How online courses are changing post-graduate schooling

During the late 1990s, and early 2000s, the education marketplace saw a huge uptick in online schools for trades, Bachelors, and Masters degrees. It was easy to see why these opportunities grew so popular. Mostly offered by for profit online universities, the programs were profit driven. That means they were streamlined, easy to use, and foOnline Educationcused on customer satisfaction.

They were also convenient. Busy executives, or aspiring business professionals could get their MBAs on their own schedule in their own time frame; evenings, and weekends after work, mainly. This convenience may not have offered much of a “college” experience, but it sure gave the customers what they were looking for – career advancement potential.

But beyond the MBA, postgraduate work was largely conducted on campuses with designated academic advisors working with the student every step of the way. This face-to-face, one-on-one interaction was largely considered vital to the success of doctoral students.

But, once again, the Internet evolved, and online education found a way. While it is true that many online programs are now offering most classes remotely, students or candidates are still required to complete lab work, certain research, internships, residencies, and clinical work on a campus, or at a third party location.

And that’s where the message gets muddled. Is it online, or isn’t it? Can something truly be distance learning when part of it isn’t?

Ronn Torossian, founder of 5W Public Relations, says the answer to this question is largely in the way the message is conveyed, and the marketing is packaged.

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“Online programs are largely about convenience, and accessibility. If a student can complete 30 hours of a doctoral program remotely, this is a huge benefit for the program from a PR standpoint,” Torossian said.

Torossian agrees with the marketers of these programs that, due to the expectation of some “on the job” coursework, the program descriptions, and marketing is not necessarily misleading, or setting students up for disappointment.

“People realize they can’t get a medical degree without lab experience, or a strictly regimented and watched internship. Even education, and management students at the doctoral level should inherently understand the need for practical application of study materials.”

This dynamic, Torossian says, protects online schools from being accused of bait, and switch tactics. Yes, they are offering online doctorate programs, and those programs will fully prepare you for any OJT, or dissertation work necessary to actually complete the degree program.

A fine line? Perhaps, but online doctoral program marketers are betting it’s an obvious one.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.