If you are debating about going back to school online, it is important to understand what to expect. Online learning is here to stay and will likely become part of the normal educational progression for the tech-savvy students of tomorrow. For professionals with financial and family obligations, online or distance education is often the only option. However, if you have not taken an online class (or don’t love spending your days and nights on the computer) it can be daunting.
Reputation, Quality, and Rigor
Some questions remain by “old school” employers about the quality of this type of learning and whether it is truly reputable. No one wants to invest good money in a degree mill or correspondence course. It is important to remember that as distance education has become more wide-spread and accepted in the corporate world, the quality of instructional technology and the ability to interact with faculty and peers have also become more advanced.
In the online Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.) programs offered at Stetson University College of Law students write papers, conduct presentations, engage in weekly forum discussions, and engage in debate. They read books, articles and journals, watch videos and take exams. The same faculty who teach courses live to J.D., LL.M. and M.J. students, teach the courses online. When done right, online education can be very rigorous. You cannot get by with a cursory review of a chapter and show up for a lecture as a passive learner.
According to a 2018 market research study by Learning House and Aslanian Market Research, 85% of online learners who also took courses on campus considered the online learning “as good as or better than attending courses on campus.”
It is imperative that when looking at online options, you research the institution’s reputation to be sure it is a fully-accredited school, provides library resources and career services to online students, and engages full-time faculty in teaching online courses.
That is great information, but is online learning for me?
Google the pros and cons of online education and you will discover dozens of articles that talk about everything from flexibility (pro) to lack of immediate feedback (con). If you are considering a master’s degree online, especially a Master of Jurisprudence online, you need to understand how you learn and honestly evaluate your ability to commit the time necessary to invest in an M.J. program.
At Stetson Law, there are two online Master of Jurisprudence programs. One is in Aging, Law and Policy and the other is Healthcare Compliance. Based on what we have gathered from students and faculty, we assembled a few of our own pros and cons to help you decide if you should get a Master of Jurisprudence online?
The Pros as we see them.
Stetson Law is fully accredited by the American Bar Association and has an incredible reputation in Florida and beyond. In fact, it is the oldest law school in Florida. The faculty who teach the M.J. programs – both live and online – are the same experienced faculty who teach in the J.D. and LL.M. programs. A cohort of seasoned practitioners supports the full-time faculty and teach niche courses like Long Term Care Planning or Compliance.
Flexibility and convenience are clearly the top pros because you rarely have to log in on any particular day or time. We would add the following:
- no commute time;
- ability to earn an income while going to school (some employers offer tuition remission);
- freedom to take classes from the comfort of your home (in your pjs); and
- the benefit of interacting with peers from all over the country.
What other format allows you all of this PLUS a rigorous, high-quality education?
The cons as we see them.
Is doing your laundry more appealing than logging on to your computer to do schoolwork after a long day at work? If yes, this type of schooling may not work for you. You cannot procrastinate or work will pile up. Each week you have assignments to complete and it often takes many hours. Online learning takes discipline and dedication.
If you like to talk through cases or problems face-to-face with professors or engage in campus life and activities, it will be hard to love online learning. Person-to-person contact is limited to online forums, emails, and conference/telephone calls. However, if you take the time to reach out to faculty and peers, they will likely enjoy engaging with you. In fact, in the M.J. in Aging, Law and Policy, students can get together with faculty at Stetson’s annual Special Needs Trust Conference.
We recommend jotting down your own pro and con list. It may benefit you to talk with a member of the faculty at Stetson Law. You may even wish to talk with a student who is in the M.J. program to get a sense of how they balance work, family, and school.
Investing in yourself and your professional future is well worth the time. An online Master of Jurisprudence may help you advance in your career and help you achieve your professional goals without leaving your job!