MSU’s first online grads walk this spring

By KEVIN KNAPEK/Montana State News

Spring of 2013 marks the first graduating class in Montana State University’s Extended University Liberal Arts Degree program.

For now, the program is classified as a completion degree, but Josef Verbanac of the English department at MSU hopes it will transition into a full, four-year online degree once the infrastructure and resources are in place.

A completion degree is where students come into the program with credits already accumulated (at least two years) and finish their degree completely online. This completion degree program was just approved last year.

The current costs for online classes at MSU are $222 per credit for residents.

So why does it cost more to take an online course? It would seem that not having a face-to-face class would be cheaper in the long run. After-all, the students are using their personal computers and the school is not paying for the electricity for the machines to be used and lighting required in a normal classroom.

According to Verbanac, the reason for the higher price tag for online classes is a way to offset the cost of running the computer hardware and initial set-up of the classes.

“The administration and students do not realize how much time it takes for instructors to write a complete course,” Verbanac said. The fees also pay for the extra computer support required to run the software and such.

Verbanac also acknowledges that once MSU gets the resources in place, the cost of online classes should equal those of face-to-face classes. With lower fees, an increasing number of students might take advantage of online classes. For now, since the online programs are relatively new, the extra fees will remain in place.

According to the homepage of the MSU Office of Continuing Education, “The MSU office of continuing education has something for nearly everyone.” Some of the classes that are available online include anthropology, computer sciences, mathematics, business, education, physics, family and consumer science, nursing, sociology and writing.

The extended university also offers classes for those looking to enhance their current professional abilities. These classes are designed for continuing education and range from mental health to personal income taxation.

For information on the requirements for obtaining this degree, or any other questions on what other classes are available through MSU’s extended university, contact Lesa Pribyl at: (406) 994-7441 or email her at:

– Edited by Cassidy Geoghegan 

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