The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Month: June 2018

How to “master” online graduate school over the summer

From kindergarten through undergrad (and even some graduate programs), students around the world look forward to getting outside and enjoying the summer sun.  For part-time, online graduate students however, “school’s out for summer” doesn’t necessarily apply — and this can be a very good thing.

Non-traditional graduate programs will often offer summer terms in addition to the standard fall and spring semesters. These options allow students who are working full-time the opportunity to complete their graduate programs even more quickly.

Brandeis GPS offers four 10-week sessions each year, with classes beginning in July, October, January and April. The upcoming July 2018 session, which is technically called Fall 1, runs from July 18 through Sept. 25.

Computer and drink at the beach

Some students may balk at a course that overlaps with scheduled vacation and travel, but taking classes from July to September doesn’t have to hinder any of your exciting summer plans. GPS courses are fully online and asynchronous, meaning that students can access their coursework from any location and timezone. Here are some tips for balancing your course load with your summer beach trips, European excursions and mountain views:

  • Plan as far in advance as you can and be realistic. Read through the course’s syllabus right away to take note of your big assignments, final projects, and exams. Check your calendar to see if you have any important events or travel coming up during the term so you can manage your time around them. If you know you’re spending a week away or have a particularly busy weekend coming up, plan to complete your readings or discussion posts as early as you can. Be honest with yourself about how much time you’ll need for your coursework each week, and build a schedule that’s feasible for you.Sunset over the water
  • Take advantage of technology. Your online courses are mobile-friendly. Keep your mobile devices charged, and take advantage of courses that offer textbooks you can download to your favorite e-reader.
  • Don’t be afraid to disconnect. Summer travel will often involve long plane, train, and car rides with little to no WiFi access. With some advanced planning and downloading, you can take advantage of these long blocks of time to catch up on your coursework, so when you arrive at your destination, you can relax and enjoy yourself.

Good luck to everyone taking our Fall 1 courses, starting in July! For more information on GPS courses or graduate programs, contact gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787 or check out our website.

Set Your GPS, the Next Stop is Your Dream Job

A Boston-area native finds Brandeis GPS Digital Marketing and Design program course offerings align best with her professional goals.

Brittany Sullivan grew up in Norwood, MA about 25 minutes outside of Boston. It’s also about 17 minutes from the Reebok International Headquarters, a place Brittany has wanted to work at for as long as she can remember.

Brittany Sullivan Brittany set her sights on becoming the next digital marketing manager at Reebok, something she would need to work very hard for. But that hard work is not without its rewards, including better job prospects and a higher annual salary. According to a 2015 Georgetown University study called “The Economic Value of College Majors”: “College graduates with a bachelor’s degree earn an average annual salary of $61,000 over the course of their career, while those with a graduate degree earn $78,000 annually.” With undergraduate degrees becoming more common, a master’s degree can really give you added skills and more confidence to pursue and land your dream job.

Some of the subjects Brittany felt passionate about weren’t offered during her undergraduate degree in marketing. Her college offered more generic marketing classes that didn’t focus on digital media. She researched a few different programs, but found the list of courses offered by Brandeis GPS to be the most focused on her professional goals.

Why Enroll at Brandeis GPS?

Brandeis GPS works around your schedule. There are many students currently enrolled who also work a full-time job, just like Brittany. Because Brandeis GPS offers part-time online classes, students can work full time and study when it’s convenient for them. Not sure if a master’s program is for you? Or are you worried about the increased workload? Brandeis GPS will let you take two classes as a trial before officially applying to the program. This can help a potential student gauge if he/she will be able to continue working a full-time job and attend class in-person or online. Recent college grads who are new to the workforce might not be ready to work and take classes at the same time.

Brittany knew she was interested in marketing, but things can change. Brandeis GPS offers 12 master’s degrees, from software engineering to project management. Brittany had the freedom to change and not have to leave the GPS program. But she was concerned about working a full-time job and going to school. In fact, she was all set to take two classes, but after meeting with her student adviser, she decided to start with one and see how it went.

Need Directions?

Everyone learns in different ways and at different speeds. There are a lot of questions to ask yourself before getting a master’s degree at any school, like how long you intend on working in your chosen field, or if there are any financial concerns. Student advisers can help answer these questions and more. Let them be your guide through this exciting transition into higher education.

The GPS program offers small classes, giving the instructor more time for 1-on-1 interaction. Every instructor has virtual office hours or can meet virtually by appointment.

