Administering Online Graduate Programs and Hybrid Programs

Administering Online Graduate Programs

Administering online graduate programs is a key service we provide here at CAP Law Online. The success of an online program depends upon several factors. These factors include staffing online courses, integrating with the business office, and providing student support. Crucially, a fully online, self-contained program will look and behave differently than an integrated or blended face-to-face and online program.

Teaching Faculty

Choosing the faculty that will teach in the online program is an institutional   and a business decision. Some institutions choose to use full-time faculty to teach in the online program, while others rely on adjuncts. The advantage of using full-time faculty is that there is an inherent investment into the program’s success while maintaining rigor and reputation of the course quality. The disadvantage is that these faculty cost more.

Adjuncts may have the exact opposite concerns. They are less expensive as employees, but often do not have a vested interest in the success of the program. A “happy” balance may be to set up the full-time faculty in strategic courses that you know are pivotal for a student’s success in the overall program and use adjuncts for the remaining courses.  

Administrative Integration 

You will need to create a team to build an online program. This team will need to meet regularly to ensure the success of the program. Here is a sample list of the people who need to be involved: 

  • Marketing
  • Admissions
  • Financial Aid
  • Registrar’s Office
  • Business Office
  • Technology Staff (to support the website and/or LMS) 
  • Student Support Services
  • Student Accounts
  • Dean (VP) 
  • Faculty
  • Program Director 
  • Accreditation (preliminary meetings only)

Setting up regular meetings and communication flow will be critical for the success of the online program. Online and hybrid students expect to find answers on the website or be able to contact someone at almost any time during the day to get an answer. These students need to be given the same priority as students who can walk into an office on campus. Students may interpret the lack of a quick response as an absence of program quality. 

Student issues need to be communicated to the entire team, so there are common and consistent answers going to the student. Running these programs in the margins will not create a successful program. These programs need to have the team’s full support and be treated just like a face-to-face program but with faster response times. 

Student Needs

Online students have different needs. Simple things like a statement that says, “Please bring this form to the Registrar’s office,” can indicate to an online student that the school is not ready to offer virtual classes. A review of policies and procedures will need to be completed prior to the beginning of the program. Students should be able to register for classes, receive financial aid, and pay their bills online without talking to someone. 

Online students need a “fast break” where someone has the authority to cut through the bureaucracy and get a resolution quickly. Systems should be set up so that, when the time comes and an expedited answer is needed, someone has permission to cut in line and get a resolution for the student. 

Recommended Practices 

When you determine that you want to launch an online program or hybrid program, you should consider how to communicate effectively. You’ll also need to leverage existing processes and create additional ones for your new online students. 

Compensation for teaching faculty should reflect the mission and goals of the program. Take into consideration the load credit for faculty who are teaching online, especially if it is their first time teaching an online course. Creating a mentor relationship between the full-time and adjunct faculty will go a long way toward the program’s success. 

The administrative offices must work together as one unit, seamlessly working with students throughout the processes. Responsiveness is the key to a quality online program. Being sensitive to the unique nature of online and hybrid programs students will help ensure the program is viable for your students.

To learn more about our services and administering online graduate programs email us at