The Keck School of Medicine, Ostrow School of Dentistry and Rossier School of Education have each announced new online degree programs for graduate students.
Keck will offer a master of public health degree, Ostrow will offer an online master of science in geriatric dentistry degree and Rossier will offer a master of education in school leadership degree.
The programs at the Keck and Rossier schools will be open to students next semester, while Ostrow will begin its new program next fall.
While USC is no stranger to online education, the revolutionary aspect of these programs is its intended target audience.
“The program is designed for working professionals,” said Alex Duke, assistant dean of enrollment management and student services at the Rossier School of Education.
By offering working professionals the opportunity to continue their education, Rossier sets them up to become strong and active in their field, according to Duke.
Roseann Mulligan, program director and chair of the division of dental public health and pediatric dentistry at Ostrow, said the school also intends to gear the geriatric dentistry program toward professionals.
“It will focus on the most common medical and oral health conditions seen in older adults,” Mulligan said.
Despite the fact that the programs are online education only, they will still allow students to connect with their classmates by creating a network of professional students across the country.
“Having classmates that you interact with and learn from is just part of the experience,” Duke said. “It creates the ability for our students to have a national community of practice.”
Kelly Goulis, senior associate dean of graduate and professional programs at the Viterbi School of Engineering, pointed out that these programs also have practical implications for students.
“It’s a matter of just expanding our reach to get to students who are not able to get here full time on campus,” Goulis said.
Despite the three new programs for graduate students, the university does not have plans to create online opportunities for undergraduates. Goulis said this is because of the nature of the college experience.
“When you’re an undergraduate living on campus, being here and interacting with other students, it provides you with … things that are important as you’re growing and developing into the next stage of your academic career,” Goulis said.
Regardless of the success of the three programs, Duke said the experience will be valuable.
“You learn something in the creation of every program,” Duke said.
And these opportunities, successful or not, could be the first of many programs that allow working professionals to continue receiving an education while climbing the corporate ladder.