Online Colleges in Virginia

2013 - 2014's Revolutionary Online Degree Programs in Virginia

University of Virginia

In cooperation with massive open online course (MOOC) provider Coursera, the University of Virginia has opened registration for the first of its 11 free MOOCs that it is offering this fall. "Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction" is an eight-week-long course featuring five pre-recorded discussions with historical fiction authors. Students will have an opportunity for follow-up with these writers through the use of online chats and forums. The first half of the course will require the reading of several historical fiction novels, including works from such authors as Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, and William Wells Brown. Lectures will be based on selected excerpts from the novels. In the second half of the course, students will study the craft of creating a work of historical fiction, and they will be given the opportunity to begin creating their own work as well.

In addition to the course on historical fiction, the University of Virginia is also offering a free MOOC on the life, administration and legacy of John F. Kennedy. "The Kennedy Half Century" will introduce students to how the policies and assassination of Kennedy have influenced the American public, media, and the presidents who have followed. In fact, Kennedy's legacy has had such a lasting impact, every president since has used Kennedy's words in an effort to align themselves with his political image. Marking 50 years since his assassination, the course will strive to understand less about Kennedy himself and more about how his life has influenced the times today. It will delve into certain elements of his legacy in the context of our modern political system, and look to understand some of the problems that have developed over the last 50 years. The course asks why Kennedy has made such an impact, and whether that impact will continue into the next half century.

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech professor Tom Sanchez recently completed the school's first foray into MOOCs. Partnering with Ohio State University professor Jennifer Evans-Cowley, the two introduced students to how technology is affecting urban planning in their "TechniCity" course held on Coursera. The free online course boasted an enrollment of about 21,000 people from more than 70 different countries. Students learned how technology can be applied to solve the problems that cities are facing today. Although Virginia Tech has not officially partnered with Coursera, the school is having ongoing discussions with several MOOC platform providers about the best ways to serve students at their institution.

Currently, Virginia Tech offers more than 350 classes online, including 79 entire programs ranging from masters degrees to certificate and non-credit programs. Virginia Tech has also joined a seven-school consortium offering an online graduate program in animal breeding and genetics. The online courses are meant to be used as a supplement to existing degree programs in animal breeding and genetics. Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the program assists students interested in the field by providing access to the specialized curricula that may not otherwise be available due to the decreasing number of faculty in the specialization.

Employment Opportunities in Virginia

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (, 2012) estimates that a bachelor's degree holder earns an average of $1 million more over a lifetime than someone with only a high school diploma. Even more, an individual with a doctorate can expect to earn $1 million more than a bachelor's graduate. Unfortunately, according to U.S. Census data from the 2012 American Community Survey, only 43 percent of Virginians over 25 possess a postsecondary degree. That leaves over half the state's workforce with, at best, only a high school diploma.

Thanks to the rise of online education, students in Virginia now have more options for higher education. A growing number of schools in the state have begun offering virtual degree programs, including institutions like the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech. Now a viable alternative to traditional college, online schools can provide a new way for students to get the education they need today - and help prepare them for the careers of tomorrow.

Advantages of Online Education for Students in Virginia

For Virginians pursuing higher education, there are numerous advantages to an online degree program. Most online schools allow students to follow curriculum at their own pace, accessing lectures and coursework anytime their schedule permits. This affords working adults, as well as those with a family, the ability to balance an education with their other obligations. Unlike campus classes, which meet at a fixed time and location, students can log on to online courses from anywhere with an Internet connection. This is especially beneficial for students located far from local campuses, as well as those traveling frequently for work.

Additionally, while traditional college courses tend to fill up quickly, online programs typically do not have enrollment caps. These virtual classrooms, open to anyone who qualifies, also allow students to work with peers and instructors from around the globe and across the professional landscape. Through coursework, online classmates will be introduced to technologies that are quickly becoming commonplace in businesses both big and small. For example, Virginia Tech utilizes interactive videoconferencing to deliver its master's degree programs, available in concentrations such as aerospace engineering, political science, and information technology.

Trends in Online Education: Public and Private Online Schools in Virginia

Many schools in Virginia now feature online education options, including some of the biggest institutions in the state. While many, such as George Mason University, currently only offer individual courses, a growing number have begun to offer full degree programs. The University of Virginia currently has a limited set of certificate and graduate programs available, such as M.A. in Physics Education and Master of Engineering in Electrical and Computer Engineering. On the other hand, Old Dominion is one of the nation's largest providers of online learning. They host a wide range of available programs, from a B.S. in Criminal Justice to a M.S. in Dental Hygiene to a Ph.D. in English.

The Southern Regional Education Board is a nonprofit organization comprised of governors, legislators, and educators dedicated to helping students in the region find quality education options. Launched in 2008, its Electronic Campus is a database of online education offerings from schools throughout the South. Prospective students can browse courses and degrees by subject area, institution, and program level. As of January 2013, it features 51 programs from 27 schools located in Virginia.

Many national online colleges also offer online programs to students in Virginia. Typically, these schools have featured virtual education for longer than their brick and mortar counterparts, and boast a wider range of degrees. Some, such as Strayer University and ITT Technical Institute, even have campuses in Virginia where students can attend class as well. Prospective students should research different schools and degree options to find a program that fits both their personal and academic needs.

Entry Requirements and Application Process for Virginia Online Colleges

As with traditional degrees, the application process for online programs differs from school to school. Interested students should contact an admissions advisor for details on specific entry requirements and tuition costs. Most national online schools have counselors available to answer questions immediately online. To learn more about online learning options in your area, or to start the application process today, request information from one of the colleges below.


2012, American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau,

"First Look: Post-Completion Wages of Graduates," State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, Accessed Nov. 7, 2013,

Mason Online, George Mason University,

Old Dominion University Distance Learning,

Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus,
University of Virginia,

Virginia Tech Online,

View Online College Courses in Virginia Below

This list also contains online colleges that accept students from Virginia.

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