Online Degree Programs in Virginia

Virginia’s higher education system consists of 94 four-year schools and 88 community and technical schools. As one of the nation’s 13 original states, Virginia’s postsecondary institutions possess history as well as high-quality educational practices. Virginia is home to several of the nation’s oldest colleges, some of which were founded before the Revolutionary War. One such college is the College of William and Mary, which was founded in 1693. Today, the school is not only the second oldest postsecondary education institution in the country, but is ranked No. 33 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Washington and Lee University is another of the country’s oldest universities located in Virginia. It was founded in 1749 and is ranked the No. 14 best liberal arts college in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

Another of the state’s colleges that is well-known for its high-quality education is the University of Virginia (UV). It was founded in 1819 by none other than Thomas Jefferson. Today, UV has more than 15,000 undergraduates enrolled alone. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report ranks UV as the No. 24 best university in the nation. Several UV alumni are famous for their contributions to the world, such as Katie Couric, U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, and, though he never finished his education at UV, Edgar Allen Poe.

In recent years, online education has become an important option at many U.S. postsecondary institutions. Virginia’s colleges and universities clearly recognize this, as is evidenced by their creation of the Electronic Campus of Virginia. This online campus is an initiative formed by several of the state’s colleges and universities, both public and private. Through the Electronic Campus of Virginia, students have access to the hundreds of online courses offered by both community and four-year postsecondary institutions in the Virginia. These courses can be applied to degree plans for those enrolled in any of the participating schools, as well as those enrolled in online degree programs at other universities.

Virginia Distance Learning Initiatives

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, which is the board responsible for managing higher education in the state, also recognizes the importance of distance learning in higher education. It hosts a "Distance Learning Options" page on its website that is devoted to educating prospective students about distance education. The page discusses the advantages and disadvantages of distance education and the forms it can take. It also provides students with a list of schools and consortiums that offer online college degree programs and course options.

Moreover, Virginia is a member of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). This board is a collaboration of multiple U.S. states that work to increase access to higher education; in addition to working with traditional education, SREB also works to meet the needs of students who necessitate schools with online degree programs. As such, the SREB recognized that students in online degree programs in Virginia, as well as other states, were missing an initiative similar to the Academic Common Market program in which traditional students participate. Thus, it began its Academic Common Market/Electronic Campus Program, which allows those enrolled in uncommon online bachelors degree programs and online masters degree programs to participate in higher education in two ways they weren’t able to before. First, it grants students in any of the 16 SREB participating states the ability to take uncommon courses online through any participating schools, regardless of where the school is located. Second, online students are now able to realize in-state tuition rates, despite their state of residence.