Online Programs in Higher Education
September 1, 2010 12:28 PM   Subscribe

Are there good online programs for a Masters of Higher Education degree? Specifically I'm interested in a career in academic advising or student development and would prefer online courses that meet in the evening.

I live in Massachusetts, so programs in another time zone that have afternoon classes that for me would be evening are a possibility (courses that start at 3 California time would be 6 for me and so forth). I'm not picky about the physical location of the program as long as it's legitimate and nationally accredited.

I've done a few google searches and have a few places to look more deeply into, but I'd like to see what programs others may be familiar with.
posted by zizzle to Education (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I live in Mass too, and I am in the Drexel University Master's of Science in Higher Education program right now. Wrapping up my 6th of 8 quarters. The online course there (and like most online programs) are asynchronous, so you're studying at whatever time you like, evenings or otherwise, with the exception of a few "live" classrooms that have always been in the evening for me. There are definite pros and cons, feel free to email me for details b/c I don't want to put too much of that here.

Also, please make sure you look for programs that are regionally accredited, not nationally. I know it sounds backwards, but regional is the more legit one, not national.
posted by dayintoday at 12:57 PM on September 1, 2010

A lot of online classes are asynchronous. The only times that count are deadlines for submitting papers, projects, or whatever. Some are hybrids in which a few times a semester students are asked to participate in a video chat kind of thing at a particular time, or even get together in real life for a class.
posted by mareli at 12:57 PM on September 1, 2010

You probably know this already, but it's worth asking around among current practitioners in your area as to the value placed on an on-line credential. Depending the field of study, opinions can vary widely, from fully accepting to completely dismissive. Particularly with a subject like higher education advising, which involves college (an often very traditional institution) and advising (usually a highly interpersonal activity), I'd be curious how readily accepted on-line format degrees would be among potential employers.
posted by 5Q7 at 4:40 PM on September 1, 2010

I chose the Drexel program for the reason that 5Q7 mentioned. First, the degree says Drexel University and is identical to their on-ground version. Second, there is a co-op component that involves working in the field.
posted by dayintoday at 4:50 PM on September 1, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks. Drexel's program was one of the ones I was looking into.

I mentioned national accreditation because the school at university I work for is nationally accredited by the regional chapter of a particular association. I didn't realize that wasn't par for the course.

Also, the online programs (not higher ed) offered through my school involve live chat sessions that meet at the same time each week through Blackboard. I didn't realize the asynchronous was the preferred method for online programs in general.

I'm also aware of how online programs are viewed by practitioners, but it's also been my experience (working at a university) that if the degree is from a legitimate and accredited university, whether it was attained online or on campus doesn't matter so much. There is an on campus higher ed program through my employer that I am also considering, but the course meeting times are not at a good time for me. I have an idea of expectations in coursework for higher ed from reviewing that curriculum and as long as the online degree covers the same core topics in one form or another and involves a practicum component, it should be fine.
posted by zizzle at 7:20 AM on September 2, 2010

Just to clarify: national vs. regional accreditation isn't the same as accreditation by a field-specific organization.

Here's a page from our vet school that describes their accreditation process.

Our university as a whole is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. This reaccreditation process occurs every 10 years, and we just got through with it (whew!).

Here's a list of recognized US accrediting organizations provided by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. (May be behind an agreement wall.)

That said, not all national for-profit universities (your University of Phoenixes, Waldens and Capellas) are nationally accredited. All three of those universities are regionally accredited by a reputable accreditor. However, they also have the ability to move their offices/campuses (because they lack a lot of physical infrastructure) to fall under the auspices of a different regional accrediting authority. Here's one article about this phenomenon.

And here's a recent article about the problems with the regional vs. national issue.
posted by Madamina at 2:18 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

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