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Online Enrollment Setting the Pace at Penn State

Pennsylvania State University is among the acknowledged leaders for online education in the ranks of top tier traditional universities. The University's World Campus accounted for two thirds of the increase in undergraduate enrollment this academic year, according to University V.P. for Undergraduate Education Robert Pangborn.

"Pennsylvania resident enrollments have grown very modestly," Pangborn said, "with much of the increase attributable to online learners, while the enrollment of non-Pennsylvania residents -- which includes international enrollments -- has expanded steadily, again with a significant portion of the growth coming from online learners."

More that 25% of Penn State's graduate students are now online. The administrative staff attributes that fact to the quality and mix of graduate degrees now available through the distance learning program. Among the more popular master's degree options are homeland security degrees and public health degrees.

The fact that the graduate programs are being driven by new enrollments from off campus suggests that many of the students are currently in the workforce and wish to improve their academic credentials. Other programs that seem to have sparked the online graduate degree interest are in supply chain management, a field that has developed a high profile among business professionals due to the global nature of business logistics, both for manufacturers and in many of the white collar professions. Tax returns are being jobbed out to India by American accountants.

Human resources and employee relations are also fields of interest in the Penn State online graduate programs. There has been a fundamental shift in the employee-employer relationships that characterize most business sectors in this country today. There are very few careers that begin and end with the same firm; many of the benefits that used to be a given in many businesses are now vastly reduced if they remain in place at all.

The professionals who handle development and management of a work force are developing more sophisticated training programs, and learning to work with employees that no longer hold the loyalty spawned by long term employment.

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