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What are Hybrid Courses? Should I Take a Hybrid Course?

Ana-Marcela Lopez / Abound: Grad School »

Hybrid courses have been around for a while, but have been given a new spotlight thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hybrid courses are college courses that blend in-person learning with online instructions. Typically, up to 50% of the classroom work is replaced with online work. This format is especially useful for students with work or family obligations as it allows you to create a more flexible schedule. Never taken an online course? Not sure where to begin? We can help

So what exactly is a hybrid graduate program and should you take one? If you are considering taking a hybrid graduate program, here are some questions you should ask yourself: 

  1. Are you an online learner? Despite its growing popularity, online learning has a few myths that continue to mystify students. One of the most common misconceptions is that taking courses online is easier than in-person classes. Rather than thinking one is easier than the other, it’s more appropriate to say they’re different. Online learning has its own unique set of challenges that makes it no more challenging or easier than in-person classes. Make sure you understand the expectations and have access to all the tools you need. Here are some questions to consider so you can gauge your aptitude for online learning:  
  2. Do you have the technological skills necessary to be successful? Hybrid courses require more than a computer and an internet connection. To be successful in an online course, you’ll need to be able to use whatever learning software your institution uses. Popular platforms include Canvas, Blackboard, Zoom, etc. You’ll use these to submit assignments, participate in discussion forums, and complete your exams. Your ability to use these tools is crucial. Your professor will offer some leniency, but ultimately it is on you to learn how to use the tools.  
  3. Are you able to independently manage your time? Independent time management skills are essential for success in a hybrid course. When you are learning and completing assignments online, you’ll be responsible for those deadlines.   
  4. Are you an effective written communicator? Depending on the type of hybrid course, your professor might have an online only office hours policy. If this is the case, you should make sure your emailing skills are up to snuff. You must be able to effectively communicate your needs, so you can get the help you require.  

What Do Hybrid Courses Look Like?
This will vary by intuition, but typically a hybrid course allows students to take some, if not most of their classes online. This format allows you to take advantage of the convenience of learning online, while benefiting from the practical hands-on learning of on-campus classrooms. Another misconception about online learning is that you can log on and complete assignments whenever you please. While hybrid courses offer a great deal of flexibility, not all hybrid courses allow you to go completely at your own pace. Check to see whether your course is synchronous or asynchronous.


  • Synchronous: Synchronous online learning refers to virtual lectures and discussion boards that require participation at determined times. These courses follow a similar structure to an on-campus course, so there is less flexibility in the times at which you study. However, these courses can be beneficial for those who struggle with time management or crave a more collaborative learning environment. 
  •  Asynchronous: Asynchronous courses do not follow a set schedule, so they allow students to complete the coursework at their own pace. Students with unconventional schedules or family and work obligations may benefit from self-paced learning. 


  • Freedom: If you are in an asynchronous course,  you can generally review lectures at your own pace on an as needed basis. You have the freedom to decide when you complete coursework, as long as you abide by certain deadlines, of course. 
  • Accessibility: Course material is accessible at your fingertips. Some hybrid courses will have a library of pre-recorded lectures, so you can always access the material. 
  • Flexibility: The advantages of this option are fewer visits to campus, more flexibility to manage your priorities, and the opportunity to meet in-person to hone your skills.This allows you to learn while also balancing other life obligations. 
  • Efficiency: Hybrid learning provides the benefits of in-person learning without the material commitment of being fully in-person.


  • Less contact with professors and peers: If you are an engaged learner that thrives on direct communication with your professor and peers, you likely won’t find the online discussion boards as valuable. Don’t let this discourage you entirely! Communicate your needs to your professors. They might be able to offer you in-person office hours. 
  • Different learning style: If you rely on non-verbal cues to deliver meaning, it may be a challenge to learn. Additionally, if you benefit from having a more hands-on approach from instructors, then the online learning format might not be the best approach. And that’s okay! You should always prioritize your best learning strategy above all else. 

Hybrid courses are a great option for those looking to dip their toes into online learning. Once dipped, and the mystification of “online classes are easier because they’re not in the classroom” subsides, a hybrid course could become the gateway to future independence. Thinking about Grad school? Abound:Grad is here to connect you with schools that adhere to our Four As: Affordability, Accessibility, Acceleration, and Advancement. Take a look at the schools we trust and find an online graduate program that’s right for you.

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