The University of Wisconsin system has introduced a potentially revolutionary way to make college degrees more accessible, reports today's WSJ. The UW Flexible Option will allow students to take modular online courses when they want to. It will allow them to take tests that certify they have mastered course material and get college credit. So if you learned something through your own reading or experience or took a MOOC course, now you can get academic credit certifying that you have that knowledge. Various UW campuses will be rolling out degree programs based entirely on a combination of flexible online courses and credit by exam.
The program is being seen as a big plus for the 20% of Wisconsin residents who have some college credits but lack a degree. UW-Milwaukee will be the first school to offer degrees this fall with undergraduate degrees in diagnostic imaging, information science, and nursing plus masters degrees in nursing.
I looked very hard and could find no information on tuition rates for these new programs (aside: this tends to be the most difficult bit of data to obtain on any university website). WSJ reports that tuition will be significantly cheaper than the $6900/year average for undergrads in the UW system.
I applaud the innovative approach. I also hope the online students can still find the time to head to the UW-Madison student union and enjoy a pitcher of Ale Asylum Hopalicious with classmates on the shore of Lake Mendota.
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