The University of Wisconsin-Platteville's (UW- Platteville) "Increasing Graduates of Online STEM Master's Degree" program will increase the number of students entering Distance Education online master's programs in STEM related fields. The project will provide students with the opportunity to expand upon their STEM knowledge by providing increased access to online STEM Master's programs. The online environment allows flexible scheduling, so students can fulfill employment and family obligations. Providing scholarships will alleviate the financial burden and increase accessibility for students pursuing advanced STEM knowledge. This project will review best practices for supporting on-campus undergraduate students in STEM majors and apply these to graduate programs in an online environment. Anticipated outcomes include increased student retention in full-time programs, and placement and advancement in STEM careers.
The UW-Platteville Distance Learning Center (DLC) will award 10 annual scholarships for five years to online students pursuing graduate education in STEM fields, and it will improve support services for first-time online students. Practices such as faculty advising/mentoring, peer mentoring, faculty/student research, and networking with STEM professionals will be utilized and their impact on retention of online students reviewed. Career guidance and placement will assist graduates who are either advancing their careers or just entering the STEM workforce. The goal of the project will be to increase the number of students in STEM disciplines and the number of employees in STEM fields, especially underrepresented populations.