November 12, 2012 16:48 ET

More Students Choosing Finish@UT as Path to College Degree

Online Program Helps Non-Traditional Students Complete Bachelor's Degrees

ARLINGTON, TX--(Marketwire - Nov 12, 2012) - Civic and business leaders are joining representatives of The University of Texas System this week to encourage North Texas students with core college credit to complete their bachelor's degree through a new online program, Finish@UT.

The program offers broad degree options and accelerated seven- to 15-week courses tailored to working professionals and students who may not be able to attend classes on a traditional college campus. Finish@UT students may choose degree programs from four fully accredited UT System institutions: The University of Texas at Arlington, The University of Texas at Brownsville, The University of Texas at El Paso and The University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

Finish@UT enrollment is gaining momentum as more students seek alternate degree paths toward college completion. The program is aligned with statewide goals of dramatically increasing the number of Texans with bachelor's degrees to by 2015.

Nationally, nearly one quarter of college students are parents, 32 percent work full-time, 25 percent are over the age of 30, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Online degree programs have proven popular with such non-traditional students.

"Finish@UT builds on our technological and pedagogical innovation and is an important initiative in helping non-traditional students achieve their college degrees," said Dr. Steven Mintz, executive director of the UT System Institute for Transformational Learning, which aims to enhance student learning and increase college graduation rates. "We want to ensure that all Texans have access to an affordable, quality education that emphasizes inquiry, exploration, active learning, and rigorous assessment."

A recent study by the Babson Survey Research Group found that almost a third of all students enrolled in institutions of higher education were enrolled in one or more online course. The study also found that enrollment in online programs is growing by 10 percent a year compared with 2 percent for the overall higher education student population.

More than 6.1 million students were enrolled in at least one online course during the fall 2010 term, an increase of 560,000 students over the previous year, the study found.

Philip Martinez of San Antonio enrolled at UTEP through Finish@UT last semester. A 52-year-old veteran, Martinez said his college degree will help him as he pursues a career working with other veterans.

"It's never too late, and no obstacle is too big to overcome," Martinez said. "Finish@UT makes it so much easier. I can study any time without leaving my home."

Buddy Puente, board chairman of Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County, noted that federal labor surveys consistently show that the unemployment rate for adults 25 and older with a bachelor's degree is less than half that of adults who have only a high school diploma.

"Business owners and those of us focused on strengthening our workforce know that college graduates fuel our economy," said Puente, owner of Southwest Office Systems. "Programs like Finish@UT provide more Texans a path to achieve their academic dreams and help us develop a highly educated workforce."

Dr. Michael Moore, UT Arlington senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies, said Finish@UT program has enhanced the University's portfolio of online and blended learning programs. About 27 percent of all students enrolled at UT Arlington last year took at least one online course.

"We're proud of our increasing enrollment in the Finish@UT program," Moore said. "It has become another, successful tool for us to increase the numbers of students graduating with the highest quality education from UT Arlington."

About Finish@UT
Finish@UT is a fully online, bachelor's degree completion program designed to help students achieve their academic goals and gain quality education. Qualifying students have completed core college credit courses, such as those required for an associate degree. Finish@UT students may choose to pursue their bachelor's degree through The University of Texas at Arlington, The University of Texas at Brownsville, The University of Texas at El Paso or The University of Texas of the Permian Basin. The application deadline for UT Arlington and UT Brownsville Finish@UT students to enroll in the Spring 2013 semester is Dec. 1. Visit for more information.

About The University of Texas System
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking research and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States and includes nine academic universities and six health science centers. Student enrollment exceeded 215,000 in the 2011 academic year. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state's health care professionals annually. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $13.1 billion (FY 2012) including $2.3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With roughly 87,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.