Accredited Education

How Do Online Master’s in Health Care Programs Work?

There are many different methods for online teaching, but in general, online courses work very similarly to traditional ones. Students receive syllabi and overviews for the semester that outline major projects and assignments. Throughout the semester, they meet deadlines, complete projects, converse with other students, meet with professors, and take exams. In some cases, students receive on-site training or meet with students and faculty members during residencies. However, the world of online education is a bit different than traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms. Here are a few avenues of online teaching that you can expect to encounter as an online student.

Video Lectures

Video lectures are becoming more and more prominent in the education industry – not just in online teaching. This type of educational media is precisely what you would imagine it to be. A professor tapes his or her lectures, sometimes adding slides and other media to supplement the main points, and then shares the videos with his or her students. Having access to this type of lecture allows students to watch the material as many times as needed until the subject matter is completely understood. In some cases, quizzes are integrated into the slide presentations in order to encourage in-the-moment recognition and understanding of key points in the material.


In an asynchronous class, instructors provide materials that can be accessed by students within a designated timeframe, usually a week. Students are free to complete the required assignments and readings at their own pace as long as it is completed within the allotted time.


Synchronous online classes require students and faculty members to be online at the same time. This type of online course demands that students be online at a specific time to participate directly with lectures, discussions, and presentations.

Low-Residency or Limited Residency

The discussion of a residency usually applies to psychology programs, but it may also apply to advanced nursing programs. In a program with a low-residency or limited residency, students are required to participate in a minimum number of academic seminars or professional conferences pertaining to the field. Some programs may require specific residencies, some of which require travel and overnight stays.


It is common for master’s programs to require a practicum in addition to a capstone semester, course, or exam. A practicum is essentially an internship within the field, in which students practice and apply their skills while being evaluated by supervisors. In the event that a student is located in a different area than the main campus of a school offering the online program, the school will arrange a practicum with a local entity near the student.

Live Web Conferencing

A synchronous method of teaching and training is a live web conference. At scheduled times, students connect to a virtual classroom or software program that allows them to interact with teachers and fellow students. This method may include video and audio from students, or it may be limited only to text and audio. Regardless of the specific methods used to communicate, the end goal is the same: to participate in a live question-and-answer session with professors and peers.

Virtual Classroom

Virtual classrooms are software programs that allow teachers to organize and share course materials with students. Virtual classrooms offer online calendars, search engines, chat rooms, instant messaging, discussion boards, and file transfer support components for both students and teachers. Blackboard is one of the most popular virtual classrooms.

Discussion Forums

Within a virtual classroom, discussion forums may be created by a professor, with a prompt concerning the material, and might be part of a participation grade. Alternatively, a student may begin a discussion to gain insight from peers. In the online classroom, discussion forums allow students to help answer questions and solve problems without the aid of the professor.


When discussion forums fail to answer critical questions, students will commonly email their professors directly instead of waiting for an answer on the public forum. Depending on the professor or the program, email may be the preferred method of communication. However, many of the functions that are possible through email, such as uploading files and sending messages, are also facilitated through virtual classroom software.