Claflin Online Offers Accessible, Flexible Career-Focused Education

Feb 27, 2016
When Claflin University administrators discussed offering online degree programs, their mission was to provide access to exemplary academic programs though undergraduate, graduate, continuing education, and certificate programs. “We think we have accomplished that," said Dr. Anisah Bagasra, Claflin's interim director of online education.  “We are providing an innovative learning environment that replicates the interaction and community students value in our on-campus classes." 

"It was a natural progression that Claflin would offer its high-quality programs to those unable, for a variety of reasons, to take on-campus classes," said Provost Karl S. Wright. “Offering online education is consistent with Claflin's goal of providing student-centered leaning experiences that prepare our graduates to enter the workforce,” Wright said.  "We are focused on the success of all students, regardless of where, when and how they access our widely-respected faculty, and nationally-recognized academic programs.” 

Claflin Online was launched in the 2014 summer term. Initially, the private, liberal arts university offered 35 online summer courses. The courses were developed and offered to support the needs of continuing education students who were enrolled in adult degree completion programs. Traditional students can take online courses in the summer while away from the campus completing internships, study abroad, or working in their respective home towns. In the fall of 2014, Claflin Online morphed into three-degree programs – Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management and a Master of Business Administration (MBA). The bachelor's degree programs can be completed in 18 months while the MBA can be completed in 12 months. All were selected after initial assessments had indicated they were needed. 

 “Our initial offerings were industry driven,” Bagasra said. “We looked at what was not offered in the area and what people indicated they wanted and needed. We wanted to fill a void and offer working adults the opportunity to earn degrees that would enhance their career development." 

Many of the students in the criminal justice major work 12-hour shifts in law enforcement, alternating from day to night shift, making it difficult for them to attend on-campus classes.  

“We recognized they were missing out on the opportunity to pursue college degrees because they were busy protecting the community,” she said. “A major advantage of Claflin Online is that it provides students an opportunity to complete classes on a schedule that works best for them.”   

The Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction was added in the 2015 fall semester. Claflin's goal was to attract at least 10 students but 16 enrolled in the program. Claflin Online now has approximately 100 students and is looking to add more. Future plans include offering online degrees in sociology, psychology and nursing.  

"Again, our decision to offer specific programs online was based on market trends and demands. We identified programs that benefit industry, our students and improve the quality of life in South Carolina,” Bagasra said.

Claflin's online students range from ages 22 to 63 according to Bagasra.  Many started college more than 10 years ago. Since then they have launched, and in some cases changed careers, and raised families. Some are grandparents but they realize it's never too late to earn a college degree.  And, for those students who are anxious about relying on the computer and digital technology, Claflin has counselors and tutors who help to remove those concerns. The program offers small classes, computers, and support and assistance with the transition from a classroom environment. 

Claflin has entered a competitive marketplace, as online degree programs are plentiful. However, Bagasra strongly believes that Claflin’s reputation as one of the nation’s leading institutions and its student support services distinguishes Claflin Online from all the rest.

Claflin was selected the 2015 AARP/HBCU Digest HBCU of the Year.  U.S. News and World Report has consistently ranked Claflin as one of “America’s Best Colleges” for the past 17 years and the magazine again ranked the University a top tier national liberal arts college. Washington Monthly ranked Claflin the number-one liberal arts college in South Carolina and the top HBCU in the nation in its 2015 annual College Guide.  Additionally, the 50 Best Value Colleges for a Criminal Justice Degree website ranked Claflin in 2015 among the nation's top 25 programs. The organizational management and MBA programs are internationally accredited by the Accreditation Council of Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

For more information about Claflin Online, visit www.claflin.edu/cuonline or call (803) 535-5658.

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