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Interview: Preston DuBose, Distance Education, Texas A&M University

Preston DuBose from the Office of Distance Education at Texas A&M University joins us today to discuss distance education.

Tell us about the distance learning programs offered at Texas A&M University.

Texas A&M offers 20 graduate degrees and 3 graduate certificate programs by distance education. The entire list of degrees and certificates can be found at by Clicking Here.

What is the typical duration of each of your programs?

Distance programs at Texas A&M follow the same format and requirements as on-campus graduate programs, consequently the durations are roughly the same. Figure 2 to 3 years for a master's degree and longer for a doctoral degree.

What would you say makes Texas A&M University programs different and better than other comparable online programs?

As a major research university, Texas A&M attracts world-renowned experts as a part of our faculty. The degree programs by distance education are taught by the same award-winning faculty who teach on our campus. The faculty at Texas A&M includes winners of the Nobel Prize, National Medal of Science, Pulitzer Prize, World Food Prize and Wolf Prize, with 26 holding membership in the prestigious National Academy of Sciences or the National Academy of Engineering.

How important would you say accreditation is when choosing an online college?

Accreditation should be extremely important. These days there are many accredited online colleges from which to choose. Even if you're just taking a class for the knowledge and never expect to transfer the credit somewhere else, you're still safer choosing an accredited college. For one thing, you never know when circumstances will change and you'll need those college credits after all. If the college isn't accredited, you'd be out of luck.

There is some debate as to whether or not online degrees are as worthwhile as traditional degrees. What steps does Texas A&M University take to ensure that online students are receiving the same education that they'd receive in a classroom?

In many if not most cases, at Texas A&M the syllabus for on-campus and online courses is identical. In fact, some online courses are provided with streaming video from Texas A&M's on-campus sections. Both sets of students then have the opportunity to mingle and ask questions in online class forums. Furthermore, each program undergoes periodic, rigorous review, and online courses are treated to the exact same standards as on-campus classes. Finally, Texas A&M's accrediting body has outlined the expectation that on-campus and online courses provide the same education, so it is something we must do to stay accredited.

What would you say are some of the benefits of earning a degree online rather than in a traditional classroom?

Online degrees generally offer the convenience of reviewing course materials at a time that best fits your schedule. Online degrees are great for working adults who can not quit their jobs and possibly even move their families near a campus. Instead you can keep working your 8-5 job, put the kids to bed at night, then log into your class and watching a lecture or read your assignments.

Another fringe benefit is that online classes can actually be better structured than their classroom counterparts. We've all probably had a least one classroom professor who always showed up at the last minute and lectured off the cuff with no clear teaching goal. However, teaching online requires that the lessons be prepared in advance.

If a student enrolled in one of your programs was interested in finding an internship in their field in their area, do you have any means of assisting them in acquiring an internship position?

While faculty can help our students find internships in their fields, most of the distance students enrolled in Texas A&M's graduate programs are already employed. In many cases, their employer is actually helping to defray the cost of their educations.

Does Texas A&M University offer any job placement services to your students and graduates?

Texas A&M's Career Center serves all students at Texas A&M, regardless of whether or not they can come to the Career Center. The Career Center offers advising by e-mail, an electronic portfolio, and a web-based Aggie job board with positions posted by employers from all over the world.

Is financial aid available to students in your programs?

Yes. In most ways, at Texas A&M distance students are treated the same as on-campus students and financial aid is no exception.

Do you have any advice for students enrolling in online classes for the first time?

You will need strong time management skills. Schedule a certain time of day"even if it's 10 PM"to work on your class material. If you don't block out the time and treat it just like classroom time, you'll find other activities crowding out your study time.

To Request more information about the distance learning programs available through Texas A&M University, Go here to visit them online.

Thank you Preston, for sharing and participating in this piece for Online Degrees 2.0

That concludes our interview!

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