Since 1993, the iSchool at Syracuse University has been offering high-quality graduate-level online learning opportunities to students around the world. Each year, students representing a broad range of professional, cultural, and academic experiences, ages, and geographic locations join iSchool distance education programs. With limited residencies and asynchronous course delivery, students can learn virtually anytime, anywhere, earning a Syracuse University degree with flexible study schedules and no need to relocate.
The iSchool is dedicated to ensuring equality in campus and online learning programs. Graduates emerge prepared to excel in the information profession of their choice.
iSchool's Unique Approach
iSchool online students earn the same degree as campus students. Their only differentiation is the mode of learning.
iSchool online classes are taught by the same faculty as campus classes.
iSchool faculty are formally trained in online pedagogy.
iSchool courses are taught by iSchool faculty. We utilize technology in all of our teachings, but technology does not “teach” the courses or provide sole access to course material. iSchool online students interact directly with iSchool faculty.
The iSchool at Syracuse University is a member of the WISE program (Web-based Information Science Consortium), which enables our distance students to take advantage of course offerings at any of the other WISE schools.
iSchool online students have the same access to iSchool Student Services and iSchool Career Services as our campus students. In addition, being a part of the iSchool's online program means online students are a part of the extensive iSchool network of alumni and friends, which is invaluable to students and alumni throughout their professional development.
iSchool's History in Online and Distance Education
The iSchool's distance education program began in 1993, with our Library and Information Science program. In the beginning, instruction was done through the postal service and email. As technology developed, so did our distance education program.
By 2000 all of the iSchool’s graduate degrees and certificates were available through distance education. Students took classes online, asynchronously, with a 2–7 day residency each semester. Residencies were tied to specific courses, and faculty chose how much residency they needed, depending on the content of their course.
In 2001, extensive focus groups were held and research was conducted to help determine how the program should be improved going forward. As a result of this collaborative effort and of our increased resources in instructional design and online pedagogy, the iSchool chose to institute an online faculty training program, where faculty would be encouraged to learn how to effectively teach online.
By 2005 the program was structured with students starting with a one-week summer residency, where they completed an introductory course, met fellow students, faculty, and staff, and then completed the remainder of the degree online. This enabled students to have access to a flexible online program, but still make and maintain and strong connection with iSchool faculty, students, and staff, and with the University. Students could choose to supplement their face-to-face experience through optional Summer Institute classes.
The iSchool distance education program successfully went through New York State Department of Education Institutional Review in 2004.
Online Degree Programs
All master's and certificates of advanced study (CAS) programs offered by the iSchool can be completed on campus, in the online/distance learning format, or in a blended format. Each distance program has the same curriculum, faculty, academic calendar, and tuition as their respective campus program.
Online courses have the same academic rigor as on-campus courses, and every effort is made to ensure that the academic experience is of equally excellent quality for both distance and campus students. The only difference is the delivery mode.
Graduates of the iSchool's distance programs receive the same degree as their campus counterparts. Degrees are accredited by Middle States and the American Library Association (ALA)* regardless of the format used to complete the coursework.
For Online Learning Students
The online format allows students with life commitments such as full-time jobs, family responsibilities, or intensive travel schedules to earn a graduate-level degree or certificate from Syracuse University with the flexibility of anytime/anywhere learning.
Students in the online learning programs come from across the United States and from several countries. They range in age from their 20s through their 60s. Many are already working in the information field, and some are looking for a career change. The rich backgrounds of the students make each incoming class a dynamic group.
The iSchool's limited required residency format offers a unique opportunity for those who live outside the Syracuse area or who have schedules that don't allow them to attend campus-based courses. All online master's students enrolled in a non-executive program begin their first year of study with a week-long residency on the Syracuse University campus in July. Although optional elective courses may have additional residency requirements, MS students may choose to complete all remaining degree requirements online.
During the residency, MS students will:
- complete the first four credits of their program
- become familiar with the iSchool Learning Management System (LMS), the courseware tool used for most online courses at the School of Information Studies
- get to know School of Information Studies faculty and staff
- meet other distance and campus-based students
- attend an advising session