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The Rise of Nonprofit Online Schools

Online education has exploded in the last two decades with for profit and nonprofit institutions alike offering certificates and degrees in all types of fields. For-profit schools or proprietary schools that offer distance education have existed for decades, offering programs in fields such as art, writing, medical office assisting and similar fields that where subject matter could be learned easily by independent studies. Students enrolled and received learning materials by mail and returned assignments by mail. Studies offered by these schools were known as correspondence courses that lead to certificates or degrees. Many of these schools were not accredited by regional accreditation agencies, so those who earned degrees sometimes found it difficult to get jobs, transfer to traditional schools or gain acceptance into a graduate program at a traditional college.

From Correspondence to Online Courses
The mailbox correspondence course model gave way to online courses. During the last two decades there has been an explosion of online universities and colleges offering almost any degree and certificate program imaginable. A large percentage of these programs are operated by proprietary or for profit colleges. Some of these institutions exist mainly in a virtual world with no brick and mortar classrooms. Others have satellite campuses in various locations throughout the country where students can attend classes.

Issues with For-Profit Online Schools
Many learners have taken advantage of online programs because of convenience. However proprietary online programs have dealt with the stigma of not being rigorous enough in their course work and accepting almost anyone who applies for admission. This is because the main reason for operating these programs is to make money. Although many online for-profit schools are accredited, and their graduates have been successful in the job market, there are many people, including employers who have doubts about the quality and rigor of for profit online schools.

Not-for-profit Colleges Go Online
Those who seek the quality and proven track record of traditional brick and mortar colleges, and universities have ample opportunities to earn degrees from online programs sponsored by those institutions. Almost every nonprofit college or university has some type of online degree or certificate program offering. Many offer advanced degrees, including masters and doctoral degrees. The rise of non-profit online schools means that the quality of online education is certain to become better. Many non-profit schools have a rich history, having been established in some cases as early as the 1700s.

Growth of Nonprofit Online Education
Those who choose to earn their degrees from non-profit online schools can choose to study online at an Ivy League or top-tier universities, since many of these schools now offer online programs. The U.S. News and World Report which ranks traditional colleges, also ranks online education programs. The most recent rankings of online colleges show that non-profit colleges which include both public and private are at the top of the list of online schools for bachelors degree programs. Factors cited in the rankings include faculty credentialing and training, student services and technology and student engagement, all of which are what students expect from traditional brick and mortar schools. The rankings report can be accessed at

Nonprofit Online Colleges Generally Cost Less
One major advantage of a non-profit online school is the cost. An online student who attends a public university generally pays the same tuition as on campus students. Even at the out-of-state rate, a public university or private non-profit college is a better bargain than for profit online schools.


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