DePaul University is massive, covering areas of Chicago in Lincoln Park and the Loop area of downtown, as well as offering classes in 3 surrounding suburban campuses. Called St Vincent’s when it was built in 1898, it stands as the largest Roman Catholic school in the country, has been showered with numerous acclaims (from being named a top tier university by US News and World Report to almost winning college of the year from Time and the Princeton Review). It is nationally recognized in its teaching methods, choosing to focus on problem solving and experiential, real world service as opposed to just black and white, in class lecturing. “Founded on the Vincentian principle of access to everyone”, DePaul uses every tool it has available, from internships to an expansive distance learning program, an online offshoot of their School for New Learning program.
Started in 1972, the School for New Learning was designed to address the needs of adults looking to be start learning, or further their educations to stay competitive in an ever changing workforce. Focusing on “learning from experience” and self-created learning programs, the SNL strove to enrich the competence in their students (regardless of age), stressing analytical skills to create the tools necessary to succeed at a number of tasks. With over 25,000 students enrolled between nine different schools, the campus realized that it had to ensure their value on “access” to all looking to learn from this incredibly resourced university weren’t limited to their admittedly large campus. Because of this, DePaul created the Online SNL to allow for students over the age of 24 (or college age students homebound by health reasons) to mold and institute their own degree programs without ever having to set foot on a campus.
Though online classes aren’t restricted to non-campus enrollees (mixing online and in class is the norm these days), the Online SNL is designed for “busy, working adults”, taking into account their experiences in the work force when creating degree programs, rather than just making them relearn things they’ve done hands on. An online, “customized” Bachelor’s of Arts degree can be achieved entirely from home, using the same time frame as normal courses, but with flexible hours for study and learning. Adult learners in the Online SNL are given access to the same resources, library materials, and professor guidance as all students through the internet and can achieve the B.A. in the same time as an oncampus student (sometimes faster depending on how their experience in the workforce and a “competency checklist” that determines credit towards degrees).
They also offer graduate degrees for the adult student who can’t find the time to continue their education. They offer a weekend MBA using online, hybrid, or web-enhanced programs, with those out of town students being given finals and projects that are sometimes proctored in the area close to the student when needed. DePaul’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business isn’t the only school offering online graduate degrees, though. Their College of Computing and Digital Media offers Master’s of Science in a dozen concentrations, as well as a Master’s of Arts in Information Technology completely online, with both sometimes utilizing their Course Online program (recording whole on campus classes to be viewed by learners online during class, or at their leisure).
Of course the School of Education offers online courses, also giving opportunities to do hands on work or workshops in areas close to the returning students. Utilizing their weekends or off times, this gives educators looking to further their abilities time to do so without interfering with job or family. There are also online graduate degrees in DePaul’s School of Public Service, their largest Liberal Arts & Sciences graduate program, teaching nonprofit and government organizations the skills to succeed in a not for riches area. This is in addition to a large number of certification programs, all of which can be completed without campus centered work, but can still utilize all the amenities and perks of the campus.
Being one of the 10 largest private schools in the country, DePaul uses its own research and development to ensure learning doesn’t just end at their campus boundaries, but extends its mission of allowing access to all seeking knowledge to the four points of the compass with Blackboard and their Online SNL.