Display Accessibility Tools

Accessibility Tools


Highlight Links

Change Contrast

Increase Text Size

Increase Letter Spacing

Readability Bar

Dyslexia Friendly Font

Increase Cursor Size

FAQ - Online MS Programs

  1. How much do the online MS programs and Certificate programs cost?
  2. Is financial aid available?
  3. How long will it take to complete the program?
  4. Can I transfer in any previously taken courses?
  5. Can I take classes part-time?
  6. I've been out of school for a while; will I be able to handle the material?
  7. How do i know if my computer system will work with MSU's online learning system?
  8. I travel a lot; will I still be able to keep up with the course?
  9. How does an online class work? What's it like to be an online student?
  10. How will I talk to my instructor? Turn in assignments? Use the library? Take tests?
  11. How much time per week do students typically spend on a class?
  12. Do I have to log on at a particular time?
  13. What can I expect from my instructor?
  14. What do online instructors expect from students?
  15. Why do I need to take non-science electives for the MS in Integrative Pharm program?
  16. I do not have a strong science educational background, but I have worked in a lab. Is there a way I could leverage my work experience for admission into the  MS in Integrative Pharmacology program?
  17. Is there a way that I can take a class right away, even though I haven't been accepted?
  18. I'm ready to enroll. How do I start the application process?
  19. Do I have to own a computer to enroll in an online class?
  20. Do you have any tips for online students?
  21. Who do I contact to find out more information?


1.) Current tuition rates for our program offerings can be found at the MSU controller's website. Lifelong education students enroll at the standard Lifelong Graduate Education rate.

[return to top]

Financial Aid

2.) Start at the MSU Office of Financial Aid website where you can begin by completing the FAFSA application. Currently there are no assistantship positions available for Online Masters students. We are very willing to work with employers who offer tuition reimbursement or other education benefits to their employees. You should also consider applying for government education grants and loans and perhaps private loans.

[return to top]

Program Completion

3.) Both MS degrees are designed to accommodate full-time and part-time students. To complete all course requirements, the program will take a minimum of 1 1/2 years, but most people complete the program in 2 – 2.5 years. The College of Osteopathic Medicine requires that the MS programs be completed within 6 years.

[return to top]

Transfer credits

4.) MSU allows up to 9 credits from other institutions or Lifelong Education classes, to be transferred into a program, providing those courses support the educational objectives of the program. The Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology is strongly committed to maintaining the integrity of the Masters programs. However, alternative courses will be considered for transfer credit on a case-by-case basis. Contact the Student office (phm@msu.edu) for information on how to proceed.

[return to top]


5.) Absolutely, and most students do. The online MS programs were designed for busy working adults. There are no requirements for how many courses or credits to take per semester or per year. The online format makes it possible for you to juggle your other responsibilities. Class material can be accessed 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. Generally, classes have weekly reading assignments, but you may also need to access online material several times per week.

[return to top]

Course Material and Content

6.) MSU has plenty of non-traditional students who are successfully working towards advanced degrees. You may feel a bit rusty because you have been out of school for awhile, but you may find that you've also gained knowlege and skills while working that give you considerable advantage over the less-experienced student.

Our student office can best help you decide whether you're are ready to dive into the program based upon your background and at what level of commitment (full-time, part-time, or intermittent). We can also point you to some review materials and online practices that will make you feel more comfortable.

Masters level courses assume a higher level of responsibility than undergraduate courses. Because courses are online without strict attendance requirements, much of your success will depend upon your personal self-discipline. Time management skills are absolutely necessary for success.

Ask yourself: How well do I manage my time? Does my home and/or work environment offer a time & place to conduct my studies (online work, independent reading, uninterrupted test-taking)?

[return to top]

Computer compatibility

7.) Please refer to the following information resources for system information:

The link above will automatically check the computer you are on, and will note any deficiencies in your current computer setup – and you can contact the help desk for assistance in bringing your system up to the necessary specifications (if necessary).

