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MPH through Distance Education (Online)

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I never thought I would pursue distance education, but considering the high living costs and tuition (US schools), it seems like distance education offered in Canada by Lakehead, U Waterloo or U of Saskatchewan, University of Alberta might be real considerable choices.

Are any downsides of these distance education programs other than not interacting one on one with professors and classmates, etc? Are they actual shortfalls to these programs? Could anyone comment?

Much appreciated!

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I'm in education, not public health, and live in a place where distance education is the only option for an advanced degree. I've done a master's by distance for certification purposes and really didn't learn much. My experience was that the quality of courses varied tremendously by instructor, and there was no way to select alternate courses that might be more rigorous. While a lot of breadth could be accommodated, the online medium really made in-depth discourse rare. So my thoughts would be to do online if there's a specific course you know is good or if the degree is just a hoop you're jumping through for another goal, but to go in person if you want to develop advanced skills or knowledge.

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Hello,

I am currently in the MPH at Lakehead.

I just finished up my first term, and so far so good. I had completed a couple classes through distance learning in my undergrad so settling into that routine was rather seamless.

The MPH at LU has different streams (course or thesis), and you can specialize in different areas (I can't remember them all?). As well, you can do full-time (finish in 2 years), or flex-time which I believe you pay the full tuition to the schedule of a full-time student, but you have 6 years to finish the program.

In the Fall term I had Epidemiology, Public Health Foundations, and Research Methods/design/analysis.

All lectures are recorded and archived (great for reviewing during study sessions for exams). Must have a laptop/a good headset. Some people enabled their webcam for the class to see them. Kind of weird...

Epi was a very interesting course. 2 assignments, 2 exams. They are spaced out so you don't go crazy.

Pub Health Foundations was a joke. The professor did not lecture at all. There are MANY guest lecturers, with the rest of the time used for group presentations. These were interesting, Luckily, I had a good, organized group. I already hate group work enough, so I was so worried to learn that we would be doing this ONLINE and then presenting ONLINE. But I heard everyone did really well. 3 discussion postings (webCT), take home final exam, paper, group presentation.

Research methods was also a joke. It was supposed to be during a class time but the professor decided to just sit in front of his webcam and record his lectures before class started. That kind of set up was great .... many late night lecture viewings/all nighters. There are 3 assignments. The first two YOU NEED ACCESS TO SPSS. The professor gives you the info to purchase it for a student price (6 month subscription), or if you live near a library/school, you may LUCK out in paying to use their computers to complete those parts of the assignment.

You can complete your practicum anywhere. The office asks that you come to them 6-8 months BEFORE you expect to graduate. They take your suggestions, and they arrange it for you. If you take a specialization in something like kinesiology, then your practicum must reflect that. At the end of the practicum you have to complete an assignment based on your research/experience in your practicum placement. I heard that this assignment was 30 pages long, now it is 2 pages.

If you have any questions, feel free to message me.

LU does have another health program starting in Sept 2012. A thesis-based MSc in Health Sciences. I have not heard much about it though...

All in all, I would say I am on a scale of 1-10, about a 6... with rating my satisfaction with the program and experience at LU so far. LU definitely has a complex I feel, and in my experience they seem to put lots of effort in finding ways in how to be better than schools in southern Ontario and the rest of Canada. And with that, it makes me feel like my degree will be seen as less than a similar degree from another school because LU can't move away from trying to prove themselves.

Hope that helps.

:) best of luck

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I went off track there, and didn't address your other question about interaction!

The professor for the Pub Health Foundations class (who never lectured the class) was rather lazy.. it was a long wait to get feedback. ALL of the classes are on webCT and have forums for everyone to post questions on.

The research methods professor would collect posted questions/emailed questions and compile them and write answers in a weekly email to everyone (as well as answer them as they came in).

The Epi prof also was good at keeping up with questions.

I found that the majority of "help" and interaction came from the discussion posts on webCT from my classmates. The professors (especially Epi) monitored these to ensure that the help from our peers was good and that we were not going off track.

In Epi, I found my peers to be a great help. Before assignments and exams we would make up practice questions for each other and then answer them, and if there were problems, we would help each other.

I also found Skype to be helpful, especially in the case of research methods that didn't have a set time. I found a friend and we would watch the lecture together, and discuss it on skype.

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Hey reachystik, thanks for your posts. I've also applied to 3 distance programs so your input was really useful.

