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All University of Wisconsin System four-year campuses will be able to offer online associate degrees under a proposal that members of the Board of Regents approved Wednesday.

Members of the Board of Regents’ executive committee met by phone Wednesday to approve System President Ray Cross’ proposal to authorize UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout, UW-Superior and UW-Whitewater to offer the associate of arts and sciences degree online.

UW-Milwaukee was authorized to offer the associate degree in the so-called “Flex” format, as part of the system’s Flexible Option program.

The campuses can offer the online degree effective July 1. UW-Madison officials say they currently have no plans to offer it.

The associate degrees currently are offered through UW Colleges, which will be elimiated in a reorganization plan approved by regents in October. The reorganization will merge UW Colleges’ 13 brick-and-mortar campuses with seven of the system’s four-year schools: UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Platteville, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-Whitewater.

Cross’ plan originally called for the colleges’ online degrees to be offered through UW System’s central administrative offices, until the Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission said the online degrees needed to be programmed through an accredited degree granting institution.

Authorizing all campuses to offer the degrees will “provide opportunities for citizens across the state to access high-quality educational programming in a manner and format that meets their needs,” said the resolution before regents Wednesday.

UW-Milwaukee is a leader among UW institutions in offering degree programs in the Flex format, the resolution notes. The Flex format gives students credit for demonstrating mastery of specific knowledge and skills rather than for completing coursework.

The Board of Regents’ executive committee can act on behalf of the entire board, said a UW System spokeswoman.

This post has been updated to reflect a change in the original resolution and the action taken Wednesday by regents. UW-Madison was added to the list of authorized campuses to allow it to offer the degree in the future.

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