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Graduate Student Admission

Learning Strategies for Online Graduate Students

Advice for New and Returning Students

Despite the fact that learning online is very similar to learning in a traditional classroom setting there are some key differences. In both settings students are expected to keep up with textbook and lecture materials; complete all assignments, research papers, and projects in a timely fashion; and contribute to class discussions. However, the ways in which these educational components are conducted may vary based on the medium by which the class is being taught. Regardless of whether you are new to online courses or have a high level of experience with online learning, these tips and strategies can help you make the most of your educational experience.

Computer Skills

In order to be successful in an online course, students will be required to have basic computer skills. Throughout the duration of online courses, students will be communicating with their professors as well peers by using online discussion forums, email, and/or video conferencing. Students will need to upload all assignments through the course platform for grading. You may be required to create and interpret a variety of spreadsheets, presentations, documents and images depending on the nature of the online course you are enrolled in. Because all of these qualities contribute vastly to a successful online education, it is pivotal to have consistent access to a computer and/or laptop as well as the Internet.

Proper Online Communication

Students enrolled in online courses will be required to collaborate with both instructors and classmates through writing. Throughout the semester you may need to participate in forums, chat rooms, email chains, and/or live video streaming.

It is extremely important to uphold a high standard of online etiquette when participating in these written discussions. Refrain from using fragmented sentences, excessive jargon, inappropriate language, sarcasm, and emojis. Furthermore, while composing emails to both classmates and instructor make sure you are being clear and concise.

Tip: Discussion forums only reach their fullest potential when students completely engage in the discussions and offer thoughtful and encouraging responses to each other every time.


When conducting research at the graduate level it is important to be able to use a variety of research tools in order to find credible sources and scholarly articles. At Marist, students have access to the online “e-brary” which offers tutorials in using the many library databases in order to find the best sources for your research. Visit the James A. Cannavino Library to learn more.

Time Management

In order to be a successful online student, you may find it helpful to schedule specific times each week to complete schoolwork. If you are attending graduate school while working time management skills are extremely important. Some suggestions include: be sure to log-in to your course profiles multiple times each week to ensure that you are not falling behind, have access to a mobile copy of each course syllabus and record all due dates and test dates on your mobile calendar, be sure to set automated reminders far enough in advance so you have a sufficient amount of time to complete assignments and study for tests.

Collaborating and Group Projects

Collaborating with other students is an essential part of any online course. Developing effective collaboration and communication skills is applicable and critical in professional settings as well as the classroom. Job candidates who are team players and can communicate efficiently with colleagues and customers are highly sought out by employers.

Remember that while communicating online with group members the same conversational dynamics apply as they do in face-to-face communication. Be sure to be present and involved throughout the duration of group projects. Group projects have the potential to become meaningful and professional experiences if all members cooperate and collaborate effectively.

Online learning is a convenient and accessible method for many people looking to further their level of education and advance their career. Whether this is your first online course or not, by applying the strategies discussed above, and making an effort to reach out to other students as well as instructors when help is needed, you will grow to appreciate the level of flexibility online learning can make provide.

Contact Marist College's Office of Graduate Admission to learn more about our many online and on-campus graduate programs.

Written by Erin O'Brien '18