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ABOUT THIS RESOURCE

If you’re considering enrolling in an advanced online program at West Virginia University, you may have some questions regarding the admissions process and concerns regarding what it would actually mean for you to enroll in an online graduate program.

Here at WVU, the Admissions Team knows that there are important factors you should consider when researching online graduate programs, and that’s why we put together this toolkit — so you can make an informed and confident decision regarding your next academic venture.

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Online Learning is the
Future of Higher Education

“I strongly believe that the future of higher education lies with online learning. Increasingly, colleges and university students now find themselves with other obligations beyond that of getting a degree. Jobs and family commitments make equal demands on their time. Having the option of taking online classes and studying on their own time is critically important.”

-Tom Snyder, Huffington Post

In light of these progressive claims, there are factors to consider when choosing in what manner to pursue your advanced degree. Since the end result is the same — a diploma — which platform of learning is right for you and your needs?

Snyder goes on to say that “online learning has the potential to revolutionize higher education” and that it’s only a matter of time before higher education is mostly, if not fully, offered as an online option. While Snyder’s predictions are not unreasonable, education still has a ways to go before the point of complete digitization is reached. But in the meantime, it’s safe to say that as people continue to get busier and as tuition and living costs continue to rise, more and more aspiring graduate students are considering online programs as an option for reaching their academic goals.

Online vs. FACE-TO-FACE Learning

Let’s take a look at what sets online learning apart from traditional, on-campus learning.

The end result of both online and on-campus programs is a degree, but the two methods are diverse in many regards. The biggest difference is that traditional learning takes place on-campus for a majority of the time, whereas online learning allows students to complete all coursework at a distance. To enhance experiential learning, several graduate programs offered via WVU Online are considered low-residency. In this format, students come to campus to complete a site-based residency to collaborate with faculty, staff and peers.

Another difference reveals itself in coursework completion methods — with traditional students located in lecture halls and online students working in a variety of environments. Despite solely using a digital medium, social interaction still exists online. Students communicate with each other and their instructors through the use of video chats, email, and discussion posts, compared to on-campus students who can meet in person with their peers and attend office hours for professors.

Both types of students receive comments and critiques from their instructors through these different communication outlets, but even the feedback varies in amount and medium depending on learning environment. There is likely more in-person feedback given to traditional students, and the majority of feedback for online students is sent through emails, comments on virtual documents, or via phone.

Flexibility and accessibility are on nearly different ends of the spectrum between traditional and online learning, but the features of online programs might be preferable over those of being in a physical classroom.

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WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES (AND DISADVANTAGES) TO ONLINE LEARNING?

Besides the obvious difference between online and on-campus learning — one is an opportunity to learn in a virtual manner rather than going to an in-person class — there are more advantages to pursuing an advanced degree through online learning than you might think.

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, to an extent. 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.

Online students can also afford time to have a job to help earn money toward their tuition and other obligations. This results in lower “opportunity cost:” If a student has the flexibility to earn a salary while earning an advanced degree, the money put towards the graduate degree is more manageable than for students with no income.

ACCESSIBILITY

Some students do not have the finances to 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 cannot make a commute.

Traditional professors often hold office hours for students to ask questions, however, this method of meeting can be unconventional when the instructor’s schedule is booked or when the student has other classes or a job that prevents them from meeting during the designated hours. Online learning allows students to contact their professors via video chats or email, so there is less pressure to find an exact time to ask questions or receive feedback. Instructors who focus solely on the online sphere have more time to dedicate to answering emails and scheduling video conferences and tutoring. There is a significant difference in interpersonal communication since all conversations are held through a computer, but the amount of social interaction is not necessarily reduced.

GREEN LEARNING

On the same side of interaction, all correspondence on assignments (and the assignments themselves!) between professors and students is digital. None of the work is print-based, therefore, there is not a waste of materials.

DISPELLED STIGMAS

Some aspiring graduate students have concerns regarding the validity or prestigiousness of an online degree, but ultimately, “the type of degree you have earned is going to be much more important to your employer than the method...online or on campus.” In a survey conducted by Excelsior College and Zogby International, “83 percent of executives” said “an online degree is as credible as one earned through a traditional [program].” 

