ORANGE BEACH, AL — Online degree programs are becoming increasingly popular with fire departments and organizations all over the United States. Columbia Southern University, a nationally accredited and completely online university, holds partnerships with more than 45 fire organizations and has most recently added the Alabama Daphne Fire Department to the rapidly growing list.

One of the nation´s first completely online universities, Columbia Southern University was developed to meet the demand for alternatives to the traditional university experience. Degree programs were designed to fit around the work schedules of firefighters, police, and others with demanding and unpredictable occupations.

"At Columbia Southern University, we believe that everyone deserves access to a quality education," said Robert Mayes, Columbia Southern University president. "Especially the firefighters who sacrifice their own safety to preserve ours."

Partner fire organizations receive a 10 percent tuition discount and an application fee waiver. Spouses and children of firefighters are also eligible for these benefits.

Other advantages of partnering with Columbia Southern University include promotion of the fire organization on the university website, marketing materials, and at conferences and speaking engagements. This year, 40,000 to 50,000 direct mail pieces will be distributed, over 100 conferences will be attended, and the university website will receive approximately 20,000 hits per week.

"Our firefighters work around the clock to make our community a safer place to live and work," said Chief Kenneth Hanak of the Daphne Fire Department. "Thanks to Columbia Southern University, we can now offer our staff educational opportunities that can fit around their career and family obligations."

Comprised of 34 staff and 10 volunteers, the Daphne Fire Department covers approximately 16 square miles and responds to more than 2,000 emergency calls per year. The department offers fire suppression, advanced life support emergency medical services, technical rescue, hazardous materials response, and tactical emergency medicine. Daphne Fire Department is also part of the Baldwin County All Hazards Task Force.

Orange Beach Fire and Rescue, New York Fire Department, Iowa City Fire Department, and Tampa Fire and Rescue are just a few of the other fire organizations on the long list of Columbia Southern University partnerships. In fact, partnerships with this online university extend to organizations in nearly half of the 50 U.S. states.

To learn more about Columbia Southern University partnerships, please visit http://www.columbiasouthern.edu/alliances/learningpartners.asp or contact Chantell Cooley, Vice President of Partnership Development at chantell@columbiasouthern.edu.

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