Course Experience

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Starting an Online Course at USD


All USD online courses are administered through the USD Blackboard portal. When you begin your program of study, you will log in to this portal to find all the information you will need to successfully complete the course such as announcements, the syllabus, the course calendar, course materials, assignments, and exams.

Announcements Example In Blackboard

Learning Modules

The “Learning Modules” section is where you will find most of the course information. Throughout the course, you will also be able to access the online library, a digital record of your grades, your course contacts, and discussion forums.

Logging in

Most USD master’s degree programs begin their school week on a Tuesday. You can log in at any time of day to view the presentation that the professor has prepared and locate that week’s assignments.

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Accessing & Completing Coursework


As an online student, the program structure allows you to complete coursework at your own pace, when you are able, if you meet weekly assignment deadlines. Assignments are typically due every Monday, which gives you the weekend to work on coursework that you may not have finished earlier in the week.

Assignment Example in Blackboard

Asynchronous Learning

The program is designed with a “working adult” schedule in mind. Students are set up to be able to balance their academic coursework while being able to work full-time, take care of family, etc.


The following week’s lesson is typically posted three days prior to the start of the week. If you can complete your assignments early, you can get a head start on the assignments for the week ahead.

Class Format

Coursework, quizzes, and presentations are delivered via multiple formats including interactive technology such as video conferencing. The use of interactive technology is especially beneficial in an online course as it gives students and instructors the ability to communicate and collaborate in a dynamic format.

Communicating with Students & Faculty


As an online student, you will find that help is available every step of the way. If you have questions or comments, you can contact your instructor through the instructor discussion forum or via email. In most cases, you will receive a response typically within 24 hours, often times less. You are also welcome to connect with your fellow students in the student lounge.

Discussion Forum Example in Blackboard

Group Discussions

Group discussions are an important part of all online programs at USD. While course requirements vary by program, students are typically required to post a minimum number of comments in each discussion thread each week. Discussion boards not only encourage engagement but also facilitate conversations that might not otherwise occur in a traditional classroom. The course instructor will be present and actively participate in the discussion board several times a week to help propel the conversation, promote critical thinking and answer student questions.

Discussion Forum

The discussion component of each course gives you the opportunity to connect with and learn from other students–and your professors–in a virtual setting and is often cited as one of the highlights of USD’s program. In the discussion forum, you will share ideas and experiences with other professionals from across the nation who are enrolled in the course with you. This peer-to-peer learning is an invaluable part of your USD online education.