(Source: Katie Roenigk, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Moscow, Idaho (MCT) — The more than 3,000 students enrolled at Washington State University’s online campus will have the opportunity to explore a new degree when they sign up for classes next fall.
For the first time, Cougars who take classes via the Internet can pursue a Bachelor of Science in psychology.
Samathana Swindell, a WSU professor who helped develop some of the psychology courses offered online, said the new degree comes as the result of student demand.
“For a long time there has been a tremendous interest among students majoring in a general social science area,” Swindell said. “They’re interested in pursuing psychology specifically.”
Administrators have known for several years that a psychology degree would be appreciated by the online student body, but Swindell said the time was not right to launch the new program until recently.
“We’ve been offering several classes, but we weren’t able to put together a full curriculum for an online degree,” Swindell said, explaining that funding and faculty had to be recruited for the expansion. “But that opportunity recently became available, so we spoke to faculty about that possibility and were able to move forward. … We had people well-positioned to be able to develop those courses, and we seemed to foresee we’d be able in the long term to have instructors to teach those courses.”
Rebecca Craft, chair of the psychology department, said it is difficult to quantify how much it cost to develop the online psychology degree.
“We developed the courses required for the major over many, many years,” Craft said this week.
Officials said the degree offers a comprehensive understanding of basic psychology and knowledge of scientific methods.
According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook for psychologists is projected to grow by 22 percent from 2010-2012 – faster than average. Swindell said the online psychology degree offers students a “highly marketable” set of talents that will prepare them for graduate work in psychology, social work, education, law, medicine and business.
“We emphasize critical thinking (and) developing communication skills, whether written or oral, and I think that skill set applies across a variety of different career interests or job openings,” she said. “And I think there’s a lot of interest in psychology as a discipline in general, just understanding human behavior. Many people have fundamental questions about human behavior.”
She guessed that online students will be eager to take advantage of the new psychology degree, but officials at WSU’s Center for Distance and Professional Education say it is too soon to gauge enrollment numbers for the fall.
They have received a handful of inquiries about the degree already, however, and Richard Miller, the senior marketing communications coordinator for WSU Online, said he quickly heard from one student who now plans to earn a psychology degree. Previously, the student was working toward a degree in social sciences with an emphasis in developmental psychology.
Swindell said her department strives to ensure online students receive an education in psychology that is comparable to the one students earn when they study on campus, though she added that there are fewer classes available online currently.
“That’s something we’ll be able to address in the coming years,” she said. “In terms of just core learning goals, we see the online program as equivalent to the on-campus program.”
The deadline to apply for fall semester is July 13, and all transcripts must be sent by July 17. For resident undergraduates in fall 2013, online courses will cost $569 per credit for part-time students, or $5,693 total for full-time students taking 10-18 credits.
For nonresidents, the cost of an online degree is $729 per credit for part-time students, or $7,283 total for full-time students taking 10-18 credits.
In comparison, undergraduate state residents who study on campus next semester will pay about $10,800 total in tuition, and out-of-state undergraduates will pay $23,956.
Katie Roenigk can be reached at (208) 882-5561, ext. 301, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2012 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho)
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