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Clarkson receives approval for more online degree programs

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POTSDAM — Clarkson University has received state approval to offer nearly all of its graduate programs online.

Students soon will be able to pursue master’s degrees in subjects such as chemistry, mathematics, physics and computer science without ever setting foot in a classroom.

The college has taken a major step forward in distance learning this semester. The school began offering a chance to enroll in online versions of 10 of its graduate programs in September.

Within a year, virtually all of the school’s master’s degree programs are expected to be available completely online.

These programs will follow the same curriculum as their physical counterparts, according to Kerop D. Janoyan, director of distance learning.

“The focus is to provide distance versions of everything that we offer on campus,” he said.

Before this semester, only students pursuing master of business administration degrees could participate in distance learning at Clarkson.

The college has 26 online-only students enrolled in its graduate programs now. Most have full-time jobs and can pursue their college education only part time.

The programs are open to anyone, but right now these busy professionals make up the main audience, Mr. Janoyan said.

“Supply and demand dictates everything,” he said. “The demand right now has been working professionals, but it really is open to everybody.”

The college does not yet offer online versions of every class for every major. The Distance Learning Department will work with faculty to fill in the blanks in the months to come.

“We are eventually going to pursue it. Students technically can pursue them, but we don’t have classes to satisfy everything yet,” Mr. Janoyan said.

For now, the school is focused on offering only its graduate programs online, with no immediate plans to do the same for undergraduate courses. However, by improving the environment for online learning, the college is creating a way to address education, according to Mr. Janoyan. “It opens up a new tool set for the whole university to use,” he said.

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