Cheers!

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I am just finishing up an online MPH program and I would say it's been a good experience. I think so much of graduate education is self-directed anyway that it is well-suited to the online format. I did have some professors who were a bit lazy, and I think they could get away with it because of the online format, but those were in the minority. Overall, I am looking back on the experience and feeling like I really learned a lot, got a lot out of it. For employment purposes I don't think the online is any weaker, except maybe in that you might miss some networking opportunities that you would have if you were on campus.

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Hello,

I am currently in the MPH at Lakehead.

I just finished up my first term, and so far so good. I had completed a couple classes through distance learning in my undergrad so settling into that routine was rather seamless.

The MPH at LU has different streams (course or thesis), and you can specialize in different areas (I can't remember them all?). As well, you can do full-time (finish in 2 years), or flex-time which I believe you pay the full tuition to the schedule of a full-time student, but you have 6 years to finish the program.

In the Fall term I had Epidemiology, Public Health Foundations, and Research Methods/design/analysis.

All lectures are recorded and archived (great for reviewing during study sessions for exams). Must have a laptop/a good headset. Some people enabled their webcam for the class to see them. Kind of weird...

Epi was a very interesting course. 2 assignments, 2 exams. They are spaced out so you don't go crazy.

Pub Health Foundations was a joke. The professor did not lecture at all. There are MANY guest lecturers, with the rest of the time used for group presentations. These were interesting, Luckily, I had a good, organized group. I already hate group work enough, so I was so worried to learn that we would be doing this ONLINE and then presenting ONLINE. But I heard everyone did really well. 3 discussion postings (webCT), take home final exam, paper, group presentation.

Research methods was also a joke. It was supposed to be during a class time but the professor decided to just sit in front of his webcam and record his lectures before class started. That kind of set up was great .... many late night lecture viewings/all nighters. There are 3 assignments. The first two YOU NEED ACCESS TO SPSS. The professor gives you the info to purchase it for a student price (6 month subscription), or if you live near a library/school, you may LUCK out in paying to use their computers to complete those parts of the assignment.

You can complete your practicum anywhere. The office asks that you come to them 6-8 months BEFORE you expect to graduate. They take your suggestions, and they arrange it for you. If you take a specialization in something like kinesiology, then your practicum must reflect that. At the end of the practicum you have to complete an assignment based on your research/experience in your practicum placement. I heard that this assignment was 30 pages long, now it is 2 pages.

If you have any questions, feel free to message me.

LU does have another health program starting in Sept 2012. A thesis-based MSc in Health Sciences. I have not heard much about it though...

All in all, I would say I am on a scale of 1-10, about a 6... with rating my satisfaction with the program and experience at LU so far. LU definitely has a complex I feel, and in my experience they seem to put lots of effort in finding ways in how to be better than schools in southern Ontario and the rest of Canada. And with that, it makes me feel like my degree will be seen as less than a similar degree from another school because LU can't move away from trying to prove themselves.

Hope that helps.

:) best of luck

 

Hi reachystik,

I am glad I found your post on Lakehead's MPH program!  I am considering accepting my offer from Lakehead but I have a couple of concerns about the program.  Since I will be juggling between school (flex-time online) and a somewhat demanding full-time job, I am worried about the workload being too intense (i.e. lots of textbook reading, assignments).  Do you find your workload to be too much?  Also, do you feel that you are getting a lot of support from your profs now that you've been in the program for a few years?

 

Thanks a lot!  :)

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Personally, I wouldn't want to do distance learning. A big part of why I want to go to grad school is because I want to gain the network, live in a new area, talk to professors on a personal level, participate and become an active part of campus, and to gain more friends in the process. Online just don't have any of that, and if it does, in very small quantities.

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Personally, I wouldn't want to do distance learning. A big part of why I want to go to grad school is because I want to gain the network, live in a new area, talk to professors on a personal level, participate and become an active part of campus, and to gain more friends in the process. Online just don't have any of that, and if it does, in very small quantities.

 

Well, my reason for doing a distance program is because I have a very good job with great network that I am unwilling to give up.  However, in order for me to advance in this job, I feel that I need an MPH to strengthen my knowledge in the field.  I am normally not a fan of distance learning either but with the current economy not looking so great, I think it is wiser for me to keep a promising career that I enjoy than to risk being unemployed after I graduate.  

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