PULLMAN, Wash. — Enrollment figures for distance-degree programs at Washington State University are up nearly 36 percent this fall from fall 2000. Enrollments grew from 3,648 to 4,953 in the one-year period, the second highest one-year increase since the program began in 1992.

The increase added 243 FTE (full-time equivalent students) to the university’s overall enrollment count. WSU’s distance-degree programs are upper-division degree completion, master’s and certificate programs designed primarily for adult place- and time-bound students.

Enrollment growth was especially strong in counties served by WSU Learning Centers as well as in the urban areas of Seattle and Spokane. In addition, the number of individuals outside the U.S. seeking a WSU degree at a distance nearly doubled and now stands at 65.

“The steady increase in enrollments in our distance-degree programs demonstrates that we are meeting the educational needs of many place-bound persons throughout the state and nation,” said Charlene Jaeger, WSU’s vice president of student affairs.

“We are finding that distance delivery continues to meet a growing demand,” said Cliff Moore, associate director for extended university services. “With the economy trending downward, we may well see individuals in career transition looking to WSU to provide educational opportunities in their communities. The new management information systems program that launched Oct. 15, delivered at the request of industry, will meet an important and growing need in our state.”

Distance-degree courses are delivered primarily via the Internet and video, and course delivery is flexible so students can take courses while maintaining family and work responsibilities.

WSU offers six bachelor’s degrees at a distance, including agriculture, business administration (general business or management information systems), criminal justice, human development, social science and nursing. WSU also offers a certificate program in professional writing and a master’s program in agriculture. Additional degree programs, both at the bachelor’s and master’s levels, are under consideration for development.

WSU hosted an open house at its Pullman campus on a recent weekend, and despite the Sept. 11 tragedy in New York and Washington, D.C., students from as far away as California attended the event. During the open house, students participated in for-credit academic seminars, met with their academic advisers, visited with faculty and sampled the campus spirit during a football weekend.

“We are very pleased to see enrollment in our distance-degree programs continue to grow at such a strong rate,” said Muriel Oaks, dean for extended university services. “Even though there are now many more distance-learning providers, our growth demonstrates that Washington State University is known for delivering a high-quality education experience. This educational outreach is the 21st-century realization of the traditional land-grant mission of teaching, research and public service.”