In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, a college education has never been more important. Traditionally, students earned their college degrees through on-campus classes, but the University of Nebraska at Omaha and many other universities have expanded their services into cyberspace to provide nontraditional students access to more career opportunities.
Regina Toman, Assistant Dean of the College of Public Affairs and Community Services, said on-line education across the country has been very successful.
“It’s advancing and growing so much that I know, particularly at UNO, we try to make sure the quality is at a very high standard so students get a really great experience,” Toman said.
With more than 100 bachelors, masters and online degree certificate programs listed on UNO’s website, the university not only offers a wide variety of online degree programs but also exceeds expectations. UNO’s Bachelor of General Studies and Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice online programs nationally ranked 17th and 18th respectively in a recent U.S. News and World Re-port review.
Toman said the flexibility of the online program is what has enabled it to become so successful in helping nontraditional students with busy schedules gain access to higher education.
“You can do the course work at your own convenience, and you’re not actually going to a physical place to sit in a class at a specific time,” Toman said. “If doing the work at midnight works for you, or five in the morn-ing, that is great.”
Students have the option to complete their degree completely on-line or in a hybrid program, combining online course work and classes at off campus locations such as Offutt Air Force Base. Classes are also held at several local high schools and even Metropolitan Community College locations.
“We have partnerships with those facilities and what that does is al-low us to offer classes in the evenings, on the weekends and late afternoon,” Toman said. “Those times work for students who may be working and can’t get to campus during the day.”
The completely online program works better for students like Brittney McMahon, who is currently completing a bachelor of general studies degree with a focus in criminology and criminal justice from UNO while living out of state.
“I dropped out of UNL (University of Nebraska–Lincoln) two years ago with one year of school left,” McMahon said. “I moved to California, and for two years I wanted to finish my degree, but had no desire to move back to Nebraska.”
McMahon wanted to transfer as many credits as possible so she could complete her degree in a timely manner. She was not satisfied with UNL’s online options, and decided to look into UNO’s online programs instead.
“One of the options [at UNO] was to focus on criminal justice, and at UNL I had taken many criminal justice classes already,” McMahon said. “It was perfect because I had credit towards the degree, and it was something I was interested in and had previously studied.”
Not only has McMahon been able to work on her degree from out of state, but out of the country as well while traveling to Ecuador last semester. She also simultaneously at-
tended a ministry school while in California.
With one semester left to go, Mc-Mahon said she does not have any specific plans in mind for after graduation but knows there will be many more opportunities available once she completes her degree.
“This program enabled me to gain access to the kind of education you can’t get from books, but from seeing the world we live in,” McMahon said. “I think having any kind of degree opens many doors that would not have been opened be-fore. Many careers require a degree, and in order to reach your goals and dreams—this is the first step.”