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What do you look for in a BA or MA degree program?
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4790
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AnneCO wrote:
Now looking at taking another online course, I feel like I'm drowning in possibilities. I'm trying to look at some reviews of courses - any suggestions out there?

What are you interested in studying?
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cmp45



Joined: 17 Aug 2004
Posts: 1395
Location: KSA

PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AnneCO wrote:
Great thread Nomad Soul.

I studied for my masters before online degrees were available. The content of this education degree was not very good. It contained quite a bit of theoretical ideals without a lot of practical information on how to make it happen in a classroom.

I chose this course or rather fell into it as it was a convenient school University of Colorado Boulder. After completing the degree, I learned from others that many education programs in Colorado are like this.

Taking an online course is an experience in itself and has not been bad for me. If the choice is between sitting in a class and being talked at by a professor or taking an online course I'd probably go for online. If the classroom course incorporates working with the other students and group discussions, I would much prefer the classroom. The social element of school can be wonderful.
Now looking at taking another online course, I feel like I'm drowning in possibilities. I'm trying to look at some reviews of courses - any suggestions out there?


The on-line masters I took had a number of courses where one was required to partcipate in live real time conference discussions with the prof and other students, which meant I had to be up between 12 midnight to about 2am...to be signed in for them...luckily they weren't too many per course...also groups projects where we had to work together...and coordinate our parts...it was a a real challenge! Not to mention having to present the project during a realtime online conference session providing critique feed back on others' projects. Obviously not all on-line programs are the same...some are much more sophisticated- utilizing various technologies more than others. It was challenging, but worth the effort.
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haleynicole14



Joined: 20 Feb 2012
Posts: 174
Location: US

PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:42 pm    Post subject: Graduate degrees Reply with quote

I started taking classes towards a Masters in Teaching at Liberty University Online (http://www.luonline.com/) this fall. I had to stop for this term because nearly all of the classes in the teaching program had a small classroom observation requirement (for example, observe a special education classroom for 10 hours during the term) that I wasn't able to complete at this point. But I am thinking that I will start up classes again soon.

I chose the program because 1) the school was fully accredited and I would be certified to teach in public schools, 2) the cost (~$17,000) was lower than any other program I could find that would provide certification, and 3) the program was mostly online so I could complete it where ever I happened to be living, although there was a "intensive" course requirement that would require me to travel to Virginia for two weeks.

If anyone knows of another mostly online program for cheaper or that they have had a good experience with, please post or PM me! I would be open to transferring my credits to another program if I found one that was a better deal. But overall, being certified to teach in the US seemed like it would be a good option, and I felt that having a TEFL certificate and a Masters in Teaching would help me find jobs abroad as well.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9589
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
-- "Fancy Name" University for prestige, recognition in the TESOL community and with employers
-- Specific course content (coursework)
-- Degree title or program of study (e.g., Applied Linguistics vs. Education vs. English Literature vs. ...)
-- Non-TEFL related field that fits my interests or future career goals
-- None; I just need/needed a degree, any degree
-- Convenience (location or mode of delivery)
-- Cost
-- Other
If you're looking into bachelors or masters degree programs, what are your reasons for doing so?
If you're currently completing your studies or have already obtained a degree, what regrets, if any, do you have about your academic choice(s)? On the other hand, what positive impact has it made?


I wanted a name recognised in the field, and a study course that would allow me to focus on aspects of TEFL teaching that were directly relevant to my work (linking theory to practice in real time).
I chose a programme (MA level) that offered a nice combination of distance learning (during which segments I was able to use my own and colleague's classrooms for action research) and on-site interaction and practicum, where I had the benefit of direct contact with instructors and other students.

I had a bit of luxury in this pursuit in that I had enough money set aside to have some freedom of choice - I wasn't entirely driven by economics, though they played some part, of course!

I needed the MA as my work was already at university level and to secure solid
contracts with benefits, it was necessary - both in terms of regulations and requirements, and in that it made me a better-informed and therefore more successful teacher Very Happy .

My MA has certainly paid off, and I'm working on the preliminaries for a doctorate. However, I'm less certain that a PhD will pay off in terms of wages and benefits - it's more about security and increased opportunities for different types of work at this stage. Where I have work, an MA-only holder risks being marginalised.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 664
Location: US

PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:54 am    Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a BA or MA degree program? Reply with quote

nomad soul wrote:

    -- "Fancy Name" University for prestige, recognition in the TESOL community and with employers
    -- Specific course content (coursework)
    -- Degree title or program of study (e.g., Applied Linguistics vs. Education vs. English Literature vs. ...)
    -- Non-TEFL related field that fits my interests or future career goals
    -- None; I just need/needed a degree, any degree
    -- Convenience (location or mode of delivery)
    -- Cost
    -- Other



For my MA (in TESOL), the biggest factors for me were:

1) Cost: I had some money set aside, but not a lot. My MA ended up costing me nothing because I was a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the university's intensive ESL program, which included a 100% tuition waiver, health insurance, and a stipend, and also gave me 2 years of teaching experience at the university level in the US.

