Science & Technology

UWF offers fully online Master of Science program

University of West Florida’s newly adopted master of science (MS) program in mathematics allows students to attend classes either fully online or in a classroom, and boasts more students than MS programs at FSU, UCF, FIU, USF and UNF’s. The flexibility that this program offers has been a great asset to the university and to the success of the students.

In addition to this online flexibility, the program allows the professors to teach a live face-to-face class that is also recorded and streams live online for distance students. Since its inception in the summer of 2008, the MS program at UWF has grown to 73 students in 2010. Thirty-six students were enrolled in the program in 2008, only two of which were online students. Nicole Richards, a December 2010 graduate of the MS program in math at UWF, chose UWF because she lives in Fort Walton Beach, about an hour and a half from the main UWF campus.

“Driving to Pensacola to attend class was just not feasible for me while working a full-time job,” said Richards. “The professors in the department are extremely responsive to your needs. They genuinely care about each student, which means the world when you are so far away. Without this program, I would have never been able to obtain my master’s degree.”

Based on the number of applications the university has received for the fall 2011 semester, there may be more than 100 students enrolled for the MS program in math in the fall. The program was originally designed to be for math teachers that could not come to campus to take classes, but had an interest in earning their master’s degree. However, it was quickly determined that the synchronous program could be useful to any student.

“The nature of the mathematical sciences dictates that students need to actually hear the instructors explain the concepts and ideas in order to learn,” said Kuiyuan Li, Ph.D., distinguished university professor & chairman of the Math Department at UWF. “Face-to-face teaching is ideal, but this fully online synchronous program is the second best thing.”

Students in the program have the ability to view the professor’s notes online, watch the lecture streaming live and also refer back to a recorded version of the lecture at any time. All materials for every lecture are posted on the e-learning site for each student to access.

“The synchronous aspect is important to most of the students, especially those in the military. They can review the recordings at a time of their choosing,” said Morris Marx, Ph. D., a math professor at UWF.

In addition to the attributes listed above, each professor has online office hours. This provides online students the opportunity to interact with their professors as if they were in a classroom setting via video chat software. Also, students have the capability to type questions and send them to the professor to be answered during the live online lectures. They can also ask the question verbally via a headset if they prefer.