Saint Leo University continues to grow its online education program with new course offerings and enhanced student engagement opportunities. The university was at the forefront of offering online degrees and celebrated its 20th anniversary in December 2018. Launched in December 1998, Saint Leo was one of the first institutions to embrace online education with the creation of the Center for Online Learning.

Now, Saint Leo is in the news for its collaborative approach to engaging our online learners. The university was featured in late July in University Business

Emily Ann Brown, associate editor, interviewed alumnus U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tim Robinson, who graduated in 2019 with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and is pursuing a master's degree in criminal justice, specializing in criminal investigations, from Saint Leo. She also interviewed Shadel Hamilton, senior associate vice president of Saint Leo WorldWide Operations.

With 20 years of experience, Saint Leo understands the flexible learning experience online education can provide. The university is attuned with the unique needs of the online adult learner. One of the most critical areas in which Saint Leo distinguishes itself among other higher education institutions is its focus on connecting with students.

Students who are connected and involved in their university tend to do better academically and complete their degrees, which are offered from the associate level to the doctoral. "Online students are no different," Hamilton said.

There may be a greater need for connection for those studying online as they don't receive the face-to-face interaction that their counterparts, who attend class in a traditional university setting receive, Hamilton said. "We foster engagement that increases student satisfaction and success while also providing individualized support to align students' education and career goals."

In the story in University Business, Robinson cites "strong online engagement for his decision to remain at Saint Leo to pursue a graduate degree. 'I heard it was better to do degrees at different schools, but I didn't really see that online presence—the activities and communities that Saint Leo has.'"

Robinson, who lives in Jacksonville, FL, was selected as the student speaker for Saint Leo WorldWide at the April 27 afternoon commencement ceremony. He participates in the Online Criminal Justice Association, the Online Military Family Club, and the Online Student Communications Club, for which he served as the editor for the Saint Leo University WorldWide student newsletter, The Voice.

Saint Leo University's online clubs and associations focus on specific topics such as the Military Family or the Student Communications clubs. The associations are degree-specific, and offer students a chance to connect with other students in their respective majors. The number of students who participate in clubs and associations has increased 300 percent over the past four years,

Online students also receive assistance from Career Services. The goal is to make it as convenient as possible for adult online students, who are juggling multiple responsibilities in their lives to receive the professional development support they need.

New online degree programs

Saint Leo University also is making it easier for working adults to further their education with the addition of five new online degree programs.

The new programs include a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, Bachelor of Arts in human services, and Bachelor of Arts in educational studies, with a specialization in early childhood development. The Bachelor of Science and Master of Science programs in software engineering also will be available online this fall.