Are admissions requirements for distance education students the same as for those students applying to on-campus programs?

The basic requirements are the same for all students whether on-campus or off. All applicants must submit the appropriate supporting application materials as listed below. All supporting materials should be uploaded directly into the online application or included with the Curriculum Change request form if the applicant is transferring departments or programs.      

Personal Statement- A statement in which you provide evidence of how your professional experiences and prior academic work have focused your thinking toward the planned program of study.  A minimum 500 words is required for the personal statement.  

Resume/Curriculum Vitae- This is required of all applicants.  For students applying to the Special Education doctoral program, a minimum of two years paid full-time professional experience related to special education or the field of disability is required for consideration for the program.

3 Letters of Reference - From persons who have direct knowledge of your academic and/or professional performance and potential for graduate study.

Transcripts- At the time of application you are only required to upload unofficial copies of your transcripts into the application.  The unofficial copy can be a screenshot or scanned copy but should not be a photo of the transcript.  Applicants must have earned at least a degree from an accredited college in the United States or a comparable degree from a recognized institution of higher learning abroad. A grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (A=4.0), or comparable GPA for an international applicant, for last two years of undergraduate study is a minimum requirement for admission.

Scholarly Writing Sample: required for applicants to doctoral programs in Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Psychology and Special Education; strongly recommended for doctoral applicants in Educational Policy, Organization and Leadership.  The writing sample can be a masters thesis, research paper, or any other sample that demonstrates the applicant's ability to analyze and synthesize data.

Required Materials for all International Applicants:

Programs Requiring Specific Criteria:

Are online and on-campus students ever in the same course?
Online courses are primarily designed for online students, but the College does reserve limited spots for on-campus students to attend online courses
Are the credits that I earned in my online course the same as the credits earned in an on-campus course?
Yes. Credits earned in any format (online, on-campus, off-campus) are all equal and interchangeable. 
Are the online/ off-campus programs accredited?

The University of Illinois is a fully accredited university; therefore all programs are fully accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Are there any proctored exams as part of the online programs?
No. Coursework is largely project-based, requiring significant interaction between student and faculty. 
Are there cost savings to getting an online degree?

Yes, most people do not stop to factor in the cost savings. Online students can study from the comfort of their own homes. They do not need to pay for gas or parking. Often they can save childcare costs as well. Many of the readings needed for online classes are posted on the course management site, thus do not need to purchase a textbook. In addition, the online format creates an environment where many students can obtain a prestigious higher education degree while still continuing to work. It is an excellent solution for working professionals.

Can I complete my degree 100% online as an international student?

That depends. If you are enrolled in one of our fully online programs, then all of your courses will be completed fully online from anywhere in the world. Please see below for information regarding international applications.

Required Materials for all International Applicants:

Can I get an extension on my course?

Extensions for student coursework are determined by individual instructors.

Do any of the online/ off-campus programs lead to a teaching certificate?

No. The only way to receive teacher certification in some graduate programs is by attending some or all classes on campus.

Do I have to attend synchronous sessions? Are there asynchronous sessions, too?

Synchronous sessions are mandatory and a big part of all online courses. Just as if you had to attend a face-to-face class with a professor on campus, the same holds true for online courses. If you cannot attend a session—you will need to speak with the course instructor. All courses are archived for viewing at a later time as needed.

All online courses also have asynchronous sessions for forum posting and group projects. Refer to the course syllabus for more information.

Do I have to take the GRE?

The GRE is not required for applying to the College of Education master’s or non-degree programs--You can leave that that section blank in the online application. It is required for doctoral students in Curriculum & Instruction and Educational Psychology. It is highly recommended for doctoral students in Education Policy, Organization & Leadership and Special Education.

Do non-degree courses count towards a master's degree with the College?

Graduate students may request a transfer of credit from one graduate degree or non-degree program at this University to another graduate program at this University as long as:

