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.

“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, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.