mason Goodson said. Goodson graduated from the master’s degree program in engineering, with an emphasis on aerospace.

“All of the teachers were extremely helpful and knowledgeable,” he said. “They were always reachable to ask questions, if needed. I even gained another favorite teacher, Dr. Roe, who taught the aerospace-focused classes that I took.

“The crazy thing was that I hadn't even met (him) until my comprehensive oral exam, months after I had finished his classes,” Goodson said. “I just enjoyed the way he taught and his stories. After meeting him in person, though, I liked him even more. He was a fantastic teacher.”

French met his physical education professors in person for the first time when he came to Fayetteville to walk in commencement on May 11.

“I am beyond excited to come down to Arkansas to see Dr. Kern and Dr. (Paul) Calleja and for commencement,” French said. “I’ve never been to Arkansas before. I couldn’t wait to see them and give them a big hug and say thank you.”

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 2.7 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Kay Murphy, director of communications
Global Campus


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