Distance Learning FAQs
Q: What is Distance Learning?
A: Distance learning is education that takes place when the professor and student are in physically different locations. UGST Distance Learning is facilitated by FinalSite™ which creates a web classroom where students interact with each other and the professor through threaded discussion boards, live classes, uploaded lectures and other venues. Frequently, the technical requirements of distance learning heighten the amount of reflection and thought in these interactions. Each course includes a substantial amount of reading, writing assignments, projects, and other learning activities. Distance learning is designed to give you the flexibility of transforming your home, office, church, hotel room, or local coffee shop into a thriving academic environment. Whether you want to have class first thing in the morning or late in the evening, distance learning courses let the student determine the best time to meet.
Q: Who enrolls in Distance Learning?
A: There are generally two groups who will be interested in UGST Distance Learning:
those seeking a graduate degree in apostolic theology who are unable to relocate to the St. Louis area and those interested in personal growth while not necessarily seeking a formal degree.
Q: Is Distance Learning for me?
A: If you can answer “yes” to the following, UGST Distance Learning may be what you are looking for:
I am a self-motivated and independent learner.
I have a strong interest and desire to learn the subject matter.
I have daily access to a computer with an Internet connection (high speed preferred, but not required).
I am comfortable using a web browser, e-mail (with attachments), and Microsoft Word.
I am comfortable expressing myself in writing and sustaining an on-going written dialogue with others.
I possess the self-discipline and time management skills necessary to balance my academic, personal, professional and church life.
I easily understand and can follow written instructions.
I will be able to commit to one week on campus approximately once a semester.
Q: How does Distance Learning work?
A: Distance learning classes are divided into 4 categories at UGST: on-line, blended, web conferencing, and short term courses. Over their course of study at UGST, students should expect to experience all of these classes.
On-line courses are conducted by a professor entirely via the internet. Professors may provide DVDs of lectures for students, incorporate periodic web conferencing, or rely more heavily on threaded discussions. Students are not required to be on-line at a particular time of day (unless web conferencing is required), but time should be scheduled each day so that you can stay up to date in interactions with other students, assignments, and other class activities. While deadlines are typically more flexible and student-driven in these courses, professors often choose to set more rigid due dates.
Blended courses are completed concurrent with the on campus class. Lectures are recorded live and uploaded the following day for students to watch. Students will be part of the on campus class working toward the same deadlines for projects and/or assignments. As such, students will need to stay current in viewing lectures and will have weekly requirements via the threaded discussion boards as well as other presentations. Students will need to be self-disciplined as falling even a little behind in these classes can quickly become overwhelming.
Web conferencing is a “live” class experience when all students log-in at a certain specified time. Students are able to interact with the professor and each other in real time. This format is used to facilitate dialectic interaction as well as allow for students in remote areas to do presentations and receive immediate feedback. Classes where this is a required component necessitate that the student have access to a PC web camera and microphone.
Short term courses
meet for one week (about 40 hours) of intensive lecture and discussion sessions on the St. Louis campus. Prior to the campus meeting students receive a list of required textbooks to be read before arriving in St. Louis. Subsequent to the on-campus sessions, students complete a major term project. Currently short term sessions are held in January, March, June and October of each year. The Association of Theological Schools (the accrediting agency for seminaries in the United States), requires that about one-half of a graduate theological degree be earned on campus. UGST students may fulfill this residency requirement through a combination of a few short-term courses, a thesis, and an internship. Although both the internship and thesis are conducted off-campus, at the student’s home location, they still count toward the residency requirement. Short term courses are designed to assist distance learners in meeting the residency requirement; however, anyone can enroll in a short term course for credit or to audit.
Q: Do the courses consist primarily of written material?
A: While each course includes a considerable amount of reading and writing, there are also video lectures, group projects and, in some cases, virtual classrooms, where live discussion takes place with the professor and other students in the class. In addition, each course offers links to appropriate sites for students to obtain further information. Also, instructors are available with “office hours” so that students can have ready access. Although the actual procedures will vary from course to course, all classes are designed for frequent interaction with and consistent feedback from the professor.
Q: Do I need an undergraduate degree in theology?
A: To be admitted to a graduate degree program at UGST a distance learner must hold an undergraduate degree. The baccalaureate degree can be in any subject; it need not be a theology degree. However, it must be earned from a fully accredited college or university. The agency granting accreditation must itself be recognized by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. If you have any doubt concerning the legitimacy of an accrediting claim, you may check at the U.S. Department of Education.
If you do not yet hold an accredited bachelor degree or you would like information on using UPCI Bible college credits and ministry or professional experience to earn an accredited degree, contact our Admissions office for information about accredited degree completion programs. Many innovative programs, including online programs, are available that may help you to complete an accredited baccalaureate in one year of study or less.
Q: What should I do if I do not have an accredited undergraduate degree?
A: Due to ATS accrediting requirements, 90 percent of students admitted to UGST must possess accredited undergraduate degrees. Though some students without an accredited baccalaureate may be admitted to our degree programs, there is a waiting list. UGST does, however, offer some advice in finding ways to obtain an accredited bachelor degree as quickly as possible. Please contact our Admissions office for advice.
Q: How much does a Distance Learning course cost?
A: Tuition for Distance Learning is the same as on-campus courses. There is an additional distance learning technology fee of $35 per 3 credits.
Q: Is financial aid available?
A: Requirements are substantially the same as for on campus students. A student must take a minimum of 6 credits/semester to qualify. Full-time is considered successful completion of 12 credits/semester. Financial aid can be pro-rated for the Distance Learning student who enrolls for 9 credit hours. These credits can be earned through a combination of on-campus short terms, distance learning courses, internships in the local church during the second and third year, and thesis. Upper level students may also be eligible to take a few independent study courses.
Q: Great! How do I begin?
A: You do not need to be admitted to the degree program prior to beginning your education with UGST. Students may complete up to 12 credit hours prior to full matriculation. To begin the process, contact Rhonda Morley in the admissions office who will facilitate your registration process. If you have questions specific to distance learning, contact Vinessa D’Sa who will serve as your Distance Learning advisor throughout the program. She will assist you in determining your academic plan once registration is complete. All we need is a telephone call to get you started!
For more information contact:
Dinecia Gates, Director of Admissions