Annie Rose Stathes - September 2013
Hybrid degree programs are programs that include an online component and an onsite component, both of which are equally important.
It is virtually impossible to identify all of the programs in academia that are likely to be hybrid. However, there are a few characteristics of various academic programs that may make them more suitable for hybrid formats. Here are a few of the characteristics of academic programs that are likely to require a hefty onsite component:
Programs that require hands-on training
Programs that require direct supervision
Programs that benefit from peer interaction, insight, and feedback
Programs that require dynamic research
Programs That Require Hands-On Training
These are programs that require students to know how to do something, rather than just think something. For example, training to be a speech pathologist, physician’s assistant, dental hygienist, physical therapist, children’s counselor, or k-12 teacher all require that students do something that can’t necessarily be taught through a computer. It is difficult, for example, to learn how to lift someone’s leg to release a spastic muscle over the internet. It is much easier to learn how to do so with an actual leg.
Programs That Require Direct Supervision
There are certain careers that have a greater, longer-lasting emotional or physical effect on people than others. For example, a therapist is more likely to have a negative or positive effect on someone than is a historian or creative writer. So too are teachers, practitioners, and physician’s assistants. Therefore, people training in these careers generally need more practice directly supervised by a professional in the field.
Programs That Benefit from Peer Interaction, Insight, and Feedback
These programs are connected to careers that really thrive when practiced in more of a community setting. Paralegals, community and social counselors, and mediators are all examples of students and professionals who benefit from peer interaction, insight, and feedback.
Programs That Require Dynamic Research
Programs that prepare students for careers that depend upon professional and dynamic research typically benefit from having a strong onsite component. Biologists, neurologists, and certain social scientists are all examples of people who need to be able to conduct solid and sometimes complicated research. These types of programs depend upon professorial and masterful guidance in learning how to conduct research successfully and responsibly. Such skills don’t always translate through online communications.
How Much Does it Cost to Complete the Onsite Component of a Hybrid Program?
This of course, depends upon the program, the number of times you have to visit campus, where you live, and where you can stay. When considering a hybrid program, ask these questions (either to yourself or to a program advisor):
1. How many times will I have to be onsite and for how long each time?
2. Does the school offer housing options to hybrid-program students?
3. If not, what affordable housing options are available in the area?
4. How much will it cost to travel to the onsite location? Are these costs under my control or will they fluctuate significantly?
5. Does the program offer grants or scholarships for travel and accommodation?
6. Are there other costs of which I need to be aware? (Lab fees, material fees, etc.)
How Are Hybrid Programs Structured?
The answer to this question depends upon the program. However, most hybrid programs are 60-70 percent online and 30-40 percent onsite. This percentage can be drastically different, however, depending on the program and the degree to which work needs to be completed onsite.
Also, the amount of time you’re onsite in a given visit can vary by program. Some hybrid programs require months in residence, while others require weeks or even just weekends. It is important to determine how long you’ll need to be onsite for each onsite visit. It is also important to determine whether or not the hybrid program offers onsite options that work for you given your personal and work schedule. Some hybrid programs cater to working adults (most do, actually), while others do not. Again, make sure that the structure for onsite visits is compatible with your schedule. Most schools offering hybrid programs will not allow students to graduate without having fulfilled the requirements for the onsite portion.
Search GradSchools.com for Hybrid Graduate Degree Programs
About the Author: Annie Rose Stathes holds a B.A. in International Affairs and an M.A. in Political Science, from the University of Colorado, Denver. She is currently an instructor of writing at Fort Lewis College in Durango Colorado.