  • You may also contact the D2L helpdesk directly at: https://d2l.msu.edu/
  • Additionally, the online MS programs make use of:
  • Flash animations
  • Audio files (must have working computer speakers and/or headphones)
  • Video clips

It’s likely your equipment and system settings will meet most or all of the requirements. As a rule, you'll have a chance to move around in the D2L system and check out a typical course to see what it is like, before courses begin.

[return to top]

Keeping Up

8.) An online class can provide much more flexibility than traditional classes for people who travel frequently, IF you are able to regularly connect to the course instructor and online materials. The best plan is to contact the course instructor and provide them with your schedule / itinerary (as far in advance as possible) to see if your travel will interfere with course completion parameters, and what options may be available to reduce any effects on your studies.

[return to top]

Hows does an online class work?

9.) Online classes are different from face-to-face classes in that you do not sit in the same room at the same time with your classmates and instructor. Instead, you participate in online discussions or other written communication. Your instructor will make course materials and assignments available using web pages, the bulletin boards, and announcements.

You may feel frustrated or limited by primarily written communication; or you may actually enjoy having time to thoughtfully consider a question before responding. Some people actually feel more comfortable asking questions, giving their opinions in writing and building online relationships.

You may struggle to find time to do your class assignments because you don't have anyone to directly work alongside; or you may feel relieved with all the time you save by not having to struggle with traffic, find a babysitter, or leave work early for class.

Most people entering a new program, can expect to experience a transition period. It can take a few weeks to learn how the course works and each course is a little different.

[return to top]

Interaction with your instructor

10.) The course instructor will provide you with direction, assignments, and feedback posted on webpages within the D2L course management system or occasionally through emails.

You will often be able to get information and answers to your questions directly from the D2L site (i.e. grades are available online, announcementes are made within the course website or by email). You can also call or email your instructor. Just as with face-to-face classes, you will be able to connect with classmates to improve your study effectiveness, but instead of meeting over coffee, you might talk through email, chat, telephone, or discussion forums.

The format of homework assignments will vary depending upon the instructor's style and the subject matter. You might be asked to e-mail or upload your work such as a paper or problem set, answer questions in an online quiz, read an online publication from your textbook, or participate in a web-based discussion.

Textbook information is available here on our website, under the course profile. You will do research online using MSU's online library system and/or through your local library. Some students prefer to print most of their online reading. Be advised however, that some materials are not well-suited to printing. Online exams can take the form of multiple-choice, True/False, short-answer, and essay questions (or any combination of these).

[return to top]

How much time per week?

11.) You should plan to spend at least the same amount of time you would spend for a face-to-face class. Each course is different and each student has a different background and different educational goals which will affect how much time is required.

You should plan to spend at least 3 hours every week per credit hour. For a 2 credit masters level course, you could reasonably expect to spend 6-10 hours per week reading, writing a paper, practicing problem sets, taking a quiz, discussing assigned topics with classmates through an online discussion forum, chat, or email, etc. You may find some classes do not require as much time.

Remember, you will not be spending time listening to an instructor in the classroom. Instead, you will be responsible for actively accessing course content during the semester. As an online student, you are equally responsible for your learning.

A good rule of thumb to remember: you get out of a class what you put into it.

[return to top]

Logon at a particular time

12.) Not typically, although there may be an occasion where a topic encourages live group discussion. It may be offered as a voluntary activity or extra credit. You will have deadlines for posting your assignments, quizzes, etc., but how you schedule your time to meet the deadlines is up to you.

It’s strongly advised to set up a daily schedule, in order to avoid being overwhelmed at the end of the week.

[return to top]

What you can expect from your instructor

13.) Your teacher will do all the things a teacher does in a traditional class. You can expect:

  • A syllabus and course schedule
  • Assignments with clear instructions, objectives, and timely feedback
  • Prompt responses to questions
  • Clear guidelines about how long it will take to get homework and quiz scores.

