Frequently Asked Questions


How does online learning work at SPD?
The online programs and courses delivered in the Blackboard as a part of the SPD program offerings are conducted via the online environment and mostly in an asynchronous format.  Asynchronous means that you can log in at different times and from different places for each week of the course in order to participate in discussion forums, complete assignments and interact with your colleagues and instructor.  
Are there additional academic guidelines that apply for online students?
  Guidelines for Online Classes

Students have the right to express themselves and participate freely in an online class. However, they are expected to treat each other and the instructor with courtesy and respect. In accordance with the University’s Student Conduct Code, offensive or inappropriate language is prohibited in any form of communication e.g., emails, discussion postings, group projects, submitted assignments. (See, University Student Conduct Code Section III.A.1.a)  Violation of the Student Conduct Code will be referred to University Community Standards for appropriate action.  The goal is to build a safe community without a fear of being criticized or chastised for sharing an opinion.

The discussion area of the course is reserved for postings related to course work only. Postings of a personal or nonacademic nature are not permitted and may be removed by the instructor should they appear and also may result in a grade of “0” for that assignment. Grades and personal issues should be handled by emailing the instructor directly using only the University email and not posted in public forums.

All other academic policies can be found in the Graduate Bulletin.

Net-Etiquette Guidelines

The following guidelines for participation in the Threaded Discussion Area and Chat rooms.

  • Remember that the absence of face-to-face communication it's easy to misunderstand what is being said;
  • Carefully review and read materials that you receive electronically to ensure that you fully understand the message;
  • Be sure to carefully re-read and understand what you will be sending in order to ensure that you are not misunderstood by anyone;
  • Avoid cluttering your messages with excessive emphasis (stars, arrows, exclamations);
  •  If you are responding to a message, either include the relevant part of the original message in your message, or make sure refer to the original's contents so as to avoid confusion;
  • Be specific and clear, especially when asking questions;
  • If your messages can be typed in UPPER and lower case, please use the two appropriately instead of all UPPERCASE characters. This gives the appearance of shouting and makes the message less readable;
  • Remember that not all readers have English as their native language, so make allowance for possible misunderstandings and unintended discourtesies;
  • Do not abuse new users of computer networks for their lack of knowledge;
  • Follow the same standards of politeness as you do in any other aspect of your life.

Student Readiness

What does it take to be a successful online student?
  Be Prepared:
  • Be sure to attend the new student orientation webinar as a part of your program to get oriented with program-specific policies, interact with program leaders and faculty, and learn about valuable resources for assistance and where to find it.
  • Check technology requirements and your own aptitude before participating in course activities.
  • Communicate with your instructor, program leaders and staff if you have any problem or difficulties in completing your requirements and do not wait until the last moment to discuss potential issues that may be having.
  • Be mindful of all academic and student conduct policies including plagiarism, ethical behavior and conduct, and etiquette guidelines.

Be Organized:

  • Be prepared to work as hard in online courses as you would onsite (face-to-face) courses. Student taking online classes spend on average 10 to 15 hours doing coursework and completing readings and assignments.  Remember that these are graduate-level courses and may require extra time for projects, exams, group activities and other assessments.
  • Be organized, have the motivation to work independently, and be a self-starter. Schedule to spend time on completing required activities each week such as course work, project, homework assignments and exams.
  • Read and syllabus for each course be proactive in remembering due-dates and deadlines yourself.

  Be Engaged:

  • Check in frequently with your course site in Blackboard. Instructors may post regularly directly within the course site or email the class directly with updates.  It is important to log in at least once every 24 hours in order to participate in course activities and provide feedback on colleagues’/instructor’s posts and discussions.
  • Check your Stony Brook University email frequently; at least once per day and use this email for all course-related communications with faculty and staff.
  • Be active by completing all readings and assignments each week and be mindful of all due-dates and deadlines.
  • Participate in discussion forums and be “present” in the course and put in the time needed to complete all course activities.
  • Online courses run for 10-weeks each semester, so if you are taking multiple courses each term, think about a strategy on how you will complete all course requirements.
  • Plan to fully participate and engage to learn course concepts and topics.
How do I know if I am ready, for online learning?
Succeeding in an online program takes commitment, certain skills and a supportive environment. The Open SUNY Readiness Guide can help prepare you for success in your online courses.  Here, you can check your computer skills and competencies, try a demo course, and even test your online readiness by taking a 15 minute survey. 

