What is the difference between an online and hybrid degree program?

While many of the nation's top business schools have developed online programs which allow students to remain in their current professional working positions in order to gain more knowledge and experience, it is not the only format that allows for flexibility. One option students interested in a graduate's degree will want to consider is the choice between a 100% online degree and a hybrid program. A fully-online program means that all of the course content can be completed on a computer connected to the internet. These programs may still require that students purchase physical books and other resources in order to complete assignments from week to week, however, these materials are readily available to be purchased online and shipped to a student's home. Online programs typically utilize a course software which allows students to log in each day to view assignments, check grades, view messages left by instructors, and even interact with other students for group discussions and projects.

A hybrid program, also known as blended learning, can often combine some of the best parts of a traditional degree and an online program. While most of the course content in a hybrid program will be delivered online through the same software program 100% online students use, business schools will often structure their hybrid programs to include cohort-based educational experiences and either campus visits at the beginning and ending of the degree or feature several residencies throughout the program. These residencies are often weekend experiences which allow students to drive or fly in, spend the bulk of Saturday and possibly Sunday in class, and then be able to travel back home for a week of work. "The U.S. Department of Education published a review of the research on blended learning in 2010, which found that blended learning approaches are often more effective than more traditional face-to-face instruction and that they incorporate learning and teaching elements that are not found in purely online or face-to-face courses." Many students will enjoy the opportunity to have a flexible schedule that an online degree affords while still being able to interact and network with instructors and other students face-to-face during these short residency periods.

Currently, one of the most popular master's programs in the country is a Master's of Healthcare Management. With above-average job growth and a low-unemployment rate in the healthcare management sector, more students are pursuing this degree for a rewarding career in healthcare. Students looking for options will want to consider the MBA with a focus in Healthcare delivered at the Lebow College of Business at Drexel University. Tis 51-credit hour program is offered in a variety of ways allowing the student to choose the format that fits her professional and personal schedule. The accelerated MBA can be completed during evening classes at Drexel's Philadelphia campus while the 100% online MBA can be completed at a slower pace. The accelerated format is designed for students wanting a hybrid experience with an on-campus residency, a consulting online residency course, and an optional international residency.

Another high quality online master's program that has been designed to be completed through distance learning in just two years is offered at the Department of Health Management and Informatics at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The Master's of Health Administration is a 42-credit hour program priced at $34,166. This blended learning experience features mostly online curriculum with short residencies throughout which require students to visit the campus over the weekend.

The choices in online and distance learning keeps growing at an incredible pace as more and more students are looking for flexible programs to fit in their current lifestyle. No matter the specific sector or degree a student is interested in, there are multiple format options to choose from in order for each student to find a great fit in a degree.