Julie Battle in Courtroom
Julie Battle, chair of Brenau University’s Psychology Department, discusses the online undergraduate psychology degree.

Undergraduate Psychology Degree Added to Prestigious Online Programs

Nov 29, 2016
Kristen Bowman

Starting in early 2017, Brenau University will expand its catalog of degrees available entirely through online studies to include an undergraduate degree in psychology.

According to Christina White, who oversees online student recruitment for the 138-year-old university, Brenau has already registered some students for the program that is scheduled to start in January. However, enrollment remains open.

“Brenau already offers a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology in its on-ground degree options,” White said. “This just makes getting a degree in psychology from a fully accredited, prestigious university available to those who cannot – or elect not to – attend classes on a campus. And, Brenau already has expertise on the online format.”

In addition to the undergraduate degree program in psychology on campus, Brenau offers a master’s degree in clinical psychology. However, the psychology department several years ago created and continues to oversee a highly regarded interdisciplinary master’s degree program in applied gerontology that is offered only online. Some other online programs, including a graduate degree in education, have received national acclaim.

White said prospective students for online programs “love the idea” that their studies are connected with a university with rich campus life, tradition and a reputation of outstanding person-to-person relationships between faculty and student – even though online students may never visit a Brenau campus. “It’s a credibility thing,” she said. “They have a personal involvement with the university.”

Julie Battle, chair of Brenau’s Psychology Department, said the online psychology degree program compares equally to the academic rigor and expectation of the Brenau on-campus psychology undergraduate program.

“There are some differences in the electives, because there are some on-ground electives that we can’t really put online, and there are new online electives that we don’t have on-ground,” she said. “Otherwise, all the requirements are the same. This is really a new platform for the program we already have.”

Battle said the courses for the most part are asynchronous, meaning students won’t have to log in at a specific time but can complete coursework in a manner more flexible and adaptive to their schedules. This makes the online program ideal for working adults or parents who do not have the flexibility to take courses on one of Brenau’s five campuses.

“Online classes require a lot of independent work,” Battle said. “You have to be on the ball. But our hope is really to expand our market by offering the online program, reaching people outside of Gainesville and even outside of the state. Right now, people who work full time can’t get a psychology degree at Brenau, and this is really a great degree for people who are already in the workplace and want to further themselves in their own positions.”

Battle said a psychology degree teaches good communication skills, people skills, critical thinking and problem solving. “Even if you don’t want to be a therapist, a psych degree is a great degree that can help you do almost anything.”

Brenau was one of the earliest comprehensive universities in the Southeast to offer online degree programs, beginning in the 1990s, in addition to more traditional on-campus degree-track courses.

“There is an almost tangible awareness of the need for online studies,” White said. “This is not just a push to make sure we are moving in that direction, but that we are creating exceptional programs that work in that medium. Brenau understands how necessary it is to have online options for adults, and we are really interested in giving that option to our students and to the community.”