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What’s the point of a Low-Residency program?

At Nonprofit Colleges Online, we like to champion the benefits of taking your college experience online.  We’ve found that it is almost always much cheaper than studying on-campus, it affords a greater deal of flexibility when it comes to scheduling courses, students are not bound to any particular geographical location when considering programs, and it is typically the same curriculum – save for some tweaks – as the on-campus curriculum.

But for certain degree programs, an entirely online experience is not offered.  When researching for our rankings of the top online Master’s degrees in English and Creative Writing list, we found that a large amount of the programs were not entirely online and followed a low-residency model.  This meant that for a small amount of time during the semester, students were required to visit the school’s campus.

So why should you consider a low-residency program?


For many of Master’s of English / Creative Writing programs that we researched, many of the low-residency programs had students taking up residency in beautiful scenic locales in order to help them gain more creative inspiration.  Whether it was a low-residency program that had students travel across Europe, or programs designed with retreated in the mountains, these programs used the low-residency model to remove students from their normal environment and place them into somewhere more calm and serene.


Typically, students looking for an online degree program are often times looking for a program that allows them to have some flexibility over their day-to-day schedule.  They have obligations outside of pursuing their degree.  By enrolling in a low-residency program, students are able to have that flexibility for most of the duration of their studies, while allowing themselves the benefit of immersing themselves in just their studies for a short period of time.  By attending the residency portions, students will focus on just their studies for a week or two at a time.  This period of time will allow them singularly focus on their studies.


While communication through systems like Blackboard, video conferencing, email, and more has allowed online programs to benefit from the types of collaboration found on-campus, low-residency programs allow students to experience a more traditional type of collaboration.  By having students live together on campus for a short period of time during the program, they are able to work closely with their peers to learn from each other and critique each other’s work.  They are able work from home most of the time, but for a short period of time during the program they can work closely with others.

Best of both worlds!

For some students, pursuing a degree online is a necessity.  Whether it is due to the financial savings or the flexibility in scheduling, some students must study online as their lifestyle does not permit full-time or part-time on-campus studies.  Through a low-residency program, students are able to gain the benefit of both an on-campus an online degree experience.

The low-residency programs allow students to schedule the vast majority of their studies on their own terms while also affording them large amounts of savings due to being primarily online.  But the students are also able to enjoy the face-to-face collaboration, immersion in their studies, and the chance to be inspired by a new place that often comes with an on-campus degree.