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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Question ‘ Answers with Linda C. Unger

    Question & Answers with Linda C. Unger Associate Director SPD Online School of Professional Development

    1. How long has the SPD been around? What’s the history of SPD?

    In 1967, the Center for Continuing Education (CED) was founded as the only part-time study available at the graduate level on this campus. CED was the granddaddy of SPD and SPD Online.

    Dean Paul Edelson arrived from the Smithsonian Institution in 1986, to develop community-based programs for both credit and non-credit audiences. He restructured CED to meet emerging demands, including teacher training programs at the graduate level and programs needed by corporate institutions and public service agencies, such as the Masters of Professional Studies with concentrations in Public Policy, Human Resource Management, and Waste Management.

    Under Dean Edelson, CED further expanded its programs by adding Advanced Graduate Certificate (AGC) programs developed in conjunction with many other academic departments on both East and West Campuses.

    CED officially changed its name to the School of Professional Development (SPD) in 1997, and has continued to serve both teachers and the business community with new programs and modes of delivery designed to enable working adults to continue their education and thus enhance their careers.

    SPD’s first online courses were offered in 1996. Today, two-thirds of our credit-bearing courses are online and several programs can be taken entirely online, including the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, the Master of Professional Studies, advanced graduate certificate in Human Resource Management and the advanced graduate certificate in Educational Leadership.

    2. Do a lot of students find the online learning beneficial, from your own point of view?

    SPD Online is a fully accredited program taught by the same distinguished faculty using the same challenging curricula as on-campus programs. We run about 80 courses each term that enhance the careers and enrich the lives of the 800 students we serve each term.

    Most of our students are working full-time and have families and other obligations, so they are only able to do their graduate work part-time. Studying online makes it possible for them to fit their graduate studies into an already full schedule. They can go online any time, from any where and interact with classmates and instructors, instead of sticking to a specific schedule that might be difficult for them or their families.

    Additionally, the time they save commuting to campus can be put into their studies. For many of our students, this flexibility is the difference between finishing their graduate degrees or not.

    3. Typically how long does it take most students to finish the online grad program? Is it more or less than someone going to school as opposed to doing it online?

    That depends entirely on how many credits a student is able to take each term, since most of our students are part-time. If a student can take a full schedule of 12 or more credits per term, he or she can finish in one year (three terms). However, SPD allows students up to five years to complete their programs, so most students finish in about two or three years.

    4. Does it cost more to take online courses for your masters than regular classes?

    No, the tuition is the same.

    5. What is your take about the program…What do you feel people should know about SPD?

    Online learning is not just about convenience — it’s about access. SPD Online provide educational opportunities for people who would not be able to continue their education any other way.

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