2) Location: I decided I wanted to do my MA on-site rather than via distance. I chose a place with good name-recognition in the field, and that was somewhat close to my parents' home, since I had been teaching abroad for almost a decade and wanted to see spend some time with them.

3) Content: I wanted someplace that had a good balance of theory and practice. I also wanted someplace that included a teaching practicum (the place I ended up choosing required a 1-semester, 2x120-minutes per week, observed practicum).

The reason I chose to get an MA was because I had been teaching part-time at a university in Japan, and when I inquired about a full-time position that was open, I was told that they would like to hire me (because they already knew me), but the university's policies were that they couldn't hire me without a masters. That was the signal to me that I had reached the limit in my career without more education.
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jimi1999uk



Joined: 19 Jul 2009
Posts: 62

PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm tempted to do an Open Uni Applied Linguistics Masters when I finish my degree in a few months (with the OU too).

How badly are OU degrees 'marked down' in the workplace? I do really love the OU, they're cheap, online, etc.

I don't want to spend years of my life doing something with a much lesser practical 'value' when I finally finish it. Thanks Smile
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tttompatz



Joined: 06 Mar 2010
Posts: 1951
Location: Talibon, Bohol, Philippines

PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jimi1999uk wrote:
I'm tempted to do an Open Uni Applied Linguistics Masters when I finish my degree in a few months (with the OU too).

How badly are OU degrees 'marked down' in the workplace? I do really love the OU, they're cheap, online, etc.

I don't want to spend years of my life doing something with a much lesser practical 'value' when I finally finish it. Thanks Smile


Don't know about IN the UK but abroad the OU is treated the same an any other brick&mortar university.

.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4790
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cmp45 wrote:
The on-line masters I took had a number of courses where one was required to partcipate in live real time conference discussions with the prof and other students, which meant I had to be up between 12 midnight to about 2am...to be signed in for them...luckily they weren't too many per course...also groups projects where we had to work together...and coordinate our parts...it was a a real challenge! Not to mention having to present the project during a realtime online conference session providing critique feed back on others' projects. Obviously not all on-line programs are the same...some are much more sophisticated- utilizing various technologies more than others.

I totally agree with your last point that not all online or distance learning platforms are the same; some feel like self-study, while others are interactive or a combination of the two. This means thoroughly assessing which one is the right fit for your learning style, personality, time constraints, etc., when considering taking an online course or enrolling in a BA or MA program as a distance learner.

I've taken some online courses through an Australian uni and from the Indiana University, both via Blackboard. The Aussie program felt more like self-learning; I reviewed the handouts, did the readings, and completed the required assignments within the timeframes alotted for each. I never met my classmates and only knew what countries they from and what graduate program they were in. Class participation was nil. The instructors were available by email for assistance and of course, provided feedback on each assignment. However, I only interacted with them a few times. I found the learning experience satisfying in terms of what I learned, and I still challenged myself to consistently put out high-quality work. But the online course structure itself was impersonal and routine-like. Not my cup of tea.

In contrast, the two Indiana U. online courses I took were very engaging and felt more like a traditional classroom learning environment in that I interacted with my instructors and classmates on the discussion board four to five days a week and when collaborating on team projects. The global diversity my classmates represented was particularly fascinating and offered unique perspectives in teaching and learning. Class partipation was a major portion of our grade, which entailed posting our own original comments based on a topic or question and also fully responding to at least three classmates' posts. Many of us ended up posting above the number required and would create these long discussion threads in which the instructor would also join in. Overall, the learning experience from IU not only was satisfying, but highly stimulating as well. Definitely my cup of tea!
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jimi1999uk



Joined: 19 Jul 2009
Posts: 62

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="tttompatz"]
jimi1999uk wrote:


Don't know about IN the UK but abroad the OU is treated the same an any other brick&mortar university.

.


Really? On rereading the past posts, a poster said that Saudi Arabia didn't accept distance degrees. Is Saudi the only current example you think (currently)? I'm scared of what the future will hold, that is all. I've seen that Indonesia in only accepting English degrees, which is good for me. I hate to think what some govt. official will decree next Smile

I probably will stick with the OU because I love them.

