Study and find schools in Puerto Rico

Officially referred to as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated protectorate of the United States, situated in the Caribbean Ocean.  The country is located to the east of the country known as the Dominican Republic and to the west of both the British and United States Virgin Islands.  Along with the main island of Puerto Rico, the country, which is officially categorized as an archipelago, consists of a number of smaller islands, the largest of which are Mona, Vieques and Culebra.  The capital and largest city of Puerto Rico is San Juan, which is also the main cultural, political and economical hub of the country.

Puerto Rico shares many cultural traits with the United States.  The official languages of the country are Spanish and English, the latter of which is also the official language of the United States.  English is used for many official purposes in Puerto Rico, including being the language of government and official communications.  Spanish, however, the “national language” of the country, is most commonly spoken among the Puerto Rican people.  Many people in Puerto Rico are bilingual, speaking both Spanish and English, as the latter is taught at an early age in the Puerto Rican school system, and is often the language of instruction in most of the country’s colleges and universities.

The Education System in Puerto Rico

The public education system in Puerto Rico is closely modeled after that of the United States, consisting of pre-primary or preschool education, primary school, and middle and higher secondary education.  Higher education also closely follows the American system, with undergraduate associate degrees (two years of study) and bachelor degrees (typically four years of study) offered in a variety of academic and professional disciplines.  Graduate research degrees in the country include the Master’s degree and, more rarely, the doctorate or PhD degree.  The doctorate of Education (D.Ed.) is also awarded by the appropriate teaching university in the country.  The professional post-graduate schools in Puerto Rico (law, medicine, etc.) have their own degrees comparable to the American law degree (J.D.), medical degree (M.D.), and Master’s of Business Administration (MBA).  Schooling in Puerto Rico is mandatory for children throughout the island for 11 years, beginning at age 5 and culminating at age 16, although enforcement of this law is spotty.

In addition to hosting a number of public and private colleges and universities, Puerto Rico is home to scores of public and private educational/technical programs for adults.  These programs range from basic classes in subjects such as reading, writing and the English language to undergraduate and post-graduate technical schools.  More specialized private postsecondary schools are also widely available in Puerto Rico, specializing in fields such as secretarial; computer programming, computer science and computer usage; hospitality management and tourism; television repair and electronics; and business management; among others.  These institutions vary immensely in quality, as not all of these schools face the same accreditation scrutiny that assures quality at the nation’s colleges and universities.

Except for classes in the English language, the language of instruction in all primary schools, middle schools and secondary schools in Puerto Rico is Spanish.  At the university level, both English and Spanish are used, with the exact language depending on the institution, course and instructor.  Public pre-university textbooks are printed in Spanish, save for those used in English classes; while at the university level, the books may be in either Spanish or English.

Although in the past access to information technology (IT) and resources was limited in most of Puerto Rico’s primary and secondary schools, recent years have seen greater access to these types of resources.  At the University of Puerto Rico, there is now a fairly high availability of computer clusters, work stations and web-access, not just for students of the sciences, but also for those pursuing degrees in the humanities as well.  Access to these types of resources can still be improved greatly, however, and is nowhere near that of the United States.  A substantial number of non-public educational facilities at the secondary and college-age level that specialize in practical IT training are located in the larger towns and cities.  These schools are very well-attended because they lead to positions in private and government enterprises that depend on computer literacy.

In total, there are approximately 50 institutions of tertiary or post-secondary education in Puerto Rico.  These include junior colleges, colleges and universities, as well as technical/educational centers that tend to focus on just a few (and sometimes only one) academic or professional disciplines.  Most of the colleges and universities are comprehensive, meaning they offer diplomas and degrees in a wide range of areas.  All education is the country is overseen by the Puerto Rican Department of Education and implemented at the local level.

Online degree, online courses and distance learning schools in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, with its close relationship with the United States as well as the many tourist dollars that help to bolster its economy, has been able to expand its offerings in the area of online degrees and distance learning at a rate considerably greater than most Caribbean island nations. Today, there are over 90 online-only institutions of higher learning based in Puerto Rico, and online degrees are offered at the Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s levels. Of course, there are also numerous programs that offer certificates, diplomas, and other non-degree courses intended to provide skills and knowledge without being bound by the requirements of degree-granting institutions. Most of Puerto Rico’s online institutes are recent startups, less than 10 years old, that have yet to generate momentum and demonstrate their quality. That quality, so far as it can be determined, runs the typical range from credible distance-learning courses to “diploma mills” and other scams.
Puerto Rico’s distance-learning market is much the same as those in any other country of comparable size and development. Certainly the advantages and disadvantages of online study are the same here as anywhere else. Working adults and people who do not have time for full-time studies find the flexible hours of an online program to be convenient, as is the ability to do schoolwork from anywhere rather than having to commute to a physical campus. Online education is also an excellent choice for people in rural areas of Puerto Rico, where getting to a campus is difficult and getting internet access is much easier. Of course, there are many problems with distance learning in Puerto Rico, mostly stemming from the lack of quality controls and the fact that unscrupulous people see distance learning as a cash cow rather than as an opportunity to provide genuine educational services to students who need them. In some cases, this inconsistency of quality makes online degrees appear less valid than traditional degrees, and the hiring practices of certain employers may make certain positions, especially the most desirable ones, unavailable to those whose degrees come from an online-only institution. Nonetheless, distance learning enables people in Puerto Rico to get degrees and vocational training who might otherwise be unable to do so. Carefully researched and diligently pursued, it can be an excellent option for prospective students in any country.
Online education is still in its infancy in Puerto Rico, so no reliable statistics are available on the number of people enrolled in accredited online programs, but the choices they make as consumers of educational products seem to paint a fairly clear picture. As in most other places around the world, students who are interested in online education are generally seeking practical and vocational degrees. The most popular choices for online degrees in Puerto Rico are nursing, business, education, and criminal justice.

Cities to study in Puerto Rico

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