To find out if you are ready, go to  Open SUNY.

What are the technical requirements?
You will be required to have access to the Internet. You are responsible for having a reliable computer and Internet connection throughout the courses. You will need to have access to, and be able to use the following software packages:

A complete list of supported browsers and operating systems can be found on the  Blackboard website

The Office of E-learning is available to provide technical support with issues relating to the course software and user accounts only. If you are having problems with your home computer or Internet Service Provider, you are responsible for finding a solution.

Enrollment Information

When do classes begin?

Fall 2017 courses begin on August 28.

SPD's online classes will be available on Blackboard two weeks prior to the start of the term. 

For more information about the academic calendar please visit the Office of the Registrar.

How do I enroll?
If you are currently a matriculated SPD student or have submitted a non-matriculated graduate student application, you can register for SPD's online courses as you would any face-to-face course (through the  SOLAR System). There are no special forms or permission required. As these courses are in high demand, early registration is recommended. 

Please note that because the workload is condensed into  10 weeks for SPD's online courses, there are recommended limits as to the number of online courses a student may take per semester. They are as follows:

• New online students are encouraged to enroll in only one online course per term
• Returning online students are encouraged to limit their enrollment to two courses per term

How do I use the automatic waitlist?
If an online course is closed, students have the option of placing themselves on a waitlist for the course (if there is space available). Students who enroll in the waitlist will automatically be enrolled in the course as new vacancies arise and  their  accounts will be charged accordingly. In the event that a waitlist reaches capacity, SPD will consider opening an additional section of the course. In this instance, waitlisted students would be automatically enrolled into the new section.

Students who are enrolled from the waitlist will receive an email from SOLAR to their  Stony Brook email account. They can also check on their waitlist status at any time by logging into SOLAR.

For instructions and policy information, please be sure to read the guidelines for using the waitlist (on the SOLAR website)  before you enroll.

I have already registered, now what do I do?
About two weeks prior to the start of class, your courses will be available in Blackboard. Students should log into Blackboard and review the course information. » Instructions for logging into Blackboard.

Once you log on to the web address, you’ll see your course(s) as well as a link to the "SPD Online Support " Be sure to visit this "course," as it contains all the information you need to get started, as well as specific academic policies and procedures for SPD Online students that differ somewhat from those that apply to face-to-face students.

Also, be sure to start checking your  Stony Brook email account, which you can access with your NetID.


How do I access library materials?
The library subscribes to 60,000 journals, which are accessible to all students via the library's website. Distance learning students who live more than 50 miles from campus may also request to have hard copy material shipped by mail. Please check out our  School of Professional Development Library Guide for online resources specific to our programs and the Library's  Distance Learning webpage for details on having items sent to you.
Where can I find more resources?

 Here is a collection of useful offices and resources for online students:

Department of Information Technology (DoIT):

Bursar: For help with billing and payment.

Counseling and Psychological Services: CAPS staff are available by phone, day or night.

Disability Support Services: Students in need of special accommodations should contact DSS.

Library: Access to online databases, electronic journals, eBooks, and more!

Registrar: Having a registration issue? Let us know.

Writing Center: Students are able to schedule face-to-face and online appointments.

Where can I go for help if I have questions about my online experience?
Students in online programs encountering a problem or grievance about University services should always attempt to resolve the problem with the program director or the student services professional of the specific program.

In the event that a student complaint cannot be resolved through the program, the student may contact the office of the Dean of Students and/or the Associate Provost for Online Education at


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