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Taking business online

Southern Oregon University launched its first entirely online accelerated degree in an effort to extend higher education opportunities to those for whom online options may be the only feasible way to get a degree.

The new Master's in Business Administration program is unique among SOU's degree offerings for a few reasons: Although taught by SOU professors, it can theoretically be completed entirely remotely; students can stop and resume classes at their own pace and go in the order they like; and the classes themselves are only seven weeks long, three weeks shorter than traditional 10-week classes.

SOU President Linda Schott said the new program is intended to accommodate a wider range of prospective students.

"Part of our new vision and mission at SOU is to provide better educational opportunities for learners of all ages throughout their lives," she said. "We certainly have adults over 25 studying at SOU, but to do so they had to come to campus and take classes, or take semester-format classes."

The flexibility offered by these shorter, more accessible classes is designed for prospective students who may have full-time jobs, may not live locally or may need to pause and resume their education for various reasons. SOU partnered with an organization that works to launch online programs at universities across the nation, called Academic Partnerships. The company has partnered with over 50 universities to launch 4,800 online courses since its founding in 2007, its website said.

Academic Partnerships receives a portion of tuition money and takes on a lot of the marketing and promotion role to attract students. It also provides support staff who help SOU professors develop courses for an online format and help facilitate communication with students.

Schott said that the university is also partnering with several Rogue Valley businesses as "corporate sponsors." Those businesses will promote the MBA program among their employees and will receive a discount on tuition in exchange.

Schott said SOU is considering adding an online Master's of Education next.

"We’re just very excited about being able to offer this opportunity to adult learners and help out employers and people in this region," she said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at 541-776-4497 or ktornay@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ka_tornay.