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Just a Click Away: NMJC Receives Approval for All Online Degrees

6/8/2009 11:56:13 p.m. - Hobbs, NM. New Mexico Junior College recently received full approval by the Higher Learning Commission to offer all three of its associate degrees online, which will provide additional educational opportunities to students anywhere in the world.

In an almost unprecedented move, the Higher Learning Commission, the federal accreditation source for colleges and university, granted complete approval to NMJC for the Associate of Arts, the Associate of Science, and the Associate of Applied Science degrees. According to Larry Sanderson, NMJC’s Director of Institutional Effectiveness, receiving full approval for all degree programs from the HLC is unusual.  He explained that typically, a college gets approval for degrees in one or two programs, and based on that experience, the college will file another application with HLC to get approval for another degree program.  “It’s very rare for blanket approval right out the box,” Sanderson said.  “Usually when a college first applies for approval for degree programs, they get a site visit. NMJC was approved without a site visit.  Not getting a site visit is unusual, but more than anything this speaks well of the program that’s been built.”  

Dean of Training and Outreach Jeff McCool, who is primarily responsible for the online program, is understandably excited about the approval. “This is just phenomenal,” McCool said.  “This is a wonderful accomplishment for the institution and a great opportunity for NMJC to be able to have this.  We’ve offered online courses for a number of years, but now students can take online courses and plug those courses into a degree plan and eventually earn a complete online degree.”

A national trend shows that more students are obtaining their education through online courses and degree programs, which makes the approval even more significant, McCool said. “In effect, this makes higher education more accessible for everyone. If we make higher education more accessible—by offering both traditional, face-to-face degree programs on campus along with online degree programs—then NMJC can broaden the scope of its marketing and increase the number of potential students who can be served,” he said.  “That’s obviously a win-win for everyone.”

NMJC President Steve McCleery sees ways in which online degrees will help others as well.  “Our faculty and staff have worked for several years to build our online courses, and we see the results of these efforts paying off not only for our students but also for area employers.  I’m proud of the quality of all our programs and am particularly excited about the new programs that will serve the expanding nuclear industry in our region.”

Sanderson sees the approval as just the beginning. “Online education is an important part of the current NMJC offering, accounting for over 20% of our annual student credit hours,” he said.  “Approval to offer complete degree programs online will allow NMJC to take to program to the next level for all students everywhere.”

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