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KNOXVILLE — A new grant program at the University of Tennessee will put 10 minority students online to earn a master’s degree in information sciences.

UT’s School of Information Sciences will enroll up to 10 people from minority groups who will be part of the school’s new online master’s program in fall 2001, said Dr. Elizabeth Aversa, who directs the school.

“The purpose of the program is to attract people of diverse backgrounds and from underrepresented groups into the field of information and library sciences,” Aversa said. “This is an opportunity for adult learners who have jobs to earn a degree without packing up and moving to Knoxville for classes.”

The federal Institute of Museum and Library Services is providing $151,000 to fund the program, which will pay for full tuition, computer equipment and support, and travel expenses for the students. Students take one or two Internet-based courses a semester and come to campus only for orientation and exams at the end of the program.

The new program is UT’s first completely online graduate course that is available to the general public. The university offers an online executive MBA degree exclusively for physicians.

A graduate degree in information sciences opens career possibilities in librarianship, research, information technology, records management and other roles in schools, corporations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations, Aversa said.

Online learners may take two classes a semester. The degree requires 42 hours of class work. More information on both the program and the school’s distance education program can be found on the Web at http://www.sis.utk.edu.