You’ve decided to earn your graduate degree online, but now you’re not sure what type of program is best for you. Don’t worry. Although sifting through the different online graduate programs may seem intimidating, knowing in advance what type of program you want to attend can help you significantly narrow down your search before you even get started.
There are a few different formats for online graduate programs. Although, as the name implies, you will be learning at least a portion of your education through the internet, the degree to which you take your courses online depends on the program you choose. If you plan on attending an online master's degree program or PhD program at a graduate school that also has a bricks-and-mortar campus, you may be required to take a few classes, or a few semesters on campus.
Residencies can be helpful to students. Depending on the grad school you decide to attend, you may need complete a residency for any of the following reasons:
- To have the chance to bond with their classmates in a real-life setting.
- There are some classroom activities such as hands-on labs that cannot be replicated online.
- To provide time for face-to-face networking with their professors and department faculty.
- To receive training on the technology students will be using for the rest of their online grad school experience.
Before deciding on which type of online graduate program is best for you, take the time to figure out your schedule and exactly how much time you can devote to your studies. Make a list of all of your responsibilities and be realistic about how much time you can devote to your studies. Browse through the descriptions below to help you decide what program is best for you.
No Residency Online Graduate Programs
Some programs that do not lead to a profession requiring a lot of hands-on activity are easily taught completely online. The no residency requirement provides students with the greatest amount of freedom in their schedules. Prospective students may choose the no residency option if they live far away from the school they wish to attend. This is also a perfect option for those who will be balancing a full-time job, family and their assignments.
Limited Residency Online Graduate Programs
Limited residency, or low-residency, programs requires students to attend a certain number of courses or seminars on campus. For example, the masters degree program in health arts and sciences at the Goddard College requires students to complete an eight-day residency at the start of each semester.
Extensive Residency Online Graduate Programs
Online graduate programs that practice extensive residency require students to attend at least one semester on campus. This provides students with more of a campus experience, as they have the opportunity to network with peers and faculty and take advantage of campus facilities. Unless you plan on relocating for a semester or two, this is only a good option for students who live nearby their graduate school.
Blended Learning Online Graduate Programs
Blended learning is becoming increasingly popular in the world of academia. This structure combines online learning technology with traditional classroom instruction. Professors might use an online forum to hold discussions out of class; administer tests or quizzes; or distribute media such as photographs or films. For example some graduate courses at Pennsylvania State University, or Penn State, follow the blended format, requiring students to online attend the classes on campus once a week, reducing it from the usual three times a week. The rest of the course material is learned through the online format.
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