For students who have never taken an online class, the structure can seem foreign at first and maybe a little intimidating. Brittany could continue working at her job, thanks to the flexibility that online classes offer.  GPS faculty are trained to teach online, so that you can focus on learning. In addition to extra training, professors are active professionals in their fields to ensure you are receiving the most up-to-date information and instruction. Even during online classes, students are encouraged to comment on their peers’ work, some assignments also will require students to work as a group.

The Road Ahead

“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.”
― Henry Ward Beecher

By the end of Brittany’s graduate program, she will be one step closer to her dream job at Reebok. She will be a valuable employee because she invested in her future.

This is Brittany’s first course at Brandeis and there will be many more. She knows she is on the right path with the Brandeis GPS program.

Content contributed by Digital Marketing and Design student Andrew Scarella with permission.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Brandeis GPS to Participate in the RoboBusiness AI Summit

Several Brandeis GPS staff members will be representing the division at next week’s Robotics and AI Summit: Advancing Manufacturing Competitiveness event. Special sessions include a round table on “Creating tomorrow’s Robotics leaders,” featuring Nancy Deangelis, Director of Program Development, and Brian Salerno, Director of Online Learning and Instructional Design. The conversation will focus on topics such as what academia can do to support innovation. Let us know if you’ll be attending! You can follow the Summit on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin and register here.

Brandeis GPS offers fully online, top-tier master’s degrees for professionals in today’s most in-demand fields. The Master of Science in Robotic Software Engineering program aims to help students develop an advanced understanding of robotic engineering concepts as they learn from leading software engineers and roboticists. While benefiting from the flexibility of a part-time fully online program, students also gain hands-on experience through the incorporation of robot kits into the curriculum. All courses are ten weeks long, and students can complete the 30-credit degree in as few as 18 months. Samples of our Robotics courses include Modern C++ and Robotics Frameworks, Design and Architectural Patterns for Robotics, and Robot Sensing and Perception.

If you’re interested in applying to the MS in Robotic Software Engineering, you should submit your application by June 20 for fall 1 admission with courses starting in July. Those interested in the program who do not yet wish to pursue a full master’s degree can still enroll in courses. At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two online courses without officially enrolling. This is a great opportunity to get to know our programs and approach to online learning. Learn more about our MS in Robotic Software Engineering, and preview our Robotic Software Engineering courses here. You can also contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) offers fully online, part-time master’s degrees and professional development courses in today’s most in-demand fields. With four 10-week sessions each year, students can complete their degree in as little as 18 months. Courses are led by industry experts who deliver professional insights and individualized support. Brandeis GPS is dedicated to extending the rigorous academic standards that make Brandeis University one of the top institutions in the country to a diverse population seeking to advance their careers through continuing studies. Brandeis is a medium-sized private research university with a global reach, dedicated to first-rate undergraduate education and the making of groundbreaking discoveries. The university’s 5,700 undergraduate and graduate students are motivated, compassionate, curious, and open to exploring new and challenging experiences. 

Right kind of graduate study can give current biotech staff boost we seek

In their June 4 op-ed, Mayor Marty Walsh and Vertex Pharmaceuticals President, CEO and Chairman Dr. Jeffrey Leiden make a compelling case for strengthening the biotech workforce pipeline in Massachusetts. Establishing strong public-private partnerships with Boston Public Schools is a necessary strategy for developing and retaining young talent for the state’s growing biopharmaceutical sector.

It is equally important, however, that we not overlook alternative pipelines for workforce development. Professional master’s degrees can help research assistants, engineers, lab technicians and other qualified biotech professionals transition into the more advanced bioinformatics positions that Massachusetts relies on to remain competitive.

As we continue prioritizing investments in economic growth and innovation, we must remember that there is more than one educational pathway toward closing the biopharma skills gap. The right type of graduate education can equip professionals who already have a foothold in the industry with the technology and expertise to advance their careers, producing a new wave of talented employees who can take on this complex and incredibly important work.

 

This letter first appeared in the Boston Globe on June 10.

Challenge Accepted: This Student Chose to Ride the Wave to Overcome Tragedy

Enjoying the flexibility of GPS courses, a Brandeis employee balances online graduate school with her other passions.

The ocean waves – their swooshing sound, their sparkle in the distance – are soothing to her eyes and mind. Gazing at the momentum of each wave as they crash against the shore offers a sense of serenity to it. The seemingly endless horizon breeds purity that helps take her away from what life’s struggles might have brought her. And it is with this meditative enjoyment of nature’s raw beauty that she finds complacency in life. As each wave crawls up the shore to makes its mark on the duney sand, it represents an accomplishment that which she is proud of.

Victoria Felson in Maine

Meet Victoria Felson: beachgoer and student at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies (GPS).

Take One.

Victoria has a simplistic mentality that she garnered after an unfortunate tragedy she and her family suffered eight years ago. It was not easy at first to pursue a graduate degree when trying to overcome life-altering, personal distress. Her first attempt at grad school washed up quickly like a small wave that barely makes a ripple in the ocean. The ambition and desire was there, but Victoria’s life still had not quite settled down. She did not give up then though.

With each day there are many more waves to catch and grab hold of, many opportunities to embrace. As some waves reach their crest and dive back into the ocean, they have an almost inviting look. They crash back into the ocean with a sense of hopefulness and gleam the possibility of success. One day, Victoria saw a wave and did not take her eyes off of it. She saw herself diving back in with the wave headfirst, arms overhead, and with a bright smile on her face. It was time to earn her Master’s degree.

Take Two.

After learning from her co-workers that Brandeis GPS offers 100% online degrees, Victoria knew the program was a strong fit. Positive feedback from others already enrolled in the Digital Marketing and Design program reeled her in to take advantage of the free courses as a Brandeis employee. In reviewing other MBA programs, she noticed that they tended to offer only live classes at scheduled times during the week, and most of the student were full-time. Scheduled class times were not an option for Victoria, so the flexible online setting that Brandeis GPS offers has allowed her to balance school with work and her social life. Thanks to the ability to complete her degree as a part-time student as well, Victoria can still frequent Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA and fit schoolwork into her schedule comfortably. Considering a day away at the beach is like a vacation to her, she is not willing to compromise on that one. Victoria is pleased that she been able to further herself while still enjoy her passions in life.

As an older staff member with only an undergraduate degree, Victoria knows she needs to learn and acquire new skills so her background is not outdated. The real perk is that should Victoria decide to take a different path with Brandeis GPS, she still has until the end of her second course to matriculate into a program and still be able to apply the courses. The other beauty of Brandeis GPS is the integration between the programs. Many courses in various programs intersect with each other so Victoria is gaining a diverse skill set that can be applied to her work in a multi-faceted manner.

Life’s Other Pleasures.

Aside from the beach, some of Victoria’s other interests are walking in state parks, doing yoga, going to the pool in her condo complex, and tending to her patio garden filled with perennials. She enjoys being challenged by what perennials bloom in the sun, not requiring much maintenance and showing brilliant colors, just as her classwork challenges her to remain current with her skills and knowledge in the growing digital world. With the courses taught by professionals actively working in their respective fields, Victoria is gaining relevant expertise to apply to her work. As a senior support professional to the Vice President of alumni relations in the Institutional Advancement Division at Brandeis University, she has done some digital marketing in the past and plans to in the future. As she progresses with her courses though, she plans to find a job in marketing to directly apply the learned concepts on a regular basis. Victoria is confident that her Brandeis degree will present herself as a marketable candidate for employers that offer higher paying positions. Maybe she will look to expand her garden at that point, buy a house or merely enjoy the occasional overnight stay near Crane Beach with her boyfriend.

Nature’s beauty truly lures Victoria in to learn more, both in life in general and about herself. She uses nature as a catalyst to reflect and continue onward and upward. And progress she has! In a famous line by Frederick Douglass, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Life is not always quite as sympathetic as one might like to think. Some of us are challenged in ways – mentally and emotionally – that we do not want to be. But it is with these unfortunate circumstances that we are given the opportunity to learn things about ourselves that we might not know were true. Victoria used her tragedy as motivation to press the reset button and embark on the exciting challenge of pursuing her Master’s degree with Brandeis GPS. A flexible class schedule, experienced faculty, and applicable coursework have all given her the balance in life that she has been seeking for some time.

Take Three.

When asked if she would have chosen Brandeis University given the opportunity to start over again, Victoria said, “I’m very satisfied with GPS. If all things were the same, yes, I’d choose the same school.” Victoria is gaining more fulfillment in her life, both professionally and personally, since beginning to take courses with Brandeis GPS. The current of her life is a steady flow nowadays. The horizon is looking brighter and the ocean a bit calmer. Victoria is still gazing at that wave and will continue until she walks across the stage, degree in hand.

Content contributed by  Digital Marketing and Design student Casey Ducinski with permission. 

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

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