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5 Things to Know About Online Grad School Programs

Posted by Shelly Quance on 4/5/24 8:15 AM

  April 05, 2024    

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At West Virginia University, we get a lot of questions about attending graduate school online. So, based on those questions, here are five things we think you should know about the online student experience.

Are you interested in a nontraditional learning option for grad school? Explore  our Online Graduate School Toolkit for everything you need to know about  choosing an online graduate program at WVU.

"Joining an online academic community is an incredible chance for students to enjoy flexibility, balance responsibilities, and connect globally while earning a degree that unlocks opportunities and fuels their passions." — Jennifer Pruzinsky, M.A., Assistant Director of Online Student Services & Enrollment Management

“Online Degree” Won’t Be on Your College Diploma

We get this question a lot, but the answer is a resounding "NO". 

Your diploma will not list your graduate degree as an online program. That said, we know that some aspiring graduate students have concerns regarding how future employers or peers will feel about the validity of an online graduate degree. But you should understand that ultimately, many of the stigmas surrounding obtaining an online graduate degree have been dispelled in recent years.

Consider this article from elearninginside.com: "Today, a growing number of prestigious universities, including Harvard and MIT, are embracing online learning ...more than ever before, employers and hiring managers are indicating that they don’t care if a prospective employee earned their degree or credential on campus or online."

So, even though your diploma will not specify that your degree was earned in an online setting, you really shouldn't be concerned about explaining that to colleagues or employers.

GRE Practice Questions Might Not Be Part of Your Future

Whether or not you have to take the GRE (or any other graduate standardized test) prior to the admissions process depends on the program that you're applying for. You should check with your university of interest in order to determine if and when you will need to take the GRE, GMAT, etc.

Note: Considering taking the GRE? Explore our digital resource: the GRE Cheat  Sheet and let us help you navigate the test preparation process!

Online Classes for College Still Have Deadlines

Every online graduate program will differ when it comes to the frequency and strictness surrounding deadlines for assignments, group projects, and exams. But yes, you can expect to be required to meet deadlines — just like in any other academic program.

That said, most online graduate school programs offer a certain level of flexibility that traditional, in-person classes do not. And while flexibility can be an attractive thing to many prospective graduate students, it's important to nurture your ability to stay self-motivated. 

While learning from home, a coffee house, or a library might seem ideal for some students, distractions can occur. Self-discipline and organizational skills are crucial for succeeding in an online learning environment.

A Few Pros of Online Grad School Programs

There are many advantages to online learning, but for now, we'll list three of the most notable advantages to participating in an online graduate program.

Flexibility: One of the biggest gains from enrolling in an online graduate program is the amount of flexibility. Students have more opportunities to study wherever and whenever they want. They can choose the location they study, and they can block out their own schedules to allow them to arrange classwork around a job or other activities.

Accessibility: Some students can’t afford a car, or they might not live close enough to an institution to rely on public transportation. Online courses only require a computer and a connection to Wi-Fi, which becomes a more accessible option for students who can’t make a commute or don’t want to move in order to attend graduate school.

Green Learning: All correspondence on assignments (and the assignments themselves) between professors and students is digital. None of the work is print-based. So there’s no waste of materials.

Enjoy the Convenience of Virtual Office Hours

Engaging with professors is an important part of the learning experience. In the online classroom setting, professors regularly hold virtual office hours. These virtual hours often take place at times that are targeted to nontraditional learners — such as later in the evening — when more students can attend.

Additionally, this allows students to pop online when they’re actually working on coursework, ask a quick question, and go back to work. Most instructors archive the virtual classroom discussions, meaning that students can go back through the conversation if additional clarification is needed.

Additionally, many online professors offer live recaps of the course material each week. Professors set a schedule, login, and discuss what students should have learned that week. This offers another opportunity to become involved in the discussion with not only professors, but classmates as well. 

Healthcare MBAs and More: Introducing WVU Online

WVU Online is its own unit, made up of enrollment coaches that assist students from the point of inquiry through what WVU’s admissions team considers a “strong start,” which is the first week of classes. The unit also oversees the registration process for many online programs.

Although an advanced degree can set your career flying, higher education can also crash your bank account if you aren’t strategic regarding financial budgeting. While some programs can be extremely expensive, some online programs allow their students to pay in-state tuition regardless of residency

WVU stands out in this regard as many other universities charge more for out-of-state, online students, while WVU makes exceptions for certain online degrees. Rates are determined by programs vs. courses, meaning taking a course with a subject not in-line with the desired degree will not increase the tuition for a student in a specific program. This allows students to experiment with other fields if their degree has flexibility for elective classes. 

Learn More About WVU’s Online Graduate Degrees

While WVU Online has many options for prospective students who want to pursue an online graduate degree, we've listed a few articles below that will tell you a little bit about some of our most popular and respected online graduate programs:

At WVU, the admissions team knows that there are important factors you should consider when researching online graduate programs. We hope you'll reach out to us today and learn more about how you can jumpstart your graduate school education.

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Explore The Online Graduate School Toolkit for advice on pursuing graduate school online at WVU!

Explore Online Toolkit

Topics: WVU Graduate Programs, Graduate School Resources, WVU Online Degree Programs

Posted by Shelly Quance

Shelly Quance has spent almost 20 years working in higher education marketing communications. She currently serves as Director for West Virginia University’s Office of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment where she works collaboratively with College leadership to develop, implement, and evaluate creative and effective comprehensive communication and marketing plans to increase graduate student enrollment.


About the Blog

Deciding what graduate school to attend can be daunting at times, and navigating the admissions process can be that much more difficult. We hope to make the journey from considering graduate school to enrolling in a graduate program easier by publishing content that will be helpful to you as you discern if, when, and where, to pursue your next degree.

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