FAQ: Online Degree Programs & Courses

Can I Earn My Graduate Degree Online?

Yes, absolutely! This is good news for people looking for an alternative to traditional on-campus master’s programs. Online degree programs allow students to engage in accredited, quality, and best of all, online graduate degree programs. Online graduate programs may help busy professionals, non-traditional students, and people living away from the colleges and universities of their choice to earn their degrees in a more convenient and accessible way.

What Can I Study in Online Degree Programs?

An increasing number of subjects are available in online formats. Subjects such as business (including MBA); education; health; technology; engineering; humanities; and the social, biological, and life sciences are all commonly offered in online formats. Additionally, colleges and universities often offer programs in subjects such as law; criminal justice; art; architecture; and the physical and earth sciences. Many online masters’ programs are also starting to offer students options for further specialization in these subjects as well.

How Are Online Graduate Courses Structured?

Online graduate courses are typically delivered through online platforms such as Moodle and Blackboard. Professors typically post course information and curricula on the platform and conduct the course through the platform. Students in the course participate, submit work, interact, and access resources through the platform.

Upon registering for an online program, your school will typically give you a sign-on and password for accessing your courses. When you access your courses through the online platform, you’ll typically see a file for handouts (including syllabi, supplemental readings, worksheets, and other digital resources); a place to virtually interact with classmates and your professors in a public space (a discussion group or blog, for example); a place for privately communication with your professor and classmates; a place for submitting work; and numerous other features designed to allow you to participate fully in a course. Some platforms and online courses also allow for audio and visual interaction, and for students to create user profiles.

Online courses are either conducted completely online or include an in-person component. Some online courses require students to meet in groups in person or to attend meetings on campus. Such courses are commonly referred to as “hybrid” courses. You should determine whether or not your master’s degree online program requires face-to-face or on-campus interaction prior to applying for it.

Recently, a new form of online learning has emerged which is vastly different than traditional online schooling. MOOCs, also known as Massive Online Open Courses are large online classes that are available to everyone, either for free or a small fee.

How Long Does it Take to Earn My Online Graduate Degree?

It depends on the type of program. Some online graduate degree programs allow students to start and complete courses in their own time. In these types of programs, students complete their degrees according to their own initiative—some complete classes quickly and graduate within a year or two; others complete classes slowly and graduate after several years. Other programs require students to follow a regimented schedule and to complete courses within a particular timeframe. Such programs typically allow students to graduate within two years depending on the field of study and degree level.

What Are Some of the Benefits of Online Graduate Degree Programs?

Online graduate degree programs offer numerous benefits:

  • Students can “attend” colleges and universities in cities and states distant from where they live
  • Students who live in rural areas or areas without master’s programs can earn their master’s degrees online
  • Students can “attend” classes at times that are convenient for them
  • Because of the flexibility offered by online learning programs, students can more easily find online graduate classes that fit their busy or untraditional schedules
  • Working professionals can more easily schedule their online graduate courses to fit their work and career needs
  • Online degree programs reduce or eliminate the need to commute, pay for parking, and get to class on time

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