Young student studies in a library, using a laptop and learning online.

Why I Loved Getting My Online Master’s Degree from Point Park University

What Concerns Did You have Before Pursuing a Graduate Program?

The decision to return to graduate school was a difficult one for me. Working full-time and raising a young child, I believed that I wouldn’t have the time or energy to commit to a graduate program fully. Affordability was another consideration. I also worried that I would be required to take coursework with no bearing on my professional growth to meet degree requirements.

With a full-time job, a family, and the goal of advancing my career, I needed a program that offered a combination of flexibility, efficiency, affordability, and excellence. I found that in Point Park University’s Master of Education in Special Education.

Point Park’s M.A. in Special Education’s affordability allowed me to pursue my dream career. I started my teaching career as a social studies teacher. After several years of teaching, I was drawn to working with students with special needs. I ended up co-teaching a world history class with a special education teacher, and the experience solidified my desire to work in special education.

I had, however, already accumulated loans for my initial master’s in education. I didn’t want to burden my family by taking out additional loans. I looked at several programs, and I knew the cost put them out of my reach. A friend’s son was attending Point Park and recommended that I look into their programs. Once I learned that Point Park was an affordable option, I began exploring their program options.

How Did Point Park University’s Online Format Address Your Concerns?

The option that stood out to me was the online master’s program. I learned that Point Park University offered the flexibility that I was looking for. The program is structured in eight-week, condensed courses that are taken one at a time. Being able to focus on one class at a time helped me commit to my coursework while working full-time.

Asynchronous coursework gave me the freedom to develop a schedule that worked best for me. While there were several Saturdays spent on assignments, I was still able to find a manageable balance between coursework, my job, and being with my family.

Point Park’s flexibility extended beyond the program’s structure. They worked with me to schedule my courses to maximize my employer’s tuition reimbursements, offered different payment options, and helped me through the loan application process. I appreciated that all departments were incredibly responsive and willing to work with you to optimize your experience.

In addition to offering flexibility, the program’s curriculum was thorough while being efficient. There were no “filler” course requirements. Each course served a purpose. I could immediately apply what I learned in my courses to my classroom practices.

The assignments that I completed are still applicable. I utilize some of them in my classroom and review others when I need to refresh my memory. Even though I was preparing to become a special education teacher, I became a better general education teacher in the program.

How did You Foster Connection and Collaboration with Your Cohorts and Professors?

The program’s efficiency did not sacrifice excellence, and I was impressed by how thorough it was. Project and essay assignments were challenging and relevant, and I felt connected to my cohort through weekly discussion board assignments.

The format of these discussions allowed us to delve deeper into topics than we would have been able to in a traditional classroom format with time constraints. It’s a testament to the quality of Point Park University’s special education program that when I became a special education teacher, I hit the ground running.

In Your Opinion, What are the Top Advantages of Point Park University’s Online Master’s Special Education Program?

I’ve been teaching special education since earning my master’s from Point Park University. I started as an itinerant/supplemental resource teacher and have now transitioned into a supplemental/full-time life skills classroom at the middle-school level. I credit my thorough preparation from Point Park for my ability to adapt to new teaching situations and meet the diverse needs of my students.

I had such a positive experience in Point Park University’s M.A. in Special Education program that I decided to return to Point Park in 2020 to complete the principal certification program. I can attest that for my second time around, Point Park continued to impress! My advisor worked with me to develop a schedule that met my needs. The program affordability allowed me to complete it without taking out loans. As with my master’s program, I received individualized attention from my professors. I felt that they were invested in my growth. The work was relevant and challenging.

While I plan to stay in special education, the principal certification program has expanded my teacher leadership opportunities within my school. For example, in addition to teaching, I am now our school’s Induction and Mentoring Program Coordinator. Point Park helped me grow professionally and further my career in more ways than one!

If you’re considering enrolling in an online education program at Point Park University, my advice is go for it! If you’re hesitant for any of the reasons I mentioned: affordability, flexibility, efficiency, and excellence, know that you can work, raise a family, have a life, and be in grad school with the right program. You’ve got this!