Out of curiosity though, is there distance MA that hides its nature a bit? Y'know, one month attendance at the uni, then the other 2 years or whatever distance? Thanks all. Thanks for reply tttompatz Smile
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4790
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jimi1999uk wrote:
On rereading the past posts, a poster said that Saudi Arabia didn't accept distance degrees. Is Saudi the only current example you think (currently)? I'm scared of what the future will hold, that is all. I've seen that Indonesia in only accepting English degrees, which is good for me. I hate to think what some govt. official will decree next Smile

Although the Saudi Ministry of Higher Ed doesn't recognize online/distance degrees, that's not to say all Saudi universities (particularly the private ones) don't accept them. However, the MoHE is presently working on a plan to establish an electronic university in the Kingdom, which means their perception of elearning is slowly evolving.

BTW, there's Arab Open University, which is affiliated with the UK's Open Uni. AOU is presently operating in Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain, KSA, Egypt, and Oman. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Open_University )
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jimi1999uk



Joined: 19 Jul 2009
Posts: 62

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks nomad soul. That's good to hear.

I'd love to stay with the OU, but I was mindful of getting shafted some years down the line which would be a pain.

I'm tempted to jump straight into Applied Linguistics anyway. The OU has turned me from an average bum, into someone who has a real thirst for lifelong learning. I can't rate the OU enough Smile
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Sweaty Ted



Joined: 17 Mar 2012
Posts: 54
Location: USA

PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is it accredited by the standard organization? Is it affordable? Do they offer assistantships, for example? If they do, you may get your tuition paid for in exchange for teaching two classes. Also, it should be a university that you physically attend, at least for the majority of your courses. Degrees taken in residency are valued much more than distance-learning degrees.
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tttompatz



Joined: 06 Mar 2010
Posts: 1951
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sweaty Ted wrote:
Is it accredited by the standard organization? Is it affordable? Do they offer assistant-ships, for example? If they do, you may get your tuition paid for in exchange for teaching two classes. Also, it should be a university that you physically attend, at least for the majority of your courses. Degrees taken in residency are valued much more than distance-learning degrees.


Most of which is largely irrelevant for those who are NOT American since degree/diploma mills are illegal in the rest of the main "anglophone" countries and largely don't exist.

Degrees earned by distance from recognized institutions of higher learning like the OU (UK), Athabasca U (Canada) or brick & mortar universities (MIT) are valued equally to those earned from places like XXXX State U (or Podunk-U for that matter) and the degree doesn't state "distance learning" on it.

The point about looking at an assistant-ship is valid however. It IS nice to complete your post grad degree without the necessity of student loans or working full time while studying (triply so in the US where tuition is priced through the roof).

.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
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Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sweaty Ted wrote:
Is it accredited by the standard organization? Is it affordable? Do they offer assistantships, for example? If they do, you may get your tuition paid for in exchange for teaching two classes. Also, it should be a university that you physically attend, at least for the majority of your courses. Degrees taken in residency are valued much more than distance-learning degrees.

But what's your education experience like? How does the above relate to you personally in terms of meeting your academic needs, goals, and interests? What were the reasons for choosing your current degree program and university? Any regrets?
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
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Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My first MA was very cheap. Got a half scholarship for being a teacher at one of their unis. Not good. For those looking for a cheap option all I can say is that you get what you pay for. Thesis advisor took forever to get back to me and I only heard from him when he approved my idea and gave me my grade, no feedback in between. Mistakes on my actual diploma, which took a year for them to release. Started in Feb 2006, finally had my corrected diploma in Oct 2010. 4.5 years. My BA took a year less.

Second MA, went through Deakin in Australia. Highly recommend it.

One of the things I look for is good communication, espeically if you're doing a distance learning option. I want people to return my emails in a timely matter.

Another thing I look at is difficulty to get accepted. I got accepted into USQ's MA programme within hours, needless to say, I didn't do the MA there. I figured they were after my money. How could they accept me without seeing transcripts, etc?

Flexibility is another thing, I want to be able to take courses that interest me and have the option to choose courses. Not just have a set schedule. I know that some required courses are good and necessary, but let's face it, everyone has different interests.

Organisation, I'm incredibly organised, so I want my degree programme to be as well. No last minute changes, syllabi in advance, knowing the reqs, etc.

Being "famous" isn't that important to me.

Knowledgeable professors who give good feedback are. My first MA, I got a grade, that was it. My 10 page papers that I'd spent hours and hours on just got a number, no rubric, nothing. The second one had a rubric and feedback.

Acknowledging your prior learning, why do something when you already have? Credit for prior learning and experience is important. Cuts down on time and money to finish the degree. Has to be related though. Not saying that you should try to get out of everything.

Going beyond what's required. Deakin will send you books from their library. That's awesome.

Obviously being legit, accredited are important as well, No degree mills, but I'm hoping that most of us look for that as well.


I think that's it for now.
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