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.