Online degree programs in Alabama have existed for more than ten years, and have since expanded to provide both undergraduate and graduate level degrees in fields as diverse as education and liberal arts to hospitality management and criminal justice. As distance learning becomes more and more appealing to working professionals and non-traditional students with other serious time commitments, more Alabamians pursue their educations online. Even some high school students in the Heart of Dixie take online classes as part of their graduation requirements.
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Of the online colleges in Alabama, the University of Alabama, a 4-year research university, offers 90 online programs.
The Cotton State’s employment growth has been slower compared to most states, a consequence of both the recession and a shrinking public sector. For its economic recovery to be successful, Alabama must rely on its largest employment industries.
The state has about 1.8 million employed workers. The average wage of Alabama employees is less than the average wage for employees across the country. In the US, workers earn approximately $42,871 per year. However, in Alabama, workers earn approximately $38,590 per year. The highest paid workers in the state earn over $69,670 annually, while the lowest paid workers earn under $16,470 annually. The median annual income for employees is approximately $29,570.
Tuition may vary for online college courses based on factors including the type and location of the institution as well as the program. The average in-state tuition at the public four-year colleges and universities in Alabama was $6,156 per year. Public community and technical colleges charged students an average of $2,727 per year. Annual tuition at private accredited online colleges ranged from $10,320 to $25,110.
The same regional group that determines whether or not brick-and-mortar programs meet certain academic standards accredits Alabama online schools. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges confers accreditation to schools in the South at all levels of higher education (from bachelor’s to master’s and doctoral degrees). The Alabama Commission on Higher Education is another state-level organization that maintains standards of academic rigor between Alabama schools.
Alabama, named from the Alabama River, which was named by early European explorers after the local Indian tribe “Alibamu”, is located in the Southeast region of the United States. The state, which has an area of 52,420 square miles, is the 22nd smallest in the nation. Approximately 63°F is Alabama’s average annual temperature.
Alabama has the 23rd largest population in the nation. The state has 67 counties and 4,779,736 residents residing in these counties. An estimated 40 percent of Alabama’s population is under the age of 30. Additionally, it has one of the least diverse populations in the nation with about 33 percent of the population identifying itself as belonging to a racial or ethnic minority group.
Although Alabama’s capital city is Montgomery, the largest city in the state is Birmingham, with a population of 212,237 residents. Of the state’s residents, approximately 22.52 percent reside in the greater Birmingham area. Some of the other populous cities in Alabama include Montgomery, Mobile, Huntsville, and Tuscaloosa.
Alabama residents normally have a higher than average level of education as compared to those around the US. According to the 2010 Census, about 20.7 percent of the state’s residents over the age of 25 have completed high school, 5.8 percent have at least an associate degree, 4 percent have degrees at the bachelor’s level or higher, and 1 percent hold a graduate level degree.