November 11, 2010 | | Leave a comment Many students and professors like the convenience of online education but also feel that face-to-face interaction still has its place in higher education. In response to this trend, some schools have developed a hybrid program that uses online studies to supplement the classroom-based course. Some programs do not lend themselves to be completely integrated online, however they do allow students to complete some web-based coursework while using specialized equipment that is only available at a university. LeTourneau University (LETU) will begin a hybrid master’s degree program in engineering beginning next fall, reports The Gilmer Mirror. This course of study will follow the school’s bachelor’s curriculum and feature advanced courses in electrical, mechanical, biomedical, computer and civil engineering. Students must complete a thesis in one specialization in order to graduate. “With our strong undergraduate engineering research tradition totaling $4.5 million in external funding in the past decade, this new master of science in engineering program moves us that much closer to being one of the best, comprehensive engineering schools in the country,” Dale A. Lunsford, president at the school, told the news source. College officials added that the master’s program will begin as an on-campus curriculum, but soon will combine online courses with on-site weekend lab sessions. They added that this entices students to continue their education at LETU. “We will be able to retain some of our most talented LETU engineering students whom we previously lost to other graduate schools such as MIT, Penn State and Stanford,” Yoni Adonyi, chair of the engineering graduate committee, told the news source. Although The school’s master’s in engineering will start as an on-campus program, plans are under consideration to deliver it in a hybrid style by combining online courses with on-site labs that will be held during weekends. Hybrid courses help universities retain students Other universities are beginning hybrid programs as a means to offer programs to busy professionals that they could not normally reach. For instance, South Oregon University (SOU) has partnered with Southwestern Oregon Community College (SOCC) to offer students a business degree that will combine in-class lessons at the SOCC with online sessions. Students who complete the program will graduate with a degree from SOU, according to the Ashland Daily Tidings. The program is identical in cost and content to its fully on-campus counterpart and is designed for "the working population, who have jobs and families, or want to start their own businesses, but cannot leave town for education," Joan McBee, SOU professor told the news source. College officials added that the coursework includes classes in finances, operations, management and marketing, and students will able to complete their degree within seven semesters if they are enrolled full-time. The hybrid format allows students to stay closer to home and enroll in classes full-time. Hybrid programs allow schools to offer high-demand courses of study to more students The Notre Dame College, which is located in Northern Ohio, recently announced the launch of its security policy studies beginning next fall, according to The News Herald. The school is offering the curriculum in a hybrid format that requires students to complete three weekend day-long classes at the campus. College officials told the news source that the issues that are addressed in the weekend classes will include homeland security, terrorism and counterterrorism, as well as strategic intelligence. "While the demand for entry-level homeland security professionals has increased substantially, the demand for professionals with more sophisticated levels of competence and readiness has also grown," said John G. Hatzadony, the director of the graduate program in Security Policy Studies. Online classes coupled with classroom instruction have benefitted both higher learning institutions as well as students by providing an atmosphere that is conducive to learning while maintaining the integrity of school’s degree programs.