An innovative online master’s programme in project and programme management at the University of Limerick had its first set of graduates this week. The programme, which was launched in September 2011 by the Centre for Project Management, is the first fully online MSc in project management course to be offered through an Irish University. On Jan 21st the first 22 graduates were conferred at a ceremony in UL. And because the programme was 100% online, many of the students were meeting their tutors and fellow students in person for the first time at the graduation ceremony.

“Online learning is an excellent way for universities to reach out to professionals that want to further their careers through education” says John Kelly, Director of the Centre for Project Management (CPM). “The MSc in Project and Programme Management now has over 60 online learners, studying part time while holding down busy schedules at work and at home. “Our teaching philosophy recognises the central role of the adult learner in the learning process – and makes use of the latest technologies to enable students to engage and interact , sharing experiences and learning together”. The online masters in project management offers flexibility to accommodate part-time learners that are working full time, and gives them 24/7 access through a state-of-the-art learner management system. It’s a model that gives students what they need when they need it.

The graduates from the online programme included people from as far afield as Canada, Saudi Arabia, and the United States of America. “We were delighted to welcome many of them to the UL campus for the first time” said John Kelly. “Through them we have built up a global network of project and programme managers, working in sectors as diverse as IT, oil and gas exploration, pharmaceuticals and construction.”

“Overall the program is challenging from both a time management and coursework point of view but I found it a very beneficial learning experience” said Neil Mahon, who flew in from Toronto Canada to accept his degree award.. “It offers a flexibility that allows someone like me to fit it in with my weekly routine. The material is easily accessible, and the innovative use of collaborative technologies makes it all run very smoothly.”

Another of the graduates, Yvonne King who works with Dell in Limerick noted that the ability to interact online with peers as well as experienced tutors was very beneficial. “It removes the need to get to and from an on-campus classroom, while still having top quality academic support”.

Access to the latest technology has given the programme global reach, and brings new dimensions and quality to the learning. The CPM currently has students located in over 15 different countries, from different cultural backgrounds and in different time zones. “This creates an exciting and vibrant international learning community” says John Kelly.

The success of UL’s MSc in Project and Programme Management has paved the way for future online programmes at the university. “Online education offers exciting prospects for executive education” says Philip O’Regan, Dean of UL’s Kemmy Business School. “Through the Centre for Project Management we have developed a model that works and I believe can be applied to other areas. I really look forward to seeing more online students at the University in the years to come.”

MSc in Project and Programme Management Graduating Class, January 2013

MSc in Project and Programme Management Graduating Class, January 2013

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