Below is a collection of frequently asked questions. If you do not find what you are looking for, please feel free to contact us.
Who can answer my questions?
When in doubt, call your home university’s campus coordinator (hyperlink). These individuals act as the liaison between you and your educational journey. Campus coordinators can find an answer or connect you to the person who can help.
Will I have an advisor?
Yes, students work with an academic advisor at their home university after admission to a program. Your advisor works with you to set your educational goals.
What jobs do graduates get with these online degrees?
Check your program’s webpage for information about jobs related to your degree.
Are all universities accredited?
Yes, all Great Plains IDEA universities are accredited by the association in their region. For our member universities, accrediting agencies are the North Central Association of College and Schools (NCA), Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) or the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
What are the credentials of the faculty?
Faculty teaching Great Plains IDEA courses meet qualifications to teach at their universities. Member universities assign top professors for Great Plains IDEA academic programs to teach courses that highlight their specialties. To read about individual faculty achievements and research interests, visit the People webpage (hyperlink) of our website or scroll to the bottom of any program page for a list of teaching faculty.
How do multiple universities offer degrees together?
You choose a member university as a home university. The home university is where you are admitted, enroll, pay tuition and receive a degree. Courses are taught online by faculty at the home university or by faculty at other member universities.
You access coursework through the online Learning Management System (LMS) (hyperlink) of the teaching university. At the end of the semester, instructors report grades to your home university for your official transcript. The course appears on the transcript as a home university course rather than a transfer course.
Does the online format provide the same quality education offered by a traditional campus?
Accrediting agencies hold Great Plains IDEA online degree programs to the same institutional and instructional standards of traditional on-campus programs.
Will my diploma say “online degree”?
No, your diploma will not have the words “online degree” anywhere on it. However, some transcripts indicate if classes are taken online. Check with your home university registrar’s office for more information.
How is confidential information, like grades, shared between multiple universities?
ExpanSIS is the online, secure database Great Plains IDEA universities use to house and share student information. Campus coordinators use ExpanSIS to share course information, manage enrollment and exchange grades.
How long will it take to earn my degree?
Most online students take one to two classes per semester. To complete a master’s degree online, students typically take two-and-a-half to three years. To complete a bachelor’s degree online, students may take longer since universities require more credit hours for undergraduate degrees.
The time to complete a degree depends on financial aid requirements, family commitments, total credit hours required for your degree, the workload at your job and unexpected life events.
How do I know what programs are offered?
Great Plains IDEA offers certificates and degrees in two academic areas: human sciences and agriculture. View a list of our human sciences programs (hyperlink), or take a look at our agricultural programs (hyperlink).
How do I plan my course schedule?
Your academic advisor knows the requirements for your program and helps you create a plan for degree completion. The course planner (hyperlink), our interactive planning tool, shows you a three-year projected schedule of courses for your program. In addition, each program provides a list of upcoming courses with detailed descriptions on this website.
Who are the typical students in Great Plains IDEA programs?
Great Plains IDEA students are people like you who want a high quality education. They may be professionals advancing their careers to the next level. They may be recent graduates earning a master’s degree or certificate while working full time. They may be people who have been away from school or the workforce who want to upgrade skills or want a career change. Some students are in the military and also taking classes. Some are spouses of military service members, and they need degree programs they can complete anytime, anywhere.
Is it possible to work full time while earning a degree through Great Plains IDEA?
Yes, many of our students balance work, school, family and fun. Hear from Great Plains IDEA Students (hyperlink to testimonials) about working while taking online college courses. You can also visit our Student Success Center (hyperlink) for advice on how to manage your time, fine-tune your study skills and much more.
What happens if I need to take a break from the program? Can I resume at a later date?
Some students do take a break. Visit with your campus coordinator or academic advisor to learn how a stop-out works at your home university.
How do I drop a course?
Notify your home university campus coordinator, the teaching university campus coordinator and the course instructor if you need to drop a course. Policies of your home university determine refunds.
What student services are available to me?
Each university has a campus coordinator (hyperlink) who guides students through processes like admissions, enrollment and graduation. Through your home university you have access to an online library system, information technology support services, a financial aid office, disability support services and military or veteran support services. Visit the Great Plains IDEA Student Success Center (hyperlink) for advice about time management, online discussion board postings, writing an academic paper, searching for a job and much more.