LET TECHNOLOGY
GUIDE YOU

Technology can bridge the gap for students who are learning from an online curriculum. Some demonstrations in the classroom are not experienced in the same way by someone watching a lecture on their computer, but using video demonstrations in online lessons can provide a realistic and similar experience.

Additionally, instructors are trained to be proficient in using the digital tools necessary for effective teaching and learning. Thankfully, schools have been implementing new, developing technologies in order to stay current, and incoming students can be informed of these changes as they occur. Students have immediate access to their professors and can ask for clarification on how to use a variety of online systems. Many teachers agree that constantly-growing technology “provides a greater ability to tailor lessons … to the individual needs of each student.”

WANT THE COMPLETE ONLINE TOOLKIT?

Whether you’re curious about online vs. face-to-face learning, the advantages and disadvantages of graduate school online, or the ROI of a graduate degree – we’re here to help! Our guide will help you make an informed and confident decision regarding your next academic venture!

IMAGINE WHERE IS BEST FOR YOU TO LEARN

Before choosing to enroll in an advanced online academic program, you need to ask yourself several questions:

  • Where do I see myself thriving as I learn?

  • Do I have the discipline to initiate productivity in a virtual learning environment?

  • Am I willing to put in as much time and effort as traditional students?

  • Will I miss the in-person contact I would receive on campus?

These are all important questions to consider, because as a participant in an online program, you will be working from places like your home, a coffee shop, a library, or even at work during your breaks. You need to really consider what it will mean for you to participate in an academic program in a variety of places — besides a classroom. Because while learning from home, a cafe, or a library might seem ideal for some students, distractions can occur and the comforts of these places might create a lack of motivation. Discipline and self motivation is an important factor in online schooling.

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WHAT’S THE ROI OF AN ONLINE GRADUATE DEGREE? OR OF A GRADUATE DEGREE IN GENERAL?

Considering the above information regarding the differences between online and traditional programs and the benefits of choosing online over traditional, the question still remains, is an online master’s still worth the time? Many readers might be curious of the actual return on investment (ROI), or how much a master’s degree, in general, will pay off.

The bottom line is that people with master’s degrees are consistently shown to earn more than those who only earned a bachelor’s degree. In fact, graduate degree holders make an average of $17,000 more per year than bachelor’s degree holders, and master’s degree holders will typically earn about $400,000 more than their bachelor’s degree counterparts over their lifespan.

Here are a few examples of specific careers that yield higher incomes based on education level.

BUSINESS

Business graduates with an MBA earn an average of 50 percent more over time than students without an MBA, suggesting that an MBA could offer more opportunities for networking and overall career advancement.

EDUCATION

Those pursuing a master's in education have been reported to earn "about $23,000 a year in average more than those with only bachelor's." Not only that, but a master's in education also presents a wide range of careers, including university professor positions.

HEALTH CARE

The payout for health care programs is also considerable, with a clinical nurse specialist with a master's in nursing earning $95,000 over the average $79,000 earned by the registered nurse with only a bachelor's degree. Graduate school is a significantly larger investment, but the earned degree could help when the search for a career begins.

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As mentioned above, one of the advantages of going to graduate school online is having the ability to work a job during school to make tuition and living installments. This advantage raises a point about the job search that begins after earning the degree. In a working environment, employers tend to view job experience as a priority, and earning a master’s degree online will allow a person to maintain a full-time job while gaining the experience employers desire.

As for the cost compared to a traditional education, an article from CollegeChoice.net stated:

“Online education is one of the most affordable, accessible, and flexible ways to earn an advanced degree. Having completely shed the stigma it once held, studying online is now recognized as an equal to traditional education — because most schools deliver the same content online, with the same faculty, as they do in the classroom.”

Find the program that's right for you.

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ONLINE GRAD CERTIFICATES

25+

ONLINE & LOW-RESIDENCY GRAD DEGREES

300+

ONLINE GRAD COURSES

WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY IS DEDICATED TO PROVIDING ACCESSIBILITY TO GRADUATE DEGREE PROGRAMS FOR NONTRADITIONAL LEARNERS.

