Friday, February 4, 2011

Spooky learning at a distance

The other day, I was wandering around the internet, and I came across the University of Florida's pharmaceutical chemistry online master's program. From the associated literature:
Enroll in a Master's of Science Degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Florida, College of Pharmacy! Join a growing number of scientists who are receiving their graduate science degrees from the University of Florida's prestigious online programs.

Pharmaceutical Chemistry - Educated Inspiration

• Master a challenging field of science
• Prepare for or enhance a career in pharmaceutical innovation and regulation
• Contribute to life saving remedies and enhance the speed of delivery of new medications
• Translate your personal experiences to benefit others
What to say about this? I am sure that someday, the University of Florida will have an online master's program that's really worthy of spending serious money on. But for now, a master's degree in chemistry at most United States universities is free. They pay you, you don't pay them. While there are all sorts of things to be said about the hooks in the system, the chance to walk away from school free of student loans is valuable.

Also, they're really overselling the employability of this degree. Would any hiring manager look at this degree as being equivalent to one having been done in the traditional fashion at Florida State or UGA or any equivalent public university? I doubt it.

Readers, I think I'm right, but maybe I'm wrong. What do you think?


  1. Going out on a limb, perhaps this program is tailored to those who don't want to do lab work in Pharma. Isn't Pfizer looking for "Designer Chemists"?

  2. Looks like a typical university scam. That's one of the big problems with this education economy crap.

  3. If Tim Tebow endorsed it, I'm sold.

  4. I recently read an article outlining how bad Florida students are at science compared to the rest of the country and when I tried to find a link to the article on the Central Florida STEM Council page this message came up:

    "It appears you've had a problem loginning in."

    Here's the article.

    So maybe avoid Florida schools altogether for science degrees?

  5. I think it's geared for those who want to be your local Walgreens pill counter. (ie retail pharmacy.)

  6. If so, why are you discovering new cures and remedies?

  7. I disagree, it's geared to the institutions that want to make a buck off the unforgivable student loan debts.

  8. I don't know how the program works, but would this be geared toward people who already have jobs and want to get an MS degree at night? I knew some people who had BS degrees in chemistry and got their MS degrees (from regular schools) at night, and it was very difficult just because of logistical issues of getting to the school in the evenings, especially when you're working 40-50 miles from the school.

    This program may not be the best one, but I think there should be online programs in chemistry - both for people who want to get a degree and for people who just want to take a few courses. This is especially true if you want to retrain for other areas of chemistry. MS programs may be free but they also require you to go to class during the day (and many times also in the evenings and/or weekends). Difficult if you have a family, a job, other obligations. (The issue of lab work is another question, since you can't do that online, but the classroom part ought to be offered online.)

  9. That's the GATOR NATION, I know and love.

    I'm pretty certain this is from one of the departments "down the hill"

    i.e. Health Science,Pharmacy, Microbiology or Shands Hospital.

    The real chemistry department where I went is across from the Swamp restaurant and 3 blocks away from the real SWAMP.

    Just's the idiots down the hill associated with the hospital.

  10. "...unforgivable student loan debts."

    Ah yes, the crux of it all...

  11. Tumbler, I hope you aren't being sarcastic. I can see a dozen part time ball busting ambitious managers at chick fillet scrambling for the opportunity of a better shake in life who see "pharmaceutical" "masters degree" and "drug discovery" and would be more than happy to sign up for yet another private loan for simply the prayer to get a better shot.

  12. You already need a science degree to get accepted. I doubt there are a dozen chick filet managers scrambling for this degree.

  13. I'm part of this program and the material is no "cake walk", and they use several tools to adequately "compensate" for anything potentially lacking due to the inherent nature of distance learning (with a possible exception for benchwork which most students already have in spades given that most of them are currently working in the industry---and which others already have from undergraduate or additional studies).

    As to certain employers not viewing this degree as having the prestige of a "live" program---screw 'em. Any employer in today's world that automatically, totally discounts an on-line degree is an inflexible dinosaur (with a higher likelihood of failing) that I likely wouldn't care to make a career with anyway. While they are certainly free to question the sufficiency of a particular individual's preparedness (as they would any job candidate), and while the school has certainly adapted to find new ways to raise some revenue in this more interconnected world; this particular degree is sound, and anyone completing it should be viewed as being self-disciplined enough to complete a major project without much prodding/nursing.

    I do not believe the school is overselling the usefulness of this degree. No one has promised me I'll be able to secure a golden ticket at the end of my studies. However, they likely do not want to advertise in big letters that the U.S. medicinal chemistry market is likely oversaturated in the short term with very skilled people. No problem, it will be a couple of years before I enter that market with extensive chemical/biology/pharmaceutical knowledge.

    1. Anon, if you're interested in talking about this (and you clearly are), I encourage you to e-mail me at chemjobber -at- gmail/dot/com. I'm specifically interested in what your tuition costs are and why you chose this program over a more traditional one.

    2. Hello Anon
      I have taken 2 classes, and am taking one this semester as a non degree student. I want to ask you a couple of questions before I decide to pursue this program to the finish. My email is ac80399 -at- gmail/dot/com.

  14. High interesting in improving relatively strong undergraduate biology/chemistry skills, flexibility in performing coursework, good portion of tuition (about 60%) paid by third party, prestige of college in pharmacy provides some additional assurance of legitimacy, nibbled on the program a few years ago and liked it so much I came back to it when my schedule permitted, greatly enhances my already existing job skills with a Masters degree that is practically a prerequisite to re-enter my previous job field. Have decided to remain in program in part due to proven technical skills of particular instructor.