A Degree of Discipline: Online Graduate Degree Programs

Online Graduate DegreesOnline Graduate Degrees

If you’re reading this article, you’ve got almost everything you need to get your online graduate degree.

Computer access and an interest in furthering your education are the first two steps to realizing your goal. But completing online courses and earning your degree isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. And what you carry with you across the finish line are preparation and self-discipline.

Self-discipline, well, that’s all you. You’ll need to motivate yourself without much outside influence, and you’ll have to keep pace without the pack of other students nipping at your heels. 

Preparation for online graduate school comes in the form of knowing what to expect. How do you navigate the world of online graduate programs? Keep reading, and you’ll equip yourself with a better understanding of the online basics and be that much closer to crossing the finish line.

Online Education

Online Education is the umbrella term used to describe courses conducted primarily via the Internet to students at remote locations. Online courses may occur synchronously or asynchronously.  

Hopefully, you noticed the word “primarily” in that statement. Some online courses require students and teachers to meet once or periodically in a physical setting for lectures, labs, or exams. The time in the physical setting cannot exceed 25% of the total course time, but it’s still something to look for when it comes time to choose your courses.

Asynchronous Learning

Asynchronous Learning involves intermittent interaction between instructors and students with a time delay. Courses are often self-paced and can include Q&A mentoring, online discussion groups and E-mail correspondence.

Asynchronous courses work if you are truly self-motivated, like to set your own work pace, and like to work independently.  

Asynchronous learning would be a good option for students who already have a demanding, inflexible schedule, or students who do their best thinking in their undies.  


Synchronous learning features real-time courses in which students and instructors are logged on to their computers at the same time and communicate directly with one another in real time. If they have access, students and instructors can interact via audio or video conferencing.

Synchronous learning is ideal if you like the idea of a more traditional classroom atmosphere where you can have your questions answered on the spot and participate in the conversation as it happens. 

If you play well with others and enjoy having an audience to bear witness to your brilliance, synchronous learning may be right for you.


Obviously to participate in an online graduate program you’ll need to make sure you have access to the Internet, and you may also need to consider connection speed, especially in cases of synchronous learning. 

Another consideration for online courses is programs and formats. Some courses will require you to have access to specific software in order to participate and turn in assignments.

Now, you should feel a little bit more comfortable sticking your foot in the digital door of an online graduate degree program. Of course, there are many more questions to consider before endeavoring any graduate program, online or otherwise. But, if you use these four characteristics of online graduate degree programs as your starting block, and you can find it in you to maintain your stride, you’ve got a great head start.

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