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The Higher Education Coordinating Council oversees higher learning in the state of Florida. It monitors the creation of new degree programs and the establishment of new institutes, campuses, or centers, as well as makes recommendations to the state. Its main goals are to promote an integrated continuum of kindergarten through graduate school education for Florida’s students; a consistent education policy across all educational delivery systems; a system that maximizes educational access and allows the opportunity for a high-quality education for all Floridians; and a system of coordinated and consistent transfer of credit and data collection for improved accountability.
Florida is dominated by a state university system that consists of 12 public colleges and universities serving more than 312,000 students. The Florida Board of Governors oversees these institutions. One of the board’s goals is to build a strong university system that helps Florida’s economic progress, especially in the areas of bioscience and other fields to create a new innovation sector of the Florida economy. More than 150,000 students are also served by the state’s private institutions. The Independent Colleges and Universities is an association of 31 private, not-for-profit educational institutions based in the state. Many of these public and private universities offer distance learning opportunities that provide flexible and accessible learning options for students. Here’s a look at some of the top institutions and their online offerings:
The University of Florida is a major public research university located in Gainesville and a member of the State University System of Florida. It is the state’s oldest university (established in 1853), as well as its most comprehensive, hosting 16 academic colleges and more than 150 research centers and institutes. It offers several graduate professional programs in such areas as business administration, engineering, law, and medicine, as well as 123 master’s degree programs and 76 doctoral degree programs. The school is considered a “Public Ivy,” a title given to top public universities that offer an Ivy League-caliber education, but at a more affordable price, and is ranked among the top public schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The report highlighted UF’s graduate schools in business, education, engineering, law, medical schools, as well as its online bachelor’s degree, business, education, engineering, and nursing programs. The school offers online college degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels through its distance learning program. Areas of study include education, health and health professions, liberal arts and sciences, nursing, and pharmacy.
The University of Central Florida is the second-largest university in the country, with 12 colleges in Orlando serving more than 58,000 students. It was established in 1963 and is a member of the State University System of Florida. The public school is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top schools in the nation, included among its list of top public schools and up-and-coming schools. Its part-time MBA, education, and engineering graduate schools were also ranked among the top programs in the country, and its online nursing program was included among the best online programs in U.S. News’s 2012 survey of the best online colleges. Since 1996, the school has expanded its services to include flexible, Web-based course delivery for both campus-based and off-campus, distance students. Today, the school offers more than two dozen 100% Web-based degree, degree-completion, and certificate programs, as well as hundreds of individual online college courses.
More than 174,000 students attend Miami Dade College across eight campuses in Florida. Students can choose from more than 300 programs of study at the vocational associate, and bachelor’s degree level. The college also offers continuing education classes and online credit classes through its Virtual College. Currently, more than 130 different courses are offered online, as well as fully online associate degree programs in business administration and a pre-bachelor of arts, as well as a college credit certificate. The Virtual College currently serves more than 6,000 active students.