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Illinois Tech Announces Programs for Online IT Degrees, STEM

A private research university in Chicago is loosening undergraduate admission requirements for math while adding online graduate programs in fields such as information technology and data science.

STEM science, technology, engineering, math illustration concept showing four separate tiles with the letters "s," "t," "e," and "m" above them and people and objects on them like a gear wheel and microscope that relate to STEM subjects.
The Illinois Institute of Technology is investing in STEM and online classes through a pair of new initiatives, including new information technology degrees through the online learning platform Coursera and a program to help STEM undergraduates find their niche.

According to a news release last week, the university is working with Coursera to offer four new degree programs starting in August — Bachelor of Information Technology, Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Data Science, and Master of Information Technology.

“This partnership with Coursera further positions Illinois Tech as both an opportunity engine and university of the future — one that offers a powerful, relevant, digital education anytime, anywhere,” Illinois Tech Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kenneth Christensen said in a public statement.

University spokesman Kevin Dollear told Government Technology that Illinois Tech saw a 25 percent increase in enrollment for the fall 2022 semester, with the population of undergraduate and graduate students currently tallying just under 7,000, most of whom major in STEM subjects.

Earlier this month, the university also announced the Discover+ program, which will offer undergraduate students the choice to complete a variety of courses in different areas of study before declaring a major.

According to a news release, this decision was partially based on U.S. Department of Education data that indicates 35 percent of students who had originally declared a STEM major had changed their specific field of study within three years, and about 50 percent of students who began their collegiate careers as math majors switched to something else before graduation.

Meanwhile, Illinois Tech administrators realized that, historically, students who had not completed high school calculus or advanced math were denied admission even though Illinois high school graduation requirements do not require completion of those courses, according to a frequently asked questions (FAQ) summary of the program provided to Government Technology. With the implementation of Discover +, the school will admit those students and allow them to complete those courses as part of the college curriculum.

School officials said all subject areas at Illinois Tech, including not just STEM, but also business, social science fields and other programs within the humanities, incorporate technology in their respective courses of study. Even while exploring different majors and completing general education requirements, students in the Discover+ program will be on track to complete their bachelor’s degree within four years.

“Discover+ at Illinois Tech is a direct response to the evolving landscape of higher education and the diverse needs of our students,” Institute of Technology President Raj Echambadi said in a public statement. “We believe that providing students with the opportunity to explore various disciplines and develop a well-rounded skill set will better prepare them for success in an ever-changing world.”

The school’s existing Elevate program, which is aimed at providing students hands-on experience through internships, research opportunities and technology competitions, will be incorporated into the new Discover+ program, according to the news release. Transfer students are also eligible to participate in Discover+.