The Office of Online & Continuing Education, in conjunction with the College of ACES offers many opportunities for the adult learner to continue their education through degree offerings, noncredit courses/workshops and certificate programs. One of the degree options is the Online M.S. in Crop Sciences. This program enables students to strengthen their education part-time through online blended course delivery and optional site-based programming. Students are able to take courses in areas related to crop production, plant breeding, entomology, plant pathology, horticulture, and crop management. The program has delivered University of Illinois courses to agriculture professionals for over thirty years (in its previous site-based format) and has a 24-year history of granting M.S. degrees in Crop Sciences. Students may enroll in individual courses for personal or professional advancement, complete a certificate of professional development in Crop Sciences, or apply for admission to the Master's degree program. To date, hundreds of students have completed individual courses, and over 130 students have received a Master's degree.
Students who successfully complete three qualifying courses are eligible to receive a Professional Development Certificate with an emphasis in Crop Sciences or Horticulture. The Online M.S. in Crop Sciences program also works in conjunction with the Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Online M.S. program and the Agriculture Education Online M.S. program to offer a diverse set of courses.
The Department of Crop Sciences is looking to the future and the needs of the non-traditional student and working professionals by delivering requirements for the entire degree through online distance education technologies. Online courses typically follow a blended distance education model consisting of "live" class meetings in a virtual classroom setting where student/faculty interaction is maintained to a high level. Additionally, an asynchronous (independent) component for course readings and assignments, and a student (chat) Web-board is also part of many courses.
By using a blended distance education model of asynchronous (independent) plus synchronous (live) lecture sessions via the internet, the rigor and quality of the program, together with a high success level of the students in the courses are maintained. Optional site-based courses may still be offered occasionally in Illinois, but are not required for graduation. Online course offerings are available to in-state and out-of-state students at the same tuition rates.