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CEI students can soon earn Associate of Arts degree entirely online


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IDAHO FALLS — Students at the College of Eastern Idaho soon have the opportunity to earn an Associate of Arts degree without ever stepping foot on campus.

The community college recently received the green light by its accreditation body, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, to offer an Associate of Arts (60 credits) all online. The degree program is already mostly online for students to get started, although it won’t be fully operational until this summer when a nutrition science class is added to the online roster.

“The premise of this whole thing has been about making sure we have classes that students need and giving them options,” CEI Director of Online Learning Services Ryan Faulkner said.

Faulkner started working at CEI in January 2018. Up until that point, online learning hardly existed at the former technical college. When Faulkner arrived, he was asked to head an online program. He’s talked with people at colleges across the United States learning about their school’s online experiences. That’s helped him in forming CEI’s online learning.

EITC Library1
Students working in the library. | Courtesy College of Eastern Idaho

During summer 2018, the college started with four online classes with 53 students enrolled. In fall 2019, the college was up to 17 different courses and 354 students. According to Faulkner, one quarter of their headcount was taking at least one online course during this time. This spring, they will offer 20 different classes and as it stands now, they’ll serve 12 different eastern Idaho counties and 30 cities.

“Every couple of weeks we’ll get an email about somebody, who for some reason, can’t be on campus for whatever reason,” Faulkner said.” (The online pathway to an AA Degree) is all about options, but it’s all about giving people the ability — at an affordable price — to get quality courses.”

There will be six brand new classes for the spring semester that have not been offered online before. Those include: Accounting 202, Art 101, Business 261, Math 123, Psychology 120 and Philosophy 103.

Online tutoring will be available and some of the online courses will be General Education Matriculation Stamped. That means they are classes that will transfer to other colleges in Idaho.

For students wanting to take specific electives, they might not be available online right now, but if somebody doesn’t have certain electives in mind, the online pathway to an AA degree is an option.

“We’re really excited about online learning,” CEI spokesman Todd Wightman said. “That is the future, as you know, and we want to do it right here.”