Some higher education institutions, including West Virginia University (WVU), offer a variety of online graduate programs at the same tuition rates for in-state and non-residents.

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 consider 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. Keep your career on path by searching for highly-ranked online programs that won’t financially debilitate you.

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 rather than 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. WVU boasts as a “best value” university since tuition rates are low compared to similar higher education institutions.

“West Virginia University is committed to providing accessibility to degrees for nontraditional learners. WVU Online offers over 30 graduate degrees and certificates that allow our students to complete a quality education while balancing family, work and other responsibilities. Our promise to online learners is to provide an affordable degree, with a commitment to student success and instructional excellence, from a nationally recognized brand.”

-Dr. Keith Bailey, Dean of WVU Online and
Assistant Provost for Teaching and Learning

Note: Students are also encouraged to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to verify their eligibility for grants, scholarships, and other financial aid. The deadline for priority submissions is March 1st, so applicants should take advantage and look ahead.

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HERE AT WVU, WE TAKE ONLINE LEARNING
PRETTY SERIOUSLY.

For some additional information on the graduate programs offered at West
Virginia University, check out the blog posts below from our graduate
education blog, The Summit Ahead.

7 MASTER’S DEGREES AT WVU
4 ONLINE GRADUATE  BUSINESS DEGREES
4 REASONS TO CONSIDER AN  ONLINE MBA PROGRAM
4 GRADUATE DEGREES FOR  ASPIRING TECHNOLOGISTS
WVU MAKING THE WORLD BETTER  WITH THESE 5 DEGREES
FROM EGYPT TO WEST VIRGINIA

SUBSCRIBE TO THE SUMMIT AHEAD

The Summit Ahead is a weekly blog that helps 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.

TAKE A LOOK AT THE ONLINE GRADUATE PROGRAMS OFFERED AT WVU:

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“WVU Online strives to help nontraditional learners make a seamless transition back into the classroom. WVU Online has a team of enrollment coaches dedicated to the online learner who work to build trusting relationships with each student by attempting to understand their individual goals, and making connections between those priorities and West Virginia University.”

-Julie Thalman, Executive Director of
Enrollment Services and Marketing for WVU Online

M.S. IN BUSINESS
DATA ANALYTICS

Organizations everywhere are in search of people who can use data to enhance decision making and explain trends and competition. In fact, the demand for people with “deep analytic” skills will exceed available workers by as much as 60 percent by 2018, according to McKinsey & Company. That means if you’re interested in statistical techniques, data mining, and analysis, a career in “big data” may be the right fit for you.

WVU Online’s M.S. in Business Data Analytics requires 30 credit hours for completion and can be completed in only two years. On top of that, all courses are offered online.

HOWARD BUGG

Howard Bugg is pursuing his M.S. in Business Data Analytics at WVU Online. He’s a husband and new father with a full-time job and demanding graduate assistantship. We asked him how he’s able to balance his busy schedule with online classes: “I couldn’t do it without my support systems. All of the help I get from my wife at home, and the flexibility of my boss and from WVU is what has really made all of this possible.”

BUSINESS & TECH:

BUSINESS DATA  ANALYTICS M.S
MASTER OF BUSINESS   ADMIN MBA
SAFETY MANAGEMENT M.S.
SOFTWARE ENGINEERING   MASTER’S DEGREE MSSE

M.S. INTEGRATED
MARKETING
COMMUNICATIONS

Integrated Marketing Communications is a new way to approach marketing — by viewing the whole marketing picture, not just the parts. Students in the program learn to see things they way the consumer sees them — as a constant flow of information from indistinguishable sources.

WVU's M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is offered exclusively online, and no classroom attendance is required. This enables students to earn their degrees in this fast-growing field from anywhere in the world.

BERNADETTE DOMBROWSKI

COMMUNICATIONS:

COMMUNICATIONS   STUDIES M.A.
DATA MARKETING   COMMUNICATIONS
INTEGRATED MARKETING   COMMUNICATIONS M.S.

