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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

UF Online delivers high-quality degrees remotely

Program reaches No. 1 for second year

If not for UF Online, education wouldn’t be possible for students like Aubrey Mys. 

Mys, who completed the program from Tampa, needed an education option that allowed her to raise her 2-year-old son. 

“I really felt like I had no other option,” Mys said. “I applied to UF Online, and sure enough, I got it.”

Mys, 22, graduated with degrees in psychology and sociology at the end of Spring 2022.

Mys was looking for a program that would allow her to continue her education on her own time. She’s now set to graduate from UF Levin College of Law in 2025 and wants to pursue health care law. 

The program was named the No. 1 online bachelor’s program in the country for the second year in a row by U.S. News and World Report. UF Online was created in 2014 and is known for its high-caliber classes and flexibility, according to students. 

UF Online came in response to SB 1076, legislation passed in 2013 that aimed to compel Florida universities to create online programs. UF and FSU, as leading research universities, fulfilled the 12 qualifications required to allow them to offer online bachelor’s programs at no more than 75% of the in-state tuition rate.

Outgoing UF Provost Joe Glover and Associate Provost for Teaching and Technology Andy McCollough were determined to make the program equivalent in quality to in-person degrees, said Evangeline Cummings, UF Online’s director. The program is run through the UF Academic Affairs office to ensure standards are met.

In 2015, Cummings came on as the director of UF Online, and with Glover and McCollough, saw the program rise to No. 1 in 2022. 

“There are very few institutions nationally delivering online degree programs like we are,” Cummings said. 

Used for its accessibility, UF Online caters to students from a wide variety of backgrounds for 60% of the in-person cost of tuition. For a Florida resident, UF Online is $129.18 per credit hour, compared to $212.71 for in-person classes.  

Dana Normandie, a 19-year-old UF psychology junior in Connecticut, works full time as an IT technician for Killingly Public Schools and coaches high school track. Normandie received her associates degree in computer science from her local community college. 

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“I'm now majoring in psychology for my bachelor's because I'm really interested in AI and how technology is advancing,” Normandie said. “I'm trying to learn the psychological portion of that right now.” 

Normandie is excited about UF becoming a leading AI university, she said, and is considering taking a medical route in AI. 

“Just because I hold so many other obligations outside of the classroom, I don't think it would be physically possible for me to juggle everything if it wasn't for UF Online,” Normandie said.

Others, like UF anthropology student Peggy Neal, use UF Online to juggle her studies with the small business she and her husband run on the west coast of Florida and her children’s homeschooling.

“I don't have a lot of time that I can spend on my education in a traditional setting,” Neal said. “UF Online affords me that time — that flexibility — to be able to do this.” 

Neal participated in extracurriculars like the International Scholars Program and the Peace Corp Prep Program. 

“I'm hoping to parlay my knowledge of cultures, society [and] language into helping humanity on a larger scale,” Neal said. “Helping us to kind of foster an understanding of some of the issues that are really pressing, like poverty and homelessness.” 

The Pathway to Campus Enrollment admissions program also falls under UF Online. PaCE allows students to do their first 60 credits online and then take in-person classes at UF.

Lexy Cohen, a 20-year-old UF PaCE student and graphic design sophomore, follows a hybrid schedule where she takes general education classes online and major courses in person, she said. 

“Having that flexibility of being able to schedule classes on my own time, but also be super involved here on campus was just such a perfect option for me,” Cohen said. 

Cohen is involved in Greek life, Dance Marathon and Ad Society –  a professional advertising club. 

UF Online students earn the same degree as on-campus students, and are welcome to take advantage of UF clubs, programs, events and buildings, Cummings said. 

“UF Online is a really great example of the inclusion that we talk a lot about, but we really demonstrate through UF Online,” Cummings said. “You can be at any age, life stage, and still be a Gator.”

Contact Ella at Follow her on Twitter @elladeethompson

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Ella Thompson

Ella Thompson is a third-year journalism major who's on general assignment for The Alligator's metro desk. In her free time, she likes to read, cook and think of feature stories for The Alligator.

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