How Do On-Campus and Online Master’s Degrees Differ?

How Do On-Campus and Online Master’s Degrees Differ?

Colleges throughout the world have embraced and adopted different learning formats, to be able to meet students’ varying needs and lifestyles. For advanced education, the most common options for grad students are on-campus and online master’s degrees.

Which learning format is the most effective? This answer depends on the individual pursuing the degree, as well as their flexibility and learning style. Let’s explore the characteristics of both on-campus and online master’s degrees in more detail, to determine the best fit for you.

Curriculum Difficulty and Expectations:
Many wonder if an online master’s degree will hold the same weight, or have the same quality, as a traditional college degree. The truth is – regardless of the format – all great master’s degree programs are held to a certain standard of academic excellence, in order to achieve high rankings and accreditation. Students are still presented the same materials, are expected to complete all coursework by a set due date, and are held to the same academic standards. The difference really comes into play when considering how you prefer to learn and be taught.

With on-campus courses, lectures and class assignments all take place live, in-person. On-campus degrees offer more traditional classroom experiences where students are in-person with their instructors and other classmates to learn the material. This in-person environment gives students the opportunity to have more face-to-face interactions with their instructors and classmates. Although on-campus classes are considered a more traditional format, many degree programs have created state-of-the-art environments with a variety of in-reach resources for students to utilize while in class.

For online master’s degree programs, the content and quality of the curriculum is the same as on-campus. However, the course material is typically taught through a series of online lectures, with forums for online discussions and assignments. Online master’s degrees leverage online learning tools such as Blackboard to organize course materials, assignments, workshops, and class discussions. These online resources are considered the classroom hub where students can access the necessary resources and communicate with teachers and peers. Many instructors also provide students their emails and phone numbers, so that students can reach out with questions or concerns at any time. This option is great for those who prefer to take in and digest the material at their own pace.

There are also hybrid degree approaches which combine online learning with in-person instruction. This degree format is particularly conducive for students who prefer the combination of hands-on, in-person learning for certain course materials and assignments, but have the option to do some coursework online on their own schedules.

Course Flexibility and Convenience:
Speaking of schedules, the biggest difference between on-campus and online master’s degrees is the flexibility of the curriculum. By definition, on-campus degrees require you to be in-person for all classes during a scheduled time. Some courses meet once a week for multiple hours while others meet multiple times a week, for shorter periods of time. Regardless of the class frequency, students are required to be in person during those specific, allotted class periods. For some, this can be extremely beneficial to have a specific day and time set aside each week dedicated to focus on the course.

Online master’s degrees, however, offer greater flexibility in regards to class schedules and the pace of completing assignments. Of course, that’s not to say that online course assignments do not have hard deadlines. Rather, online programs provide you with a window for completing a class lecture or assignment, allowing busy professionals the opportunity to complete coursework on their individual schedules and at their own pace, without having to set aside a pre-determined time each week to show up for class.

Access to Resources and Opportunities:
Regardless of the degree format, students typically still have equal access to the learning and post graduate resources available at that particular college. Goodwin College’s master’s degree programs are great examples of advanced programs that are offered in a variety of formats, yet still provide equal access to college resources. Some of the resources that Goodwin students (even those pursing online master’s degrees) can access are support services such as library access, writing center access, and ongoing career services. All students and graduates are offered lifetime access to the career services department where they can receive assistance with resume writing, interviewing, networking opportunities, career searches, and more.

On-campus and online master’s degrees both offer a solid and quality education. While these formats may differ in flexibility and learning styles, they will each add value to your career and help you advance to that next level. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and availability – as a graduate student, you may have a family at home, a career in progress, or other obligations, and therefore require a more convenient degree format.

For information about the on-campus and online master’s degree options at Goodwin College, please do not hesitate to call 800-889-3282 today.