Cal Could Cash In on Online Classes

Law school dean eyes rival Stanford's online offerings

A program that would offer online degrees from the University of California, Berkeley will be presented to the Board of Regents on Wednesday by law school Dean Christopher Edley.

The initial pilot would include 35 to 40 courses, and require $6 million in private contributions to fund. A description of the project and a slideshow presentation with video is available online, naturally.

The courses would focus on basic undergraduate requirements for language and math, which students at the large school have long complained it can be difficult to get into because demand outweighs supply, sometimes delaying graduation.

Making the courses available off-campus could also help students at community colleges earn credits ahead of a transfer.

While a number of public and private universities offer online courses with full credit and even complete degree programs, this would be a first for one of the country's premiere public schools.

The plan is not without opposition. Doctoral student Shane Boyle told the regents in May that it is a threat to public eduction. And the Faculty Association is arguing that it would give teachers less control over standards and curriculum while being a possible "boondoggle," the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Berkeley rival Stanford University offers a master of science degree to students who take courses entirely online and part-time through its Center of Professional Development. Applicants must go through the same admissions process as an on-campus graduate student.

Offering online degrees would cost Stanford's renowned School of Engineering less to provide, but would bring in the same tuition as from students attending on campus.

Budget cuts have lead to increased tuition fees across the University of California, leading to large protests across the system.

Jackson West wonders to what degree the growth of the University of Phoenix has spurred public schools online.

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