Campus: CSU San Jose -- January 25, 2002

SJSU Students In Occupational Therapy Become First In Nation To Complete M.S. Degree Online

Thirteen San José State University students made school history recently when they became the first graduates of a campus program taught solely on the Internet. The students -- all working occupational therapists -- also are the first of their profession anywhere in the country to complete an M.S. degree online.

Living as far away as Pennsylvania and Illinois, they turned on their computers to go to class during the five-semester, 30-unit program. Technology delivered the course material and also enabled students to communicate amongst themselves via virtual "cafes" and with faculty members in a virtual "townsquare." During the 2 1/2-year program, the students met as a group only three times; each session lasted two to three days.

Anne MacRae, OT professor and advisor to the online students, said that without the convenience offered by the program, "most of the students would not have been able to return to graduate school and fulfill their dream of obtaining an advanced degree. They have families, they have careers and a multitude of other obligations and commitments."

She said some of the students lived in rural area -- nowhere near a university. "Several students," she continued, "relocated their homes and jobs during the course of the program, but they didn't have to change schools. One of them actually lived in three different parts of the country while in the program."

The online program was developed by OT Professor Kay Schwartz and enables students to work on their degrees on their own timelines in different time zones. "They can log on 24 hours a day, seven days a week and not commute to campus on a daily basis," MacRae added.

The university's OT department, founded in 1943, is the oldest accredited such program in the California State University system and has been rated as one of the top OT programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

The new online OT graduates are:

  • Eileen Auerbach of San Francisco

  • Gloria Brown of Las Cruces, N.M.

  • Julie Brown of Draper, Utah

  • Susan Deutsch of Alameda, Calif.

  • Colleen Devine of San Rafael, Calif.

  • Andrea Hoskins of Bainbridge Island, Wash.

  • Mo Johnson, of San Diego, Calif.

  • Tamara Blake Jones of Susanville, Calif.

  • Lisa Kanazawa of Danville, Calif.

  • Laura Nelson of Hollywood, Calif.

  • Gena Rang of Barnesville, Pa.

  • Gigi Smith of Morgan Hill, Calif.

  • Verlinda Street of Harrisburg, Ill.

Steve Zlotolow, SJSU director of distance learning, said the university is considering the establishment of other online programs in different academic areas. Currently, about 750 students enroll every semester in 40 online courses that span the university's diverse curriculum.

For more information on the OT distance learning program, contact the OT department
at 408-924-3070.

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