In addition to our conventional on-campus program, an online program is available for both thesis and non-thesis options. The Space Studies Master's program has been offered via Internet-based distance learning techniques since 1996. This has benefited aerospace professionals who cannot come to the UND campus for the conventional two-year on-campus program due to existing employment and/or family commitments. The online program is identical to the on-campus program and offers the same level of opportunities for discussion, advisement, and research. As the campus and online programs are basically one, it allows the students to switch seamlessly between on-campus and online, should they desire. This means one can start as an online student and move to campus midway through the program, and vice versa. As a result, it is not indicated in the final transcript whether a student earned the credits via online or on-campus courses.
On-campus class lectures are professionally recorded and provided to enrolled students in the online classroom. Recorded lectures offer a great deal of flexibility to the online student, allowing the individual to tailor instruction time to fit his or her schedule. A student can assimilate the information at his or her own pace, as long as he or she keeps up with the material covered in the scheduled interactive weekly chat sessions.
Online class chat sessions are conducted by the space studies faculty in order to provide regularly-scheduled, real-time interactions between students and instructors during times when most online students are available (i.e. in the evenings, after normal working hours). Such orchestrated student-student and student-instructor interactions are otherwise unavailable to our online students. These chat sessions are a critical component of these online courses since they are carefully crafted by space studies faculty to enhance the online learning experience. In order to succeed in online classes, chat session participation by online, and sometimes on-campus students, is a required component of space studies courses. As with all space studies courses, requirements for attendance are in accordance with UND policy.
Each online student who selects the non-thesis option is required to participate in a team-oriented capstone project. A major component of the capstone course is a required week-long conference at the UND campus in Grand Forks. Students must register for SPST 595: Capstone during the spring semester of the calendar year that graduation is planned. The capstone week on campus will allow students to meet their professors and fellow students face-to-face, possibly for the first time. The philosophy behind the capstone course is to bring all students together for five days of team preparations, project presentations, seminars, and graduation ceremonies on the UND campus, as part of an integrative problem-solving course.
Online Course Material
Each space studies course has an online classroom where the course syllabus, recorded class lectures, assignments, Internet chat room links, and other important course material will be located. These online classrooms are powered by the eZ Learning Management System (eZ! for short). Students will need to use their UND credentials to access these restricted areas.
Regularly-scheduled weekly Internet chat sessions are a degree requirement. Students must have reliable, consistent Internet access.
Textbook information is provided so that students may purchase their textbooks from the UND Bookstore or an online bookseller of their choice.
A fall orientation conference is available to all students on the UND campus as an orientation to begin the space studies program.
Is the online program aimed at allowing you to work full-time and do the course part-time?
Yes, we expect a majority of our students will be working full-time and studying part-time. The required chat sessions are scheduled during weekday evening hours for convenience.
How much time per week should I expect to spend on online program coursework?
It is difficult to predict how much time a student will spend on a particular class. It depends on individual skills and study habits. A typical three-credit class would involve about three hours of lecture time per week, an hour-long chat session, plus reading time. Add to this homework, papers, and test preparation. A reasonable estimate is that you should expect to spend 3 to 5 hours per week, per credit hour in a graduate course.
The short answer is that it depends on the student. Some may be comfortable taking two classes each semester as well as doing independent study, while others may feel one class per semester is all that their busy schedules and personal lives will allow.
I live outside of the United States; will there be a contact available for academic advisement and general questions?
All questions can be handled by our faculty and staff here. We are only as far away as your computer or phone. Academic advice will be handled by the professor teaching the course or your academic advisor. Contact the Space Studies Department for general assistance.
How do I access the online classrooms?
Each space studies course has a website where you will find the course syllabus, assignments, collaboration and chat tools, and other important course material. Course websites are powered by the eZ! Learning Management System. Course websites are password-protected and accessible only by authorized students. You must be enrolled in the course to gain access to the course website.
Generally, course website access will be available one week prior to the date of instruction for that course. Go to eZ! to create an account, which will enable you to request access to the classroom. Once access is granted, your classrooms will appear in your eZ! control center for easy access.
How do I order my textbooks?
Online students may purchase textbooks from the online bookseller of their choice using the textbook requirements posted in the eZ! LMS course website. Textbooks are also available at the UND Bookstore.
Will I need to purchase additional software for my online classes?
In most cases, additional software will not be required. A couple of courses may have an additional course fee that will cover the software required. This will be noted in the course description.
Will I ever have to visit the physical campus?
Yes, a campus visit will be required of all online students. Non-thesis-track students will be on campus during the Capstone conference as part of the SPST 595: Capstone course. This is generally during the last year of your program. Thesis-track students will visit the campus as required by your thesis committee. Typically a one-week visit for both your thesis proposal presentation and your thesis defense is required.
Establishing face-to-face contact, though not required, is recommended early in the program. The fall orientation program is an opportunity to visit campus. It is also common for our online students to visit campus at other times at their own convenience.
Do I need to be online at a specific day or time?
Yes, most courses have a required one-hour weekly chat session via the Internet. These times are posted in the course description and are available prior to registration. The scheduled times are also posted in the online classroom once you begin the semester. Chat sessions are scheduled during weekday evening hours.
You may access your online classroom 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your instructors will set the deadlines for assignments and exams to be completed, just like they would for on-campus courses.
How are the online chat sessions offered, and what are they like?
Online class chat sessions are conducted by the space studies faculty in order to provide regularly scheduled, real-time interactions between students and instructors during times when most online students are available (i.e. in the evenings, after normal working hours). Such orchestrated student-student and student-instructor interactions are otherwise unavailable to our online students. These chat sessions are a critical component of these distance courses since they are carefully crafted by space studies faculty to enhance the online learning experience. In order to succeed in distance classes, chat session participation by online, and sometimes on-campus students, is a required component of space studies courses. As with all space studies courses, requirements for attendance are in accordance with UND policy. Chat sessions are held via eZ! Chat or Adobe Connect, through your course website. All students log in to the chat session simultaneously and interact with each other by typing in text. The moderator, usually the instructor, controls the pace and the content of the session.
How are exams given?
Written examinations will be given via your online classroom. These online exams will be similar to paper exams and consist of timed multiple choice, true/false, short answer, or essay questions, depending on the instructor.
I live in a different time zone from North Dakota; will chat sessions and course activities be feasible for me?
We try to make the chat sessions convenient to all students. Typically, chat sessions are held between 6 and 9pm Central Time to cater to students residing in both U.S. East and West Coast time zones. However, no matter how hard we try, some will probably find the time less than ideal. For example, someone may have to stay up late to participate. Students residing overseas may find it more inconvenient. Most students find that successful completion of a graduate program does involve some sacrifice. In general, students find the conveniences of online education outweigh the inconveniences.
How long does it take to complete the online program?
You can complete the required 33 credits in about two years if you take at least 5 three-credit courses per year. The typical online student completes the degree in 3-4 years, as work and family commitments may not allow more than one course per semester.
May I obtain a UND student ID as an online student?
Yes, online students may obtain a student ID card, called the "U Card." Your ID card provides access to many campus buildings, library resource materials, printing funds, as well as entrance to the wellness center, dining services, and all athletic events. In addition, the U Card can be used as a debit card for purchases made on campus.