A West Virginia University graduate student from Saipan, an island in the Pacific Ocean near Guam, never stepped foot in West Virginia until her commencement ceremony. Robin Lizama Palacios completed all of the work for her masters degree in special education online.

For more than three decades, WVU Extended Learning has offered an assortment of graduate degree programs off-campus and, more recently, online.

Finding the time to complete a graduate program is no longer a challenge. WVU s online degree programs have all been designed with the working adult in mind. The flexibility of online classes allows students to complete courses around work, family and travel. Two to three years is all it takes for most students to finish their programs.

Other popular online programs include elementary and secondary education, special education, rehabilitation counseling, integrated marketing communications and legal studies. For a full list of degree programs offered, visit http://www.elearn.wvu.edu/Degrees/graduate.html

Financial aid is available for all graduate degree programs. Students may also take advantage of special tuition rates provided through WVU s partnership with Southern Regional Electronic Campus. Some programs have scholarships and grants available. For more information on financial aid, visit http://www.finaid.wvu.edu .

WVU s online degrees meet the same accreditation standards that traditional programs do and many of them hold specialized accreditation within the discipline. For example, the rehabilitation counseling program is nationally accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education.

All programs must also meetQuality Mattersstandards for online programs. Those include meeting national standards, promoting student learning, continuous quality improvement and they are part of a faculty-driven collegial peer review process.

All online courses and programs go through the same rigorous process as on-campus courses,said Sue Day-Perroots, dean of Extended Learning. Each course must have a syllabus, a calendar, assignments, discussions and assessments.

Theresa Ritz, of Washington, Pa., was able to complete the rehabilitation counselor education program, while working at the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Online courses give you the opportunity to study at your convenience, so you can have a life and youre not bound to a classroom,Ritz said.It works really well for people who are self-motivated for one thing, and you can go over the material over and over again, where in a traditional classroom setting you hear the professor say it one time and if you dont have it in your notes youve missed it.

Discussion boards and blogs also connect students to their classes.

Distance students develop relationships with each other, while staying in their own community,said Margret Glenn, program coordinator for rehabilitation counseling.

For more information, visit http://www.elearn.wvu.edu .