How Does a Distance Learning Master's Degree Graduate Program Work?

A distance learning master's degree program can be a convenient way of earning that advanced degree that you've been putting off because of a busy lifestyle. This article explores how these programs work and what they have to offer graduate students. Read on for more information.

About Distance Learning Master's Degree Programs

By enrolling in such programs, students have opportunities to pursue graduate degrees without being physically present on college campuses. In many such programs, lecture attendance and class assignments may be completed entirely online in a self-paced manner. Working professionals who are unable to leave their careers in order to participate in full-time study may find the flexibility of distance learning appealing.

Important Information About Distance Learning Master's Degree Programs

Degree Fields of Study Business, communications, counseling, education, health sciences
Concentrations Digital marketing, life coaching, leadership, international affairs
Possible Careers Counselor, marketing executive, accountant, educator, nurse
Prerequisites Some programs may require prior work experience, letters of recommendation or test scores

Online Coursework

The vast majority of distance learning master's degree programs are offered in a web-based format. This means that students receive and complete their coursework online. Using personal computers that have access to the Internet, distance learning students are usually free to work on courses as their schedules allow. Most online programs are asynchronous, which means that students are not required to be present at regularly scheduled times.

Interaction With Students and Faculty

Since distance learning students are not present for on-campus participation, it is important that they take advantage of the online interaction opportunities offered by universities. Using chat rooms and message forums, students may participate in discussions with fellow students and professors and ask questions. This allows graduate students to remain engaged in the course dialogue.

Comprehensive Examinations

After completing the specified coursework, each graduate degree student must typically complete comprehensive examinations in his or her field of study. In a distance learning program, these tests may be completed online, locally (under the supervision of a proctor) or during an on-campus residency.

Thesis and Campus Residencies

Most distance learning master's degree programs require each student to complete an original thesis before graduating. This is generally completed on a personal computer and delivered via e-mail. Some distance learning programs may ask that students participate in one or more short, on-campus residencies. This allows online students meet their colleagues and professors. Students may also use this time to discuss thesis topics and their overall progress with academic advisors.

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