Although all coursework is delivered online, there are three short on-site retreats that are required for successful completion of the program. All students must attend the 2 1/2-day orientation retreat (in-residence workshop) prior to beginning the program. This retreat is held in mid-August, before the beginning of fall semester classes. Students meet their classmates, course instructors, advisor and support staff from the library and technological services and are given a thorough orientation to the program. In addition, they meet returning students and attend workshops.
There are two additional 1 1/2 day retreats that are part of the program. The retreat between the first and second year of study is designed to prepare students for the second year courses and the research component of the program. At the final retreat following the second year of study students present their master's projects at the poster session and participate in the graduation ceremony. Students can petition to miss the second or third retreats for reasons of significant hardship, and can work with the advisor to design alternative assignments to replace these experiences. The first two retreats are held in mid August. The final poster session and graduation is held at the end of May. Students are given the specific dates well in advance in order to facilitate travel planning.
Research about online education has validated the importance of a face-to-face component in online programs and the retreats are a highlight of the program for both students and faculty members. Our students have consistently reported they appreciate opportunities for in-person workshops, discussion, advising, socialization and relaxation.
2014 Retreat Dates: