BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — Plenty of jobs have experienced staffing issues over the last few years, but teachers are in especially low supply.

The North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board has already declared a shortage in all content areas in education. This is especially true in rural areas.

“We knew there was a huge need for teachers, all over the place,” explained Loni Miller, elementary education program director at the University of Mary, “but especially in our rural communities. We were looking for different ways that we could help out and meet the needs of our state, and we created the online program as a way to do that.”

In order to try and solve this problem, the University of Mary is beginning its online elementary education program.

This new program is for online learning to earn a degree for first-to-eighth grade education.

In particular, the program is designed to prepare instructors who can fill these much-needed teaching roles.

The new online course will also have an option to take classes in the University’s “year-round campus” format, where one can graduate in only two and a half years by removing break semesters.

The faster students can learn, Miller says, the faster they can get out and help fill the open teaching positions.

The main goal of the online program is to bridge the distance between those who may want to pursue a degree in teaching but are separated from the university due to distance

If the program proves to be a success, then as soon as they graduate, students will be able to immediately jump in to teaching where they are needed — which, in many cases, will be nearby.

“We want to help education in North Dakota to grow and be strong,” explained Miller, “and as we move forward, how we can do that is by helping get great educators into all areas of our state.”