Online Frequently Asked Questions

Some things you may want to know:

How does online learning work?

In online courses, students "attend" class by accessing information on a secure web site and completing assignments according to the class schedule. At UW-Stout, we currently use a course delivery program known as Learn@UW-Stout, which allows us to post content information, maintain ongoing discussion groups, and coordinate learning activities. Students may also take tests and submit assignments online. New content information (the equivalent of a classroom "lecture") is typically posted once a week, with a corresponding group discussion and student activities or assignments. Students communicate regularly with the instructor and classmates via e-mail and online discussion forums. Most classes also require field based activities, such as community site visits and projects involving your local rehabilitation service offices and/or employers. UW Stout's online courses in rehabilitation counseling are not self-paced, independent study courses. Students are required to complete assignments according to the class schedule, to maintain regular contact with the instructor, and to participate in online class discussions.

Do I have to be online at a certain time each day (or week)?

No, but you are required to "keep up" with the class schedule and to complete assignments before the due dates. Many courses require you to participate in online discussions at least twice during the week. Some classes may have several assignments due each week; others may require work once per week. You can choose the time of day or night you want to log on to the Internet to work on an assignment, but you must complete it and "turn it in" by the specified date and time.

How does an online graduate course compare to the same course offered on campus?

We follow the exact same curriculum and both programs meet requirements set by the Council on Rehabilitation Education. In addition, online courses are taught by the same instructors as their on-campus equivalent, so students have access to the highest quality of instruction regardless of the program format. We also strive to have the same types and level of work involved in both on-campus and online courses. However, online learning does require that we do a few things differently. For example, classes that would typically have a "lab" or hands-on component are restructured for online learners so that you have equivalent experiences, either through alternate class projects or community-based assignments. Either way, our goal is the same: to give you the best possible training in rehabilitation counseling.

Are there any special requirements needed to participate in the online program?

Yes, we require that online students have a minimum of two year's competitive work experience in rehabilitation or direct service to individuals with disabilities. The online program is specifically designed for individuals who are presently working in the rehab profession and wish to obtain a graduate degree to enhance existing skills. We will consider individuals with related experience, such as special education, social work, and nursing, however they must have access to rehabilitation support agencies in their local area and be willing to complete a 300 hour supervised practicum and 600 hour supervised internship in an approved rehabilitation facility.

What skills do I need to be successful in an online graduate program?

Good time management skills are essential for student success. Taking a course over the Internet requires the ability to work independently and to plan your own regular schedule for "attending" class and completing assignments. Students learning online have a greater responsibility for their own success than students in traditional classroom settings. The nature of online learning leads to less structure than you would typically have in a traditional classroom, so it is important that you have the self-discipline and self-motivation to work on a flexible schedule without getting behind.

Will I need to learn to use complicated software?

No. However, you should be very comfortable using basic computer skills, browsing the Internet, using email, and doing basic word processing. We use Microsoft Office software in all of our classes so you will need to have MS Word, PowerPoint, and Excel software at a minimum. UW-Stout students are eligible to purchase MS Office software packages and related educational software at a greatly reduced rate. Training on how to use the Learn@UW-Stout course delivery software is provided during the on-campus orientation session prior to beginning your first semester of classes.

I already have a Master's Degree and just need to take a couple of courses to be eligible for certification. Can I do that through your program?

Unfortunately, our program cannot accommodate individuals who are looking to register for one or two courses. We strongly favor a "closed cohort" system of learning, which means that all of your online courses are taken with the same classmates for the duration of the program. This has been shown to increase success in online learning and helps to create a sense of community among students. There are other online programs that do not have these same conditions and students seeking to take select courses should consult the Council on Rehabilitation Education for information on other distance education options.

How much will it cost? Is financial aid available?

Tuition costs for the 2012-13 academic year are $515 per credit hour, or $3,090 per semester. Tuition rates are expected to increase slightly for subsequent years, proportional to campus increases. There are no additional fees other than the cost of textbooks (approx. $100 – 200 per semester). Tuition costs are the same for in-state, out-of-state and international students. Financial aid is available to qualified students, and may include scholarships, grants, and loans. For additional information, contact the Financial Aid Office at UW-Stout or email questions to finaid@uwstout.edu.

Can I take additional courses if I want to speed up the process and graduate sooner?

No. Our online program was designed for working professionals who wish to pursue a degree on a part-time basis. To maintain the highest quality standards, we offer a prescribed sequence of two courses per semester (one in the summer) for three years. Additional online courses are generally not available through the department. On occasion, students may choose to take an elective or an additional course of specific interest. However, it does not usually allow them to complete the program any sooner.

Do I ever have to come to campus?

Yes — just once. All students are required to attend a 3-day intensive orientation to the online program prior to beginning their first semester of school. This orientation is held at UW-Stout in Menomonie, Wis. during late July or early August. During this time you'll have an opportunity to meet your instructors and classmates face-to-face, learn about accessing support services from a distance, and receive hands-on training in how to engage in online graduate education (including program expectations, use of Learn@UW-Stout, document submissions, and troubleshooting). We even offer a crash course in APA writing style. Past students have said that the orientation is essential to success in online learning and in feeling "connected" to the university. For this reason, we will not accept individuals into our program who are unable to attend the 3-day orientation. Students are required to cover the costs of their travel and accommodations.

What kinds of jobs do graduates of the online master's degree program obtain?

  • Rehabilitation Counselor
  • Rehabilitation Counselor with specialty in
  • Blindness, Deafness or Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Placement specialist
  • Community Rehabilitation Program Counselor
  • Private Rehabilitation Consultant
  • School-to-work Transition Counselor
  • Program Managers
  • Administrators
  • Government Benefits Interviewer
  • University or College Disability Services Specialist
  • Veteran Administration Counselor
  • Job Development Specialist
  • Community Program Manager
  • State Agency District Manager
  • Private Agency Manager
  • Vocational Evaluator
  • Supported Employment Specialist
  • Independent Living Program Coordinator
  • Case Manager
  • Assistive Technology Specialist
  • Job Coach
  • Advocate
  • Independent Living and Community Facilitator
  • Probation and Parole Officer
  • Client Assistance Program Manager
  • Tribal Rehabilitation Counselor

Who do I contact if I have specific questions about the program or would like additional information?

DeLeana Strohl,
Online Graduate Program Director
229 Vocational Rehabilitation Building
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Menomonie, WI 54751-0790

Phone: 715-232-4082
Email: strohld@uwstout.edu

We're happy to talk about your specific needs and how UW-Stout's online program may work for you.