Online Degree, Online Courses and Distance Learning in Puerto Rico

About Online Degree, Online Courses and Distance Learning 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.

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