Bernadette Dombrowski moved from New Jersey to WVU to pursue her bachelor’s degree. Upon completion of her four-year degree, Bernadette took the plunge and enrolled in WVU’s IMC online graduate program: "I was always interested in the IMC program. It’s basically a more in-depth and practice-based version of my public relations degree and I loved that it was online. The program gave me the opportunity to work during the day and do my school work in the evenings."

M.S. SAFETY MANAGEMENT

WVU’s online Safety Management program focuses on preparing graduates to identify hazards in the workplace, design and implement procedures to protect workers, investigate workplace accidents, and conduct training on safety procedures. Graduates lead the organization to ensure that safety functions are a profitable business venture.

The job market for safety professionals is strong: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 4 percent increase in the number of jobs in this field through 2024. The M.S. in Safety Management offers multiple start dates, providing even more flexibility to the online learner.

M.A. SPECIAL EDUCATION

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for special education teachers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2012 to 2022. The Special Education program is delivered online, with live synchronous class meetings. Students are required to complete field/clinical experience(s) in his/her home community.

EDUCATION:

ADVANCED ELEMENTARY   EDUCATION M.A.
LITERACY EDUCATION M.A.   (WITH CERTIFICATION)
SCHOOL HEALTH   EDUCATION M.S.
HIGHER EDUCATION   ADMIN M.A.
INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN   AND TECHNOLOGY
SPECIAL EDUCATION   DOCTORAL DEGREE
PHYSICAL EDUCATION   TEACHER EDUCATION M.S.
SPECIAL EDUCATION M.A.   AND/OR CERTIFICATION
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M.S. SPORT MANAGEMENT

Options for WVU's Sport Management program and its two focus areas allow students to start any semester – fall, spring, summer.

Requirements for our program include desiring a career in the sport industry, having an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, and having a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75. The online program consists of 10 total courses and students can complete their degree in less than 2 years.

STEVE ROBERTSON

Steve Robertson, otherwise known as “Lancer Pants” at his current job where he’s serving as the director of Marketing and Fan Engagement at Longwood University, pursued WVU’s online Sport Management graduate degree: “WVU’s Sport Management program is nationally ranked — in the Top Ten again this year—and one of the 50 top programs in the world. You want to be in that company.”

SPORT:

SPORT COACHING M.S.
SPORT MANAGMENT M.S.

REQUEST MORE INFORMATION

Interested in learning more about the graduate programs at West Virginia University? You can request more information by filling out the short form below.

ADDITIONAL PROGRAMS

NURSING

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE TO   DOCTOR NURSING PRACTICE
DOCTORATE OF NURSING   PRACTICE DNP
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN   NURSING MSN
NURSING DOCTOR OF   PHILOSOPHY
MASTER OF SCIENCE   IN NURSING & MBA

COUNSELING

CLINICAL REHAB & MENTAL   HEALTH COUNSELING M.S.

MUSIC

MUSIC INDUSTRY M.A.

FORENSICS & LAW

FORENSIC JUSTICE LLM
FORENSIC & FRAUD   EXAMINATION M.S.
LEGAL STUDIES M.L.S

UNDERSTANDING THE ONLINE GRADUATE CERTIFICATES AT WVU

West Virginia University offers four online graduate certificate programs, each one designed to prepare students with the skills and knowledge to succeed in a variety of industries.

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FORENSIC ACCOUNTING AND FRAUD EXAMINATION (FAFE) GRADUATE CERTIFICATE

FORENSIC ACCOUNTING AND FRAUD EXAMINATION (FAFE) GRADUATE CERTIFICATE

The graduate certificate in Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination requires students to complete four courses. All four courses are taught using actual and simulated case materials, a hands-on approach to prepare students for their careers in litigation support, forensic accounting and fraud examination. To mimic real-world expectations, students are required to perform two actual engagements and report their findings both in writing and orally – see pitch-to-prosecutor and moot court exercise.

GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND SPATIAL ANALYSIS GRADUATE CERTIFICATE

GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND SPATIAL ANALYSIS GRADUATE CERTIFICATE

The graduate certificate in GIS and Spatial Analysis is intended to augment the educational tracks of a wide number of students from across West Virginia University with the ability to analyze spatial data at an advanced level. The program provides advanced teaching, research and academic program support for the development of applications of GIS and spatial analysis across multiple disciplines.

INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS GRADUATE CERTIFICATE

INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS GRADUATE CERTIFICATE

Professionals wanting to learn new skills and polish old ones can do so with cutting edge curriculum found in the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program. The 15 credit hour IMC graduate certificate provides students with a broad overview of IMC, focusing on several integral aspects of the discipline. Students working toward their IMC certificate take one course per term for one calendar year (five sessions).

SOFTWARE ENGINEERING GRADUATE CERTIFICATE

SOFTWARE ENGINEERING GRADUATE CERTIFICATE

Professionals in the information technology and computer industries can enhance their education and career possibilities by earning a graduate certificate in Software Engineering. The courses are offered one evening each week live via the Internet and students can also review the archived lectures online if they have to miss.

HEAR FROM A STUDENT ENROLLED IN WVU’S ONLINE SOFTWARE ENGINEERING GRADUATE PROGRAM

Tell me a little bit about yourself. What’s your name/age/hometown?

Herbert W. Richardson III, 57, I was born in  Morgantown, and I live in Shinnston, WV.

What graduate certificate did you pursue at WVU? Was it online?

I previously earned a graduate certificate in Corporate Communications in 1992 where the classes were held remotely in Buckhannon, WV. I am currently pursuing the online M.S. in Software Engineering.

Tell me about your current program. What skills are you learning that will help you to challenge convention and promote innovation in your industry?

The online-only MSSE is 33 hours, providing a mixture of technical and management courses geared towards students already in the workforce. Much of the coursework is directly related to the work that I do in the SW engineering field. I wish that I would have taken these courses 20 years ago; it certainly would have helped me in my career!

How do you handle the online nature of the program? Do you find that it helps or hinders your learning?

My life being what it is, online is the only option I could pursue. It took a while to get comfortable in this setting as I was very much a ‘brick and mortar’ guy. The lectures certainly supplement the course material but like most graduate studies, the student is responsible with reading and researching and not expected to be ‘spoon-fed’ by the professor.

What convinced you to enroll in an online master’s program?

I became an empty nester, my new company pays the tuition and fees, and I have a constant yearn to learn.

When will you graduate with your master’s? What do you hope to do professionally upon graduation?

I will graduate either summer or fall 2018. I plan to stay in the same engineering field and hopefully these newly learned skills make me more marketable.

What advice do you have for individuals considering an online master’s program at WVU?

Plan to devote 5-15 hours per week to study + 1-2.5 hrs of lecture. Acquire the required and optional textbooks and other media if possible. Most importantly, like everything else in life, manage your time!

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EXPLORE OUR ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

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MORE ABOUT GRADUATE EDUCATION AT WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY

The Admissions Team here at West Virginia University hopes that this guide has been helpful in informing you of the various online options here at WVU. Here’s a bit more information on West Virginia University as an institution: West Virginia University is located in beautiful Morgantown, WV, a community noted for its central location near Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, and New York City. Founded in 1867 as a land-grant institution, WVU promises to “… deliver high-quality education, excel in discovery and innovation, model a culture of diversity and inclusion, promote health and vitality, and build pathways for the exchange of knowledge and opportunity between the state, the nation, and the world.”

The stimulating graduate community of scholar-teachers and passionate learners at WVU creates an environment that welcomes your desire to grow, to learn, and to add to the growing body of knowledge in your field. As a WVU graduate learner, you engage in internationally recognized academic programs.

If you want more information about graduate admission requirements, financial aid, or to learn more about the graduate application process, visit WVU’s Office of Graduate Admissions & Recruitment website.

If you’re ready to apply to WVU, we invite you to click on the button below and start your application!

APPLY NOW

CONTACT INFORMATION

WVU Online
150 Clay Street
Morgantown, WV 26506
1-800-253-2762
wvuonline@mail.wvu.edu

Office of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment
West Virginia University
Phone: 304-293-5980 Fax:304-293-1147
GraduateAdmissions@mail.wvu.edu

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