Format, Quality Among Reasons Grad Students Choose OU Extended Campus

Format, Quality Among Reasons Grad Students Choose OU Extended Campus

When it comes to choosing a graduate school, many OU Extended Campus alumni don’t stray far from their roots. 

Whether it’s convenience, affordability, reputation or just the right fit, a number of students pursuing OU Extended Campus graduate degrees chose OU because they earned a bachelor’s degree here first.

According to OU Extended Campus data analyst Aaron Jones, about 12% of students earning an OU Extended Campus bachelor’s degree go on to pursue graduate classes through OU Extended Campus.

“Students seem to enjoy the ability to access an OU degree from anywhere in the world, and our online format accommodates many of the demands which are unique to adult students." - Lindsey Gunderson, Advisor

Stephanie Odparlik graduated from OU in May of 2019. As an OU employee, she knew she wanted an OU degree. Now she’s making it two.

“It’s so nice to be able to do my assignments on my time – my lunch break, evening or weekend – and not have to be somewhere at a certain time,” Odparlik said. “I loved this freedom in my undergrad, so I chose it for my graduate school, too. Plus, an OU degree means more on a resume than some fly by night school.”

Lindsey Gunderson, OU Extended Campus graduate advisor, said she counsels many students who never considered an advanced degree until they experienced success in an OU Extended Campus bachelor’s program.

“Sometimes, once they’ve gotten into the rhythm of courses and used to the balance of school/work/family life, they don’t want to delay graduate school if the desire is there,” Gunderson said.

Gunderson said reputation and national rankings play a role in selection (OU Extended Campus online programs have earned top 10 recognition in U.S. News & World Report for the past four years), but the ease of access is also a main reason students stay at OU.

“Students seem to enjoy the ability to access an OU degree from anywhere in the world, and our online format accommodates many of the demands which are unique to adult students,” Gunderson said. “They are parents and caregivers, full-time workers, and members of the armed forces. The ability to log on and do work at their own convenience rather than having to attend traditional classes on campus for weekly meetings makes attaining an advanced degree possible, even with a busy schedule.”

Stephen Therrien said he researched several graduate schools after earning an OU Extended Campus liberal studies degree in 2016.

“The following year, I retired from active duty and began my civilian career in logistics/project management,” Therrien said. “The company I work for provides tuition for graduate school. I looked at many schools, but none seemed right. I came across a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from OU, and it fit my needs as a project manager.”

Jennifer Monti began the OU Extended Campus Museum Studies program due to its online flexibility and reputation.

“I decided on OU for my master’s degree in museum studies, because I’m 39 and have two kids,” Monti said. “It’s made for those like myself who want to continue their education but going to campus every day just doesn’t work out. This program was highly recommended to me by many people in the museum field.”

Gunderson said while she sees U.S. News & World Report rankings referenced often in an applicant’s statement of purpose, the ultimate reason students choose OU Extended Campus is due to its ongoing commitment to offer the best programs possible.

“Our administrators and lead faculty strive to deliver carefully planned top programs by designing meaningful and innovative curriculum, and employing top professionals in their respective fields as professors,” she said. “We work hard to maintain or exceed our rankings. I think this, combined with OU’s recognition as an institution, strong tradition and the ability to access content from anywhere at any time are prime factors in the decision to attend graduate school at OU Extended Campus.”

Are you a current student considering a graduate program at OU Extended Campus? Reach out to an advisor to see which program might be right for you. To learn more about undergraduate and graduate degrees offered by OU Extended Campus, visit

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Tami Althoff

Tami Althoff holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a reporter with more than 20 years’ experience working for newspapers, including The Oklahoman. She has covered everything from breaking news to local music and art. She loves sports, especially OU football and basketball games, where she often embarrasses her children by yelling too loudly.