How do my instructors know of disability accommodations I need during their courses?
Start by contacting your home university Disability Support Services Office (hyperlink to our page with contact info). Obtaining disability accommodations and services is a student-driven process. It is a confidential process. Each semester you need accommodations, you need to re-engage your home university Disability Support Services Office. Learn more about Disability Support Services through the Student Handbook (hyperlink to Student Handbook webpage).
How do I access my online courses?
Students access Great Plains IDEA courses through the Learning Management System (LMS) (hyperlink) used by the teaching university. The LMS is your virtual classroom for the semester. Once you enroll, the teaching university campus coordinator provides instructions for accessing their LMS and your course.
When do I need to be online for class?
Our online courses are nearly all asynchronous, which means you won’t need to be online at a specific day and time each week. Although you complete coursework when it’s convenient for you, a course is rarely self-paced. Instructors usually set weekly deadlines. Review the course schedule each week and note all due dates. It is your responsibility to fit school work into your schedule. While opportunities to work ahead might occur, you may not have access to the entire course at once. Instructors often group material into one or two week modules, making course work available one module at a time.
How are faculty expectations of online students different than those of on-campus students?
While your instructor is in charge of giving you materials to help you learn, you are responsible for your learning whether online or face-to-face. In online courses, you communicate your ideas to instructors and fellow students generally through email or discussion board posts. Expect to keep up with readings so that you can contribute to online discussions. Faculty still expect online students to think critically and creatively in class activities, to do honest work, to meet deadlines and to respect others in the class the same as they would in on-campus classes.
As an online student, do I receive a physical student ID card?
It depends on your home university if you get a physical student ID card. Most universities do not automatically provide student ID cards when usernames are issued. Follow up with your campus coordinator to see how you can go about getting a student ID card at your home university.
How many usernames am I going to have?
Some students have as few as two or three usernames, while others have as many as five or six. The number is based on the number of teaching universities you access in your program. To help you remember usernames, we offer this fillable Course Login Tracking Sheet (PDF) (hyperlink). When in doubt about a Learning Management System username, contact the teaching university campus coordinator (hyperlink) for assistance.
Am I ever required to come to campus?
All courses are taught online. You may choose to travel to campus for the optional graduation ceremony.
Where do I purchase my textbooks?
If your courses require textbooks, you may purchase them through your home university bookstore, from an online vendor or at a bookstore near you. Find the title, author and international standard book number (ISBN) on our website on the course description page.
What about a graduation ceremony when I complete the program?
You may travel to your home university to participate in the on-campus commencement ceremonies. If travel is not an option for you, many universities live stream graduation ceremonies. Some institutions provide a virtual commencement for distance students. Ask your campus coordinator about graduation options for distance students at your home university.
What are the technology requirements for my program?
The only requirements are that you have internet access and regular access to a computer with one of the following operating systems: Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS or Android. Use the latest version of your preferred web browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.). Some Learning Management Systems (LMS) function better in a specific browser. Visit the LMS webpage (hyperlink) to learn more. Some courses require additional software to complete assignments and to collaborate with classmates. Needed software is available online or within the course.
How comfortable do I need to be using technology?
Taking classes online requires proficiency with email and email attachments, web browsing, word processing and file downloading and uploading.
You complete your coursework through online Learning Management Systems (LMS) (hyperlink). Each university has a designated LMS. You learn to use various systems, yet they are all similar. Resources are available to assist you with troubleshooting.
What happens if I have a technical problem?
If your technology problem is going to cause you to miss a deadline, let your instructor know what’s happening and how you are working to find a solution.
- If you have difficulties accessing a university’s Learning Management System (LMS) (hyperlink), first contact the campus coordinator at that university. The campus coordinator can tell you which department on campus can help.
- If you have trouble with a campus email, contact that university’s technology department.
- If you have other tech troubles, contact your home institution technology department. Many universities have a round-the-clock helpdesk.
- Sometimes the next step is to contact an electronics store.
How much does the program cost?
