Unique collaboration offers online college courses to National Guard troops overseas

Posted: July 11, 2003

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

When more than 1,500 members of the 34th Infantry Division of the Minnesota Army National Guard are deployed to Bosnia and Europe later this year, they will be able to go to college at the same time.

Under a unique collaboration, the citizen-soldiers stationed overseas can take an array of college courses online from any of nine Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.

"We are proud to be able to offer Minnesota National Guard troops the opportunity to begin or continue their college education while they are serving our country," said Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Chancellor James H. McCormick. "Our colleges and universities have made great strides in expanding online course offerings, so now is the perfect time to make these courses available to our soldiers overseas."

The courses will be taught entirely over the Internet. National Guard troops will use computer classrooms at their overseas bases to take courses from faculty members and instructors at the participating Minnesota campuses.

Among the courses available to the soldiers are English, astronomy, meteorology, math, history, psychology, political science, sociology, economics, ethics, computer science, business and marketing.

The colleges and universities that are participating are Bemidji State University; Metropolitan State University; Alexandria Technical College; Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids and Cambridge; Century College in White Bear Lake; Hibbing Community College; Lake Superior College in Duluth; Minnesota West Community and Technical College with campuses in Canby, Granite Falls, Jackson, Pipestone and Worthington; and Rochester Community and Technical College.

Many of the lower-division courses offered are part of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum and will transfer to any of the 33 Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the University of Minnesota and many private colleges. Other courses, such as wind energy and medical transcription, can get a student started on a certificate or diploma program in a specific occupational field.

"This is a great way for soldiers to further their education or begin a degree program," said Army National Guard Major Gen. Larry Shellito, who in civilian life is president of Alexandria Technical College. "More than half of the Guard members already are enrolled in college, so this will allow them to continue their education without interruption."

The online courses will be offered during two special semesters designed to accommodate the soldiers' schedules. The first semester for soldiers stationed in Bosnia will run from Sept. 29 through Dec. 31; the second semester will run from Jan. 4, 2004, through April 12, 2004. Dates for the Europe semesters have not yet been announced.

Representatives of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities will be at Camp Ripley July 12 through July 18 and from July 19 through July 23 to provide the soldiers with information about educational opportunities and help with enrolling and registering for courses. Information also is available on a Web site, www.guardonline.mnscu.edu.

For soldiers being sent overseas, the entire tuition cost will be covered by the military. Soldiers who remain in Minnesota will have about 80 percent of their tuition costs covered.

The 33 Minnesota State Colleges and Universities now offer more than 800 courses either entirely or predominantly online. More than 30 programs leading to a certificate, diploma or degree can be completed entirely or predominantly online. A list of online offerings can be found on the Web site at www.minnesotaonline.org.