I’m actually about to start year two, so the first year has been done for a few weeks now.
I started the UNT Online Master’s program in applied anthropology last August. It was my first year in grad school and also the first year for the online program. UNT’s online program is the first exclusively online master’s in applied anthropology in the U.S.
Overall I feel like the online program went very well in its first year, the classes were extremely in-depth and I walked away feeling like I learned a lot. They absolutely lived up to my high standards. We did run into some bumps with one of our Spring courses, but the students banned together to bring their concerns to the department, our voice was heard, and the problems were addressed. I’m confident that going forward the future students will not face these same issues. You see, that’s one of the beauties of being in a brand new program- it’s a learning experience for all of us and our faculty are dedicated to making the program the best it can be. They listen to our feedback and adjust accordingly.
I’m extremely happy with how well the first year went for me. I’m in a unique situation within the program because I am a more traditional student in that my only job is as a research assistant , most other students work full-time and/or have families. Because I am a full-time student I’m looking to have a more traditional experience as a graduate student (doing research, going to conferences, etc.) and I was somewhat concerned that I might not be afforded these opportunities as an online student. The interesting thing about the UNT program is that you can have the experience that you want to have- some students login, do their coursework and that’s the extent of their participation and others, like myself, have taken jobs as RAs (there are two online RAs), attended conferences, socialized, etc. I’m getting what I want from the program and I’m happy with it.
Looking back at my first year I achieved a lot. I learned Atlas.ti, SPSS, participated in two research projects (one a class project, the other as a RA), attended the AAA and the SfAA conference , launched the SfAA podcasts project (see website here), and made a lot of new friends. All of this as an online student :)
I recently went back to Denton, TX to visit the UNT campus and meet the incoming online students at their required orientation. It wasn’t a required trip for me, but I wanted to meet with a few people face-to-face and to meet the new students. The first year cohort put together a list of our experiences and recommendations for the new folks and I shared the list at the orientation. There are a lot of really interesting people entering into the program. I’m excited to see what their experiences will be, how they will help build the program, and to get to know them.
My second year starts on Monday. I wonder what this new year will bring?