Cindy Lopez, an 18-year-old biology major at Wolfson Campus, has one year to go to finish her associate degree at Miami Dade College.
This fall, Lopez will begin to research colleges where she can transfer to.
However, Lopez might not have to look that far.
Starting this fall term, MDC will offer a distance learning program with the University of Florida.
Students wishing to major in either microbiology or cell science can take classes online while earning a bachelor’s degree from UF. Labs and exams will be held at North Campus’ Science Complex.
“I think it’s a great idea for those who don’t have time to drive to school or have other responsibilities besides school,” Lopez said.
“UF approached Miami Dade with the concept. We recognized the opportunity the collaboration would mean to our students,” Heather Belmont, dean of science at North Campus, said via email.
According to Eric Triplett, chair of microbiology and cell science at UF, it is important that students get hands-on discussions with their professors, even if the program is from a distance.
“We wanted to work with Miami Dade because it is one of the best and biggest colleges in the nation,” Triplett said. “We know there are many outstanding students there. Many, for economic or cultural reasons, cannot come to Gainesville.”
Students who enroll in the program will not pay the technology fee that students taking online classes at UF pay.
“The technology distance fee is zero dollars,” Triplett said, “Students end up paying a little less than UF students because they do not have to pay for room and board.”
MDC has traditionally been a two-year institution. However, in 2003 it offered its first bachelor’s program in education.
Belmont says that the program is a sign of the school’s continuing growth.
“The program increased the opportunity for MDC graduating students to enroll in quality science programming without leaving Miami-Dade County,” Belmont said.