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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

More summer courses offered online since 2016

Virtual learning becomes ‘standard’
Source: The Nest course registration database. Percentages are estimates based on courses in The Nest with the “On-Line” campus tag or the “OL” section code, divided by the total number of classes with the “Undergraduate” attribute for each year. GRAPHIC: CARA HALLIGAN ’25/THE HAWK

St. Joe’s undergraduate summer classes are increasingly being offered online.

The Hawk compiled course listings from The Nest from 2016 through 2024 and found that in 2016, only about 39% of undergraduate courses were online courses, while in 2017, 2018 and 2019, the percentages were all above 40%.

In 2020, nearly all summer classes were held online due to covid-19, and undergraduate summer classes have remained majority online through 2021 (about 72%), 2022 (about 61%), 2023 (about 66%) and 2024 (about 71%).

Even with the increase in online offerings, there are no plans to be entirely virtual in the summer,  wrote James Carter, Ph.D., interim provost, in response to written questions from The Hawk.

Online summer courses have been offered at least as far back as 2008, when a resolution on a Distance Education Committee was passed with the goal of establishing “university-wide guidelines for distance education courses,” said Peter Norberg, Ph.D., senior associate provost for academic and faculty support.

Current online summer classes are either synchronous, with the students and professor meeting at the same time on a set schedule, or asynchronous, with the professor providing the course content and students completing assignments on their own time.

Jason Mezey, Ph.D., professor of English, who teaches asynchronous courses during the summer, said even though he and his students do not meet in real time, he still tries to create courses that are valuable to them.

“Making sure that the online asynchronous course was its own thing, and not simply a time convenient, shorter substitute for a face-to-face course, was particularly important because the people who are taking those courses are paying the same tuition money,” Mezey said. “So, they should actually get an educational experience that is worthy of the time and the money they’re spending.”

Tuition costs, which are charged per-credit for summer courses, as opposed to fall and spring semester tuition charges, can add up when combined with rent, utilities and other off-campus living expenses for students staying nearby for in-person courses.

Olivia O’Connor ’25, who is planning to take courses this summer, said these additional costs are one reason some students may prefer online summer courses. Online summer courses allow more flexibility for students when it comes to location, she said.

“I definitely think, especially in my case, online classes are just more convenient scheduling-wise,” O’Connor said. “I do have an internship this summer, as well, which I’m fortunate enough is hybrid. It makes it all easier if I can do both summer classes and internship from the same place.” ‘

Emily Horan ’25, who has taken summer classes the past two years, and will do so again this summer, purposefully chooses online classes over in-person ones.

“I found virtual classes to be really helpful for me,” Horan said.

Paul Patterson, Ph.D., professor of English and faculty pre-law advisor, said he has been teaching summer courses for 15 years. Most of his summer classes were originally in person, Patterson said, but for the past few years they’ve all been online.

Patterson said he thinks the recent increase in online summer courses stems from covid.

“I started offering some online summer courses before covid, but I think covid definitely made that shift more prominent across the campus, and it normalized it,” Patterson said. “I was probably one of the outliers, offering an online course five years ago. I think now that’s pretty standard across St. Joe’s.”


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Savannah Warner
Savannah Warner, Assistant News Editor
Ally Engelbert
Ally Engelbert, Managing Editor
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Kiley O'Brien, Assistant News Editor
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