  • it was not applied toward another degree
  • 12 credits or less are being requested for transfer
  • it would not be more than the time allowed to complete the degree at the time of degree conferral (within 5 years for a master’s degree & 7-9 years for a doctorate depending on program)
The Graduate College requires that department(s) involved approve the transfer of work from one program to the other.  To request a transfer of credit from one program (degree or non-degree) to another within the Graduate College, a student should submit a “Curriculum Change/Transfer of Credit” form clearly specifying the above requirements have been met. Please use this PDF form and submit your request to Jena Pfoff at jrooseve@illinois.edu. If you have an active NETID you may also submit your request online through the “Graduate Student Request Form.”
  • Complete your student information including: UIN, Name, Address, Department Information, Degree in Progress  & Expected Graduation Term.
  • Check that you are requesting a “Curriculum Change” and a “Transfer of Credit.”
  • Please note that you can only request a "transfer of credit" after you have completed 8 credit hours as a degree-seeking student.
  • Provide details of your request. For example, you may have completed one of our Online Certificate programs and are now interested in completing an Online Degree program. State that the course(s) have not been applied to another degree, are 12 credit hours or less, and were completed within the allowable time of transfer.
  • Contact Jena Pfoff at jrooseve@illinois.edu if you have any questions.
Do online courses require extra work?

Online courses require student to engage in a course in a different way than on campus courses, balancing the convenience of online access with some patience for occasional technical glitches, but also new possibilities for project-based learning and small group discussions.  Online learning also puts you in contact with professors and students around the country and even the globe, enables you to make connections with people working in varied environments and time zones, and helps, too, to build new networks of support and learning.

Do the same faculty teach both distance and face-to-face courses, and is there any difference in the course content?
Our online and off-campus programs are of the highest quality because they are taught by the same renowned faculty that teach at the Champaign-Urbana campus. You get the same content and experience in our distance courses as you would if you were right here on-campus.
Do you accept other courses at the University, or from other institutions for credit transfer?

This decision will be made at the discretion of the Graduate College. It should be kept in mind that the program is set up with specific requirements in a set order. Also, courses are not equivalent from one institution to another in terms of content, hours and other factors. You will need to provide the course description, official transcript showing the course and file a petition. The petition has to be approved by the faculty coordinator and then by the Graduate College. 

Do we ever meet in person for online courses?

There may be opportunities for online students and faculty to meet in person, but it is not required. Online students are certainly encouraged to travel to campus for Graduation! Off-campus students will meet in person.

How are online courses graded?

Online courses are graded just like on campus classroom courses. High-level critical thinking is required, and students leave the course with an understanding of the subject and an ability to apply their knowledge in a real-world setting. Standard assignments include reading the course text and additional materials, active participation in online discussions, writing papers, and/or organizing projects, etc.

How do I find information regarding tuition?

For more information regarding tuition please refer to the Registrar's Office.

How do I know if an online degree program is for me?

Online classes are often different from traditional face-to-face classes in terms of how the material is presented, the nature of the interaction among class members, and the overall learning experience. Many students report they learn more in online classes than in face-to-face classes and find the experience rewarding. But online classes aren't right for everyone. Even if you are an excellent student, you may find that online classes are not compatible with your learning style. So, before enrolling in your first online class, give some thought to whether online learning is right for you.

How do I register for a course?

Use the following registration links:

How do I verify my enrollment for employment or loan purposes?

Students should consult their lenders (school, bank, or loan agency). Students may also contact the Office of Student Financial Aid, or finaid@illinois.edu, for advice or referral to the appropriate office or agency. Students may also contact the Registrar's Office. Please note that verification of enrollment should be available approximately 5 business days after the 10th day of the semester.

How do students choose courses and the delivery method for the courses they are expected to take?

All students will work with their adviser to create a plan of study. Based on the individual plan of study, students will choose an appropriate delivery method from available options at the time of registration. To find available courses. students should use the College Course Finder to filter courses by:

  • Type of Student
  • Format
  • Subject
  • Term
How much time should I expect to spend on one course every week?

The time you spend on a class can vary. No two instructors will format their classes exactly the same. But plan to set aside time to read, reflect, and write--and be ready to be an active participant in discussions.

How will I be evaluated?

You will be evaluated based on course requirements set by individual course instructors.

Also, in accordance with Graduate College policy requiring that a graduate student be making satisfactory academic progress to hold an assistantship, the College of Education conducts an annual review of graduate students enrolled in degree-seeking programs. Additionally, an annual review helps the student progress through the graduate program by allowing timely identification of deficiencies, clarification of expectations for academic performance, and identification of opportunities for improvement.  For additional information, see "Why Conduct Regular Reviews of Graduate Student Progress?" 

Is a Master's Thesis mandatory for a Masters of Education degree?

No. A Master’s Thesis is not required for a Master of Education degree. 

Is the entirety of the online program requirement 100 percent online accessible?
Materials including orientations, group projects and exams for fully online programs will be accessed entirely online.
Is the tuition the same for in-state vs out-of-state students?

