Completing Online Courses and Programs

Published: Tues., March 6, 2018

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been involved in distance education for over 100 years. It began with mail-in/correspondence study, advanced to field classes in remote locations and satellite television transmission, and now offering courses over the Internet.

Many of the online programs are nationally recognized for their quality and rigor. Students are taught by the same faculty as on-campus students and the courses/degree requirements are exactly the same. These programs are considered some of the best in the nation.

Why Choose Online Courses/Programs?

There are a variety of reasons why you might choose to enroll in an online course or program. For some, it is simply logistics. They may not live near a university that offers a program they are interested in and are unable to relocate for the program. Others may choose to pursue an online program due to the reputation of that program even if there are closer programs. Others may choose to take a few online courses because those work better in their schedule. Since online courses are often offered largely or entirely asynchronously, it is easy for online courses to fit into busy schedules, especially for those with full-time jobs or other personal responsibilities.

UNL Online Graduate Programs

Graduate programs available partially or completely online include certificates, master’s, and doctoral degrees. UNL offers certificates, Master's degrees, and Doctoral degrees in a variety of fields, including:

Master's and Doctoral Degrees

Check this UNL website for the list of graduate certificates and degrees offered online. Go to the prespective program to get specific information, including graduate degrees/certificates available, admission requirements, application deadlines, staff and faculty contacts, and courses. Click on the specific link (Programs, Contacts, Apply!, Description, and Faculty).

Enrolling in Online Courses

Students enrolled in residential graduate programs on campus can augment their schedules with online courses.

To search for online classes for upcoming semesters, go to the Schedule of Classes, and select the institution (UNL), Term, Subject, course, and choose the mode of instruction (Online Distance Class).

Most courses run the regular 16-week semesters in the fall (starting the end of August) and spring (starting the second week in January). In the summer, there are three-week and eight-week sessions and two five-week sessions. The exceptions are the courses for the online Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) and online Master of Engineering Management (M.E.M.) programs. Those courses are eight weeks and there are five sessions in a calendar year, starting in August. Typically, you will take online classes during the same time frame as the semester; only the presentation of the course will vary.

The university’s Office of Online and Distance Education provides support for students enrolled in online courses and programs. It also has a staff of instructional design specialists who assist faculty in the development of online courses.

Tips for Online Success

Time management is #1 priority for success as a distance learner. Having not to attend a face-to-face class on a regular basis may seem like a luxury but to be successful in online classes, students must have self-discipline. Self-direction and internal motivation are requirements. Be accountable for your actions. You should take responsibility for making sure you do the readings, assignments, and participate in group activities or discussions.

Many students studying online have multiple commitments including assistantships, off-campus work, family or home responsibilities, and community engagements, and other demands that pull on the time available to devote to course requirements. Being able to focus and meet deadlines is critical.

Below are some tips recommended by the Office of Online and Distance Education for being a good online student:

  • Confirm technical requirements and be sure you have access to the right equipment and software before class starts.
  • Connect with instructors early.
  • Create a schedule and stay organized.
    • Review the syllabus early, create a weekly schedule with assignment due dates, plan in advance and set aside more time than anticipated to complete projects and papers. Working full time, balancing family and personal commitments as well as distance learning requires revisiting priorities regularly.
    • Stay on top of the week’s reading.
    • Log in often and look for new information posted throughout the week.
  • Have a quiet, consistent workspace. Because you can work on your coursework anywhere it might be tempting to work somewhere other than an office. If you have a designated workspace for completing coursework, it will be easier to keep to a schedule and you’ll be less likely to be distracted by other things going on around you.
  • Know what kind of learner you are, and plan how you will use your strengths to help you accomplish the class outcomes.
  • When needed, ask for help before things become emergencies, be proactive in self-advocacy. Pose quality questions and engage in dialogues with members of the class.
  • Utilize all the resources available—Get your books early and know how to access the library resources. Remember just because you are an online student and may not be on UNL’s campus, does not mean you won’t have access to the resources available at the library. Electronically available Interlibrary Loan resources are still available for those not on UNL’s campus.
  • Set realistic expectations for yourself.

As mentioned earlier, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has long been a national and international leader in the area of online/distance education. Graduate students in all disciplines can take advantage of these courses to meet class schedule demands and advance toward degree completion.