For students who do not have the time or means to pursue a traditional, on-campus degree program, Virginia is home to 84 colleges, universities and specialty schools offering online education. In recent years, Virginia passed legislation to improve and expand its online learning program offerings for students of higher education. As of 2013, the commonwealth tallied 18 universities and colleges that offered online or hybrid (online and campus-blended) programs for those looking to earn a bachelor’s, master’s or specialty degree. On top of that, more than 20 community colleges in Virginia provide associate and diploma programs with online class or distance degree options. Nationally based online colleges and universities also have campus centers in Virginia, further supporting online degree and certificate programs at undergraduate and graduate levels.
The University of Virginia features online options for full degree programs in a range of disciplines falling within the arts and sciences. The School of Continuing and Professional Studies has online offerings such as a non-credit Certificate in Public Relations or a graduate-level Certificate in Cybersecurity Management. Other public and private institutions in the state that offer online programs include:
Virginia college programs in the health care field may include distance learning options, as well as on-campus laboratory sessions. For example, Eastern Virginia Medical School’s Clinical Embryology & Andrology Program is offered online except for brief residential courses on campus.
Liberty UniversityLynchburg, Virginia
Northern Virginia Community CollegeAnnandale, Virginia
George Mason UniversityFairfax, Virginia
Tidewater Community CollegeNorfolk, Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmond, Virginia
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburg, Virginia
Columbia CollegeFairfax, Virginia
University of Virginia-Main CampusCharlottesville, Virginia
Old Dominion UniversityNorfolk, Virginia
James Madison UniversityHarrisonburg, Virginia
On the campus grounds of Hampton University, the first “classroom” – an oak tree – still stands strong. Freed slaves in 1861 attended classes under the branches of that tree. The Hampton Normal School followed on the grounds and Hampton Institute was founded there in 1930. Today, Hampton University reaches online students in Virginia and locations far flung from the mouth of Chesapeake Bay through Hampton U Online. Online programs include four associate degrees, four doctorates and a master’s, and eight bachelor’s degrees in the arts and sciences. Online certificate programs prepare professionals in human resource management and paralegal practice. There are also two-year online associate programs in aviation management (for air traffic controllers), flight education, general studies, and business management. At the master’s degree level, the university has developed an online information assurance program.
Hampton U Online has several support services and resources in place to help distance learners near and far. A few examples of such resources include an online bookstore, career center, online library, 24/7 tech assistance, and virtual proctoring. Additionally, men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces—veterans and active duty members—can take advantage of the university’s military credit policy. For example, those with a minimum two years of honorable service are eligible for academic credit for their military training and experience.
For more information on the online programs at Hampton University, visit: http://huonline.hamptonu.edu.
The Virginia Polytechnic Institution and State University, better known as Virginia Tech, delivers a substantial number of online master’s degree and graduate certificate programs through its Extended Learning Enrollment Services department. Students can choose from among 15 fully online master’s programs in subjects such as aerospace engineering, agriculture, education, information technology, ocean engineering, and political science. Other master’s programs are conducted in either a fully interactive videoconferencing or blended format. Certificate programs are available in natural resources, environmental politics, security studies, nuclear engineering, software development, and several other subjects. Individual courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels are also available to registered Virginia Tech students and for those seeking to fulfill professional development or continuing education licensing or job requirements.
Some online degree programs and courses may be offered at discounted rates for out-of-state students.
For additional information on Virginia Tech’s distance learning courses and programs, visit their website at: http://www.vto.vt.edu.
Northern Virginia Community College (or NOVA) is a two-year public institution with six campuses located in and around the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Through its Extended Learning Institute (ELI), NOVA supports over 20 associate degrees and more than a dozen certificates that can be earned entirely online. Academic areas include popular fields such as accounting, business management, fine arts, liberal arts, information technology, marketing, science, and social sciences. Certificate programs are available in administration of justice, bookkeeping, early childhood development, cyber security, health science, and many others. Additional online courses and degree programs are available directly through individual NOVA campuses. Most ELI classes are 16 weeks in length, although some are offered in an 8-week accelerated format.
All distance learning programs require access to the Internet with some also requiring the use of computer programs on CD-ROM, listening to audio or video programs, using voice mail or attending scheduled web meetings through the Blackboard Collaborate virtual classroom.
More information on Northern Virginia Community College’s ELI programs can be found at: http://eli.nvcc.edu.
In late 2014, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that online work readiness courses to spark career entry and advancement will be available to every “social services agency, K-12 school, community college, and employer in the Commonwealth”. When fully deployed, the program, which was developed by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, will produce 21 work development courses that will also be shared with more than 145,000 Virginia teachers.
Virginia’s Community College Board, overseeing 23 colleges in the commonwealth, announced it has surpassed current goals for its “Achieve 2015” five-year plan to provide greater educational access to residents. The long-range plan calls for a 15-year increase of four-year transfers or graduates of the community colleges from its current 50,000 total to a target of 423,000 students. The district hopes for even greater success with its emerging “Middle College” program, designed to serve 18 to 24-year olds who never graduated high school to earn their GED, complete job skills training at a community college, and receive a Career Readiness Certificate.