Over the last decade online graduate education has come a long way once  viewed with suspicion. Today many respected traditional brick-and-mortar institutions offer graduate degrees delivered entirely online. That said, an online graduate program is not for everyone. Is it for you? Here are some considerations. Most students find that they are able to spend more time with their families and are better able to juggle their education with family obligations since online graduate programs are completed off-campus. Whenever they have time, the ability to study and participate in class anytime means that graduate students who work full time jobs can attend class before work, during breaks and lunch, and after work. Of course this benefit has a downside. Schoolwork follows you everywhere. Successful online graduate study requires a high degree of motivation and the ability to work in the absence of clear outside pressures. The flexibility that online graduate study affords can be a risk to student success. Family and work obligations can impede study time. The ability to work when you choose coupled with the lack of in-person class meetings can offer the illusion of unlimited time.

Is graduate online study right for you

Good time management skills are an antidote to the risks that accompany the flexibility of online courses. Even the best students procrastinate and put sometimes off working on assignments. Online study provides a host of distractions. It’s easy to keep several browser windows open, for example, and unwittingly spend a large proportion of study time surfing the web. Deadlines can arrive surprisingly quickly. Often first composed of grad student peers – successful graduates develop broad professional networks. Relationships with other students can enhance your professional development and offer important opportunities. Students in online graduate programs might have to work harder to establish these vital relationships. Yet it may not be as difficult as it seems. Many students are surprised to learn that online graduate programs often include a great deal of class interaction via discussion boards and group work. You will have contact with other students. The discussion may be deeper and more satisfying than in a traditional class setting because you will have time to think before you respond – and will be able to edit your answers before posting them. You will miss the face to face casual interactions inherent to traditional graduate study – that said. Video chat can certainly make up for these challenges, but online graduate study can be isolating. Online graduate study is all about reading. You may encounter some audio lectures, videos, and slides, but most of your time will be spent reading – lectures, discussion posts, and textbooks. You will be expected to learn material by reading and to identify what you don’t understand so that you may seek help. The ability to read difficult texts without the direct supervision of an instructor is critical to your success in graduate school. Expect to send much of your time writing discussion posts and other assignments in addition to a great deal of reading.