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Alabama Universities, Accredited Colleges, and Degrees

Alabama's higher education system is overseen by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE). The ACHE is comprised of a 12-member board that is appointed by various state government officials. This board takes on such tasks as approving new academic programs, approving new higher education institutions, and understanding the higher education system as a whole in order to suggest improvements on both the individual institution and general levels. Overall, the ACHE is responsible for the oversight of 49 four-year colleges and universities in Alabama as well as 46 community and technical schools.

Accredited Colleges & Universities in Alabama

Of the 49 accredited four-year universities and colleges in Alabama, the largest are the University of Alabama, Auburn University, Troy University, the University of South Alabama, and Virginia College. However, the most notable universities in Alabama are the University of Alabama and Troy University. The University of Alabama is a public university that was founded in 1831. It is located in Tuscaloosa and is ranked No. 77 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Troy University is also a public university. It was founded in in 1887 and is ranked No. 67 in the south by U.S. News & World Report.

In the early 2000s, Alabama recognized that the state's high school and postsecondary graduate rates were some of the lowest in the U.S. In order to rectify this problem, the state implemented the Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide (ACCESS) Distance Learning initiative in 2004. The goal of ACCESS was to increase students' access to quality secondary education in an effort to upturn the state's high school and college graduation rates. In 2011, the Task Force on Distance and Blended Learning acknowledged that ACCESS was not only successful, but had become a reliable education tool used by public schools and high school students.

Alabama is one of 16 Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) participants. Through its participation, the state takes part in various SREB programs and initiatives, including Go Alliance. This program works to increase the rate at which students who would be the first in their family to earn a postsecondary degree attend college by supporting college access policies, college preparation and application programs, and running marketing programs that educate and encourage said students to attend college. However, SREB isn't the only way in which Alabama increases college retention rates; many universities in Alabama offer distance education options. For instance, the University of Alabama offers several distance bachelor's and master's degrees through its Bama By Distance department.

Accredited Community Colleges in Alabama

The largest technical and community colleges in Alabama are Jefferson State Community College and John C. Calhoun State Community College, with about 10,000 and 12,000 students respectively. Community colleges offer professional and associate degrees, as well as a general education that can be transferred to four-year universities; moreover, they are designed to make higher education more affordable to students. As such, the Alabama Poverty Project's Blueprints College Access Initiative was founded. Given that Alabama is the third poorest state in the U.S., Blueprint acts to educate students interested, or who may not know they're interested, in higher education through mentoring, counseling, and workshops.

Many community and technical colleges in Alabama provide their students with online options; two such schools are Alabama Southern Community College (ASCC) and Jefferson State Community College (JSCC). ASCC offers many online course options for students that are simply traditional ASCC courses in web form. To make educational requirements as convenient to students as possible, all course assignments can be completed by students online. JSCC also offers online course options to its students. All students need to do to participate in JSCC online education is enroll in the college and register for Internet or hybrid courses, which are administered through Blackboard.com.

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