Yes, it is. See Tuition & Financial Aid information.

Is there ever any collaboration of work between distance education students and on-campus students?
Yes. The experience you receive in our online and off-campus courses mirrors the experience you receive as an on-campus student. In courses where there are a mix of students from online to on-campus, collaboration is often encouraged and may be mandatory depending on the nature of the project.
What are some challenges when taking online courses?

One of the keys is to have a great deal of self-discipline. You have to be motivated to get the work done on your own. If you have a family and/or a job while you are taking online courses it is important that you establish a schedule of when and how you will get your work done. You need to imagine that you are actually on campus taking classes. It is just the environment that is different—not the content, the instructors, or the assignments. If you don’t understand an assignment it is important to ask questions for clarification so you don’t fall behind. Instructors, including professors and teaching assistants, are available to students via email, discussion boards and phone and committed to seeing that you are able to do your best.

What are the assignments like for online courses?

Assignments are critical in nature. There is no difference between our expectations for on-campus assignments and online assignments: this is a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign degree.  Courses combine reading, short papers, longer assignments, reviewing other materials, like videos, and participating in live weekly discussions.

What are the basic technology requirements and vehicles of instruction are there for online courses?
Students may complete their online courses using a PC or Mac over a broadband connection. Students may also access online course materials using software-based readers and smartphones. Courses are delivered through Blackboard Collaborate on iOS & Android. The courses involve live streaming of video and audio. All courses are recorded for video and audio playback.  Bulletin boards are used to keep students on track for successful completion.
What are the participation and attendance requirements for online courses?

Participation in collaborative group projects is required in all courses and is factored into final grades.

Student must login within the first 48 hours of a course start and at least once every 72 hours to maintain "active" status. Furthermore, students must log in on at least 4 of the 7 days per week. 

 Students are expected to attend both the live lecture (synchronous session) and the forum (asynchronous) sessions. Instructors track participation and respond to students twice a week during both types of sessions.

What benefits do I receive while enrolled at the University of Illinois?

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a wide array of resources to compliment and support your academic and professional goals. We believe in providing our students with the tools for success. Some of the many resources that you will find through the Graduate College are: Professional Development, Language, Writing, Computing, and Research Support & Study Abroad.

As an online student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, you will benefit from the above resources and more. Did you know that the University of Illinois has one of the finest libraries in the United States? The Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL)provides helpful online services for educators and access to multiple online text publications and articles. As graduate students you are encouraged to ask librarians for any assistance you require.

What is a typical schedule for an online class?

The syllabus outlines the requirements for the course. Students typically have a couple forum posts due each week where they post a response to a question or assignment and then later respond to other students’ posts. But do check each syllabus for a detailed explanation of course assignments.

What is considered full-time vs part-time status in online programs?

Graduate students may be required to maintain “full-time enrollment,” and what constitutes full-time enrollment can vary. For example, departmental requirements, eligibility for student loans or other financial aid, fellowships, certain types of non-University insurance policies, or tax requirements may use different definitions of full-time enrollment. Students are responsible for understanding what requirements apply to them and should refer to the Graduate Student Handbook. Most of our online students take 2 courses each term and complete their degree program in 18 months to 2 years.

What kind of online support will be available?

A variety of support will be available for all students. First, students will have access to regular, ongoing technical support to assist in the nuts and bolts of using the online course features. Second, each student will be in regular communication with course professors, teaching assistants, and coordinators. Faculty will generally respond to emails and voicemails withing 24 hours.

What services does the Graduate College offer?

The Graduate College offers advising walk-in hours and online resources in several areas to assist you with your academic and professional development needs.

What sort of support is available to Veterans & Active Duty Personnel?

Veteran Student Support Services (VSSS), a unit within the Office of the Dean of Students, recognizes the selfless service and sacrifices made by members of our armed forces and the unique challenges associated with transitioning into a university setting. To support this transition, we are committed to providing Veterans, active duty personnel, National Guard and Reserve members and qualified dependents with the services necessary to pursue their academic and personal interests, explore different learning experiences, and integrate into the campus community.

What time of day are online courses offered?
Most online courses are offered after 5 p.m. CST in order to accommodate full-time working students.
Will I need textbooks? And, how do I get them?

You may or may not need textbooks for a particular course. Your course instructor will let you know prior to the start of the course. If you need books, you may find them at your local library, but will likely need to purchase them from online distributors such as Amazon or the Illini Union Bookstore.