Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts will be launching two new economics degrees through Penn State World Campus.
Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science economics degrees will be available for online students beginning in the spring 2013 semester, said Barry Ickes, associate head of the department of economics and professor of economics.
Many economics classes are already available online, but beginning in the spring, 400-level courses will be available for students to complete an economics degree, Ickes said.
The new degrees will be offered to expand students' choices of online majors, Assistant Dean for Online Education and Outreach Avis Kunz wrote in an email.
The college aims to make the online degrees the same as residence degrees and have the same graduation requirements, Ickes said. They hope to make the same high-quality Penn State education available to people who are unable to physically attend a campus.
"While many universities are now working with private consortiums to offer their degrees, the University and the College were able to build its own learning environment and teams of advisers and instructors that offer the same high quality education as the residential courses," Kunz wrote.
The new online degrees are a way to reach students, mostly adult learners, regardless of their location, Susan Welch, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, wrote in an email. World Campus provides an education to students in all parts of the world including students in the military, she wrote.
"Students without access to a campus can have access to a terrific Penn State degree," Welch wrote.
The College of the Liberal Arts was an early participant in Penn State World Campus, Kunz wrote. With demand for online degrees rising, the college saw value in extending Liberal Arts education to online learners.
The programs offered though World Campus are the same as on campus, however not as many courses are available, Kunz wrote. With increasing online enrollment, the college will be able to offer more courses in the future.
"Our online majors provide students at a distance with the opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge that are hallmarks of a liberal arts education, including critical thinking, communication, ethical imagination, and the understanding of the individual's role in a complex world," Kunz wrote.