The Board of Trustees on Thursday unanimously approved a proposal to charge market-rate tuition for three online master's degree programs.
If the Board of Governors gives final approval during its meeting next week, pricing for the Master of Arts in Mass Communication, Master of Science in Soil and Water Science and Master of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning degrees will be determined by market forces.
The price of similar programs at other schools will be one such force, Provost Joe Glover said.
Market rate for the degree programs may be more expensive than the residential programs, but the Board of Governors has required that tuition be increased by no more than 15 percent each year.
Glover said although the online programs could be more expensive than traditional programs, charging market-rate tuition benefits students because it increases UF's accessibility.
Without charging market-rate tuition for distance-learning master's programs, he said, UF wouldn't be able to recover the cost of starting the programs.
Although the programs may be more expensive, he said, people who can't sacrifice two to four years to a full-time, residential degree program will still be able to profit from a UF degree.
Student Body President Anthony Reynolds said he thought the proposal was a good idea.
"My first concern was an increase in cost to students," he said.
But, Reynolds said, he realized the proposal would create an incentive for UF to be more accessible to people who want to expand their academic careers.
Some trustees were concerned that the market rate for the online Mass Communication degree would cost twice as much as the residential degree.
UF Trustee Susan Cameron said it's important to recognize there will be no increase in tuition for master's students, since the proposal would only affect the three entirely new programs.