Students pay the common price per credit hour for graduate courses or undergraduate courses at all universities, regardless of degree program or course. It is the same price for in-state and out-of-state students. The common price includes administrative fees and distance delivery costs. Books and other course materials are extra costs. An instructor may require an exam proctor. Fees for proctoring services are the responsibility of the student. The common price typically increases each fall semester.
How do I apply for financial aid?
Contact your home university financial aid office to ask financial aid questions and learn about eligibility. To qualify for federal financial aid, students must be degree-seeking and generally must be enrolled at least half time. To determine if you are eligible for federal financial aid, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
What scholarships are available to Great Plains IDEA students?
While Great Plains IDEA does not offer scholarships, our member universities may have scholarships. Your home university campus coordinator can direct you to scholarship information. Find helpful resources on our Finding Scholarships webpage (hyperlink).
Can VA benefits be used for Great Plains IDEA programs?
If you have active Veteran’s Affairs (VA) or other military benefits available, you may be able to pay for classes with these benefits. Your first stop to learn about using military benefits is your home university financial aid or military aid office. Visit the Military, Veterans & Families (hyperlink) section of our website for university contacts and additional information.
Does Great Plains IDEA accept transfer credits?
In most cases, students can petition to have credits transferred to their home university through an approval process. Most universities limit the number of transfer credits for a program, including those taken as a non-degree student. If you have credits you are interested in transferring, contact your campus coordinator (hyperlink).
Can I get academic credit for work or military experience?
Check with your home university campus coordinator (hyperlink) to find out if your home university offers credit for work or military experience.
Will my employer help me pay for tuition?
Many employers have tuition assistance for employees. Start by asking your human resources department what is available to you. If you choose to ask your boss to help pay for your classes, you can find resources on the internet to help you prepare a strong argument.
Who do I contact for information at each of the universities?
Always start with the campus coordinator (hyperlink) at the university of which you have questions.
How do I choose a home university?
Research the following to determine which university is the best fit for you:
- Requirements and timelines for admissions and graduation
- Any policy for students who stop-out due to unexpected life events but plan to return to the program after a semester or two
- The degree title printed on your diploma as determined by the home university rather than the Great Plains IDEA program
- Requirements for a culminating experience such as a final exam, master’s report, thesis, practicum or project
- Faculty research interests that might influence your decision
What is the difference between a home university and a teaching university?
Your home university is where you enroll, pay tuition and earn your degree or certificate. A teaching university is where the faculty member teaching your course is located. At times, the teaching university may be the same as your home university.
What is required for admission to one of the universities?
You apply for admission at one university, which becomes your home university. Most universities require you to complete an application, pay a fee and submit transcripts of previous college credits. Additional requirements may include GRE scores, a resume, statement of objectives and letters of recommendation. Contact the campus coordinator (hyperlink) at your home university to get the complete checklist.
How do I apply for one of the academic programs?
Admission requirements to a program vary between universities. Check specific requirements for the academic program at the university you call home. Your home university campus coordinator (hyperlink) can connect you to the right people to answer your questions.
How long does it take to get a decision on my application?
Every university approaches the application process differently. Acceptance confirmation can vary from one to six months depending on the university. It may differ if you are applying for an undergraduate or graduate degree. Once you choose a home university, ask your campus coordinator about how that university processes applications.
Do I have to be admitted to all the universities who participate in my program?
No, you only need to be admitted to your home university. Your home university is where you enroll for classes, pay tuition and earn your degree or certificate. Even though you take courses from other universities in your program, you aren’t admitted separately to each university.
How do I enroll in a course?
You enroll in courses through your home university and follow the enrollment dates set by that university. Visit the Enrollment webpage (hyperlink) for more information.
When can I start taking classes?
You can start taking classes at the beginning of any semester once you are admitted to your home university. Most member universities have two parts to the admissions process: admission to the university and admission to the program. While you must be admitted to your home university in order to take classes, you can begin taking classes while you wait to be accepted into your program.
At most universities you can apply to be admitted as a non-degree seeking student if you want to try the program. The number of credits you may complete as a non-degree student are limited. Check with your campus coordinator (hyperlink) about the university’s policies. Begin the program admission process as soon as possible.
Where can I find more information about being a student in a Great Plains IDEA program?
Each program has a student handbook filled with helpful information. All Student Handbooks (hyperlink) are located in the Student section of our website.