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Online learning is changing the structure of obtaining a post-secondary degree. By utilizing digital technology, people of all ages and backgrounds can receive an outstanding education without setting foot on campus. The reputation of the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) is well-known, and students who obtain a degree can benefit from its prestige. By learning more about the World Campus (WC), you can better understand your online learning options and grasp whether it is the right school for you.
Here are eight questions about Penn State online learning you’ve likely been asking yourself.
1. What Degrees Types Are Offered?
At Penn State World Campus, there are over 150 degrees and certificate programs to choose between. The expansive selection includes Associate, Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral programs. It also offers undergraduate and graduate minors and certificates. With such a wide-spread selection of degree types, Penn State online learning appeals to people of all education levels.
If you entered the workforce directly after high school and began a career, you can use these online opportunities to advance your job prospects. Even a certificate or minor represents a specialization that sets you apart from other employees and hiring candidates.
Programs span 13 different industries, including business, education, engineering, law, human resources, liberal arts, and technology. Less common sectors are also covered, such as Homeland Security, turfgrass, and energy and sustainability.
2. How Long are the Programs?
The length of your degree or certificate at Penn State online learning is based on the type and semester course load. The World Campus offers three semesters when students can take classes. To be recognized as a full-time student, you must take at least 12 credits for undergraduate programs in the spring and fall semesters. Typically this equates to four to six classes since most courses are about three to four credits each. Taking courses during the summer semester is optional, but it can be a way to speed up your degree completion.
In total, associates degrees are about 60-64 credits while bachelor degrees are approximately double. You can expect a bachelor’s degree to take approximately four years to complete if you are going to school full-time.
3. Who is a Good Fit for Online Learning?
Online learning is an outstanding opportunity for those who are juggling multiple commitments but still want to advance their education. It’s essential to recognize the limitations of distance learning. As a student, you will not have the same social experience as you would on campus. Extracurricular clubs and activities are more limited for World Campus students. Additionally, the connection with teachers and other students differs from what you would experience at a traditional brick and mortar school.
If you have good time management skills and are focused primarily on the educational opportunities college presents, then online learning could be the perfect fit. The World Campus cuts out unnecessary commute times and physical commitments so that you can complete the work on your schedule. This sort of structure appeals to a variety of students and professionals.
4. How Much Does It Cost?
Since you are going to school online, you skip traditional room and board fees. Instead, you pay for your degree based on credits and course load. For the 2020-21 academic year, if you take less than 11 credits, you qualify as part-time and pay per credit. If you are a full-time student, then you pay a set fee per semester. Those who have taken 59 credits or fewer will pay $6,994 each semester, or $7,549 if you have over 60 credits.
Keep in mind that the school evaluates the costs every semester, so it is subject to change. Additionally, some courses may have additional fees, such as lab and technology expenses.
5. Is Financial Aid Available?
As with any college degree, financial aid is available for students. You can also apply for scholarships unique to Penn State as a World Campus student. Make sure you fill in your FAFSA each year to be eligible for government grants and loans.
6. What Support Is Available for Students?
As a World Campus student, multiple levels of support are available to you at all times. Once begun your degree program, you’ll have an academic advisor assigned to you. This individual will be a resource who can answer your questions. You’ll have meetings or touchpoints with them each semester to help keep you on track as your progress through your studies.
Besides academic advisors, you also have your professors who offer support. Most professors will list office hours and phone and email details, which makes contacting them simple.
Since courses are entirely online, it’s crucial that you feel comfortable interacting with technology. Rest assured knowing that Penn State offers tech support and online learning tutorials to guide first-time distance learners.
7. Who Can Study at the School?
The school does not discriminate, so as long as you meet their requirements, you have a great chance of being accepted. The World Campus is open to international students, so you can apply even if you do not reside in the United States.
Additionally, they accept transfer students, so it’s possible to switch from another school. Simply be aware that some of your classes may not qualify if you transfer, so you may have to take duplicate courses that can prolong your study time.
8. What Equipment Is Required?
With Penn State online learning, the only equipment required is a good internet connection and computer access. While you can technically access course information from your phone or tablet, the display and optimization are poorly configured. Hence, it’s best to use a laptop or computer for actual assignments and exams. One perk of being a PSU student is you’ll receive free access to Microsoft Office and Zoom.
Taking the Next Step
With answers to these right questions, evaluate whether PSU WC is the best choice for you. Before applying, you can visit their website for an in-depth look at the courses that make up each degree program. Using what you find, you can accurately estimate how long the degree would take you to complete and whether the program sounds interesting.