You should NOT expect:

  • 24/7 support; it may take a few working days to get responses to questions
  • Help with prerequisite skills
  • Help troubleshooting technical problems - that is provided by the learning management system's helpdesk
  • Help with administrative issues (overrides, drops, financial aid inquires) – contact our student office for those questions

[return to top]

Instructor expectations

14.) Like face-to-face students, you will be expected to participate in the class with courtesy and consideration for others even though communications will be through E-mails and web postings.

You will be expected to adhere to academic standards regarding work quality, honesty, and plagiarism, particularly as this is a graduate program. Do not submit work from another class or recycle material. Do your own work, whether it is a written paper or an online exam.

It is a violation of college policy to plagiarize or to recycle work. Do not incorporate other people's materials into your own without proper citations.

[return to top]


15.) The Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology consulted with many pharmaceutical industry employers prior to initiating the MS programs. Although technical science knowledge and traditional research skills are important, highly productive team members have broader capabilities. The MS in Integrative Pharmacology is designed for the industry professional. To succeed in the fast-paced world of biomedical research and pharmaceutical development, employers are looking for people who understand team-building and project management principles, have well-developed communication skills, and the ability to take the lead when necessary.

[return to top]

Leverage work experience?

16.) You should contact the Program Director for guidance on what courses you should take to prepare you for the Online MS programs. It is possible that some courses may fall within the program requirements or that you can prepare through independent study.

[return to top]

Taking a class right away

17.) Yes. Students may enroll in individual courses for the program under the Lifelong Education status. The application can be accessed online

Feel free to call our office for assistance: 517-884-0409

Following acceptance as a Lifelong Education student, non-Pharmacology/Toxicology students must first receive a Departmental override to register for courses by providing the following information to the Academic Office via email at phm@msu.edu – (Name, PID number, course number(s)).

Note: Lifelong Education students are not guaranteed acceptance into the MS programs. However, successful completion of required and elective courses will be considered. According to university policy, only nine (9) credits of lifelong education can be transferred into a graduate program.

[return to top]

How do I start?

18.) You can request to have an application information packet emailed to you by contacting our Student Office at phm@msu.edu or by calling (517) 884-0409. You can also access the application online via our web site.

PLEASE NOTE: The program code for the Online MS in Integrative Pharmacology is 4216. The program code for the Online MS of Science in Pharmacology and Toxicology is 4176.

[return to top]

Do I have to own a computer?

19.) Strictly speaking, no. But you must have easy access to a computer with reliable internet access throughout the semester. You can access computers on campus in several locations (such as the Learning Resource Center and computer labs, for example). Some students complete online classes from work (having arranged this beforehand with their employer, of course), public libraries, or friends’ houses.

[return to top]

Tips for online students

20.) Keep up with the class and make it a top priority. The biggest problem online students have is gradually falling behind.

Schedule time several days a week to focus on each class. Studies have shown that small amounts of studying are more effective than single cram sessions. Without a scheduled face-to-face meeting time, online students can be easily distracted by parenting responsibilities, hobbies, work deadlines, and household cleaning and maintenance. Write session times in your calendar just as you would for an on-campus class, and make sure you have a quiet place to work. Do assignments BEFORE the due date. It may take a few days to get help.

Procrastinating with an online class is riskier than a face-to-face class because you must expect technical glitches such as power outages, computer hardware & software mishaps, lost disks & corrupted files, slow or entirely broken Internet connection.

Have a back-up plan in case of technical problems. Ask yourself, "Where will I work if my home computer breaks and it takes me a few days to get back online?" Communicate! We expect you to bring a bit of your own experience and expertise to the program. Ask questions! Your teacher can't see if you are engaged and "getting it." You must be willing to speak up. Ask if you are not clear about instructions, due dates, or our progress. Work with a small group, either in person or via phone or e-mail.

We suggest you also review these resources.

[return to top]


21.) Program contacts:

[return to top]