Online Graduate Student Work Expectations

Definition of an Online Adler University Graduate Student

Graduate students at Adler University come from a myriad of backgrounds and life experiences and are working toward a common goal – to become a socially just practitioner who creates a more equitable and just society for us to all live and work. Adler University graduate students will, therefore, have many roles during their tenure, such as student, activist, researcher, engaged scholar, but most importantly, a responsible citizen.

Progress Toward Degree

Graduate students are expected to take primary responsibility in informing themselves of the University's policies and procedures, specific program requirements, and standards of performance that are outlined by the faculty. It is therefore strongly encouraged that students take the initiative to ask questions that will promote their understanding of the academic requirements of their specific graduate program.

To ensure substantial progress toward the completion of one’s degree requirements, the student should be intrinsically motivated and devote an appropriate amount of time and energy toward achieving academic excellence.

Students are expected to actively work and participate in their courses for 10-15 hours per week, per course. Time commitment and motivation are necessary elements to be a successful graduate student.

Working Collaboratively

At Adler University, the academic experience is a partnership of mutual respect where students work closely with faculty to acquire the skills needed to address complex social issues. Students should expect their faculty to infuse academic rigor, encourage freedom of inquiry, and practice personal and professional integrity.

Students taking online courses should engage with the content, peers, and instructors regularly and openly as students in a traditional on-ground course might. Graduate level work includes working collaboratively with peers in and out of the course, fostering community with peers, and engaging in group and student led facilitation. Student engagement is key to being a successful online student. Engaged graduate students are actively involved with their learning communities. For example, engaged students treat discussions as an opportunity to form an academic community and deeply discuss course topics, rather than merely a requirement. Engaged students understand the importance of communicating with their instructors, they acknowledge and respond to instructor feedback and reach out to peers for assistance.

Discussions & Activities

Discussion posts and responses should show evidence of critical thinking and include thoughtful insight. All thoughts and ideas presented in a discussion should be backed by a minimum of one credible, current, and balanced resource. Posts that do not include these elements would be considered poorly constructed and be graded as such. Before beginning each discussion post and response students should review the discussion rubric to ensure the post meets all criteria.

When students submit work for non-discussion activities including but not limited to presentations, written work, audio, and videos and so on students should check their documents prior to submitting them for readability and coherence. This is particularly necessary for written activities such as papers and reflections. Prior to submitting work or posting to a discussion; students should proofread and check for spelling and grammar mistakes. Students may utilize the tools and resources provided by Adler University to ensure proper grammar and spelling. These tools currently include:

Instructors will offer feedback on submitted work. Make sure to check the feedback and incorporate this feedback into future submissions. In some courses, the instructor may ask you to respond to the feedback.

Critical Thinking

Students are expected to engage in critical thinking throughout their time at Adler. Student work should show evidence of critical thinking in all activity submissions. Practicing critical thinking involves going beyond referencing a thought or idea found in a resource. It involves looking for context clues and pieces of information that may connect to current cultural and social issues. Displaying critical thinking skills shows an ability to make connections with current and previous course resources as well as those not included in the course, lived experiences, current events, and so on.

APA & Research

Graduate students are expected to use proper APA citations, style, and guidelines in all written work throughout their career at Adler. Students should consult the most recent version of the APA handbook and use provided resources to assist them in research work. While the number of resources students are expected to cite in assignments may vary, if no specific number is mentioned, there should be a minimum of one resource cited in all informal activities such as discussions. Further, resources should be current, credible, and balanced. Students are also expected to take the initiative in locating resources and seeking support from the Adler library in accessing resources as needed.

Rubrics & Grading

Students are graded on all assignments using rubrics. Students should review rubrics prior to beginning their work to understand the expectations associated with any particular assignment and then again when their grade is posted in order to understand the grade they earned.

Although grades are relevant to issues such as academic status and financial aid, graduate education is less about grades and more about competency. Grades in graduate school exist to provide an objective measure that can showcase proficiency and indicate where improvement is needed. Instead of thinking about success in terms of letter grades in a graduate program, students should focus more closely on learning objectives and gaining competency in selected areas of expertise. Unlike undergraduate education where a high grade can result from following directions, graduate work must contain evidence of critical thinking and engagement that goes beyond fulfilling the bare minimum required by the assignment.


Students are expected to communicate with peers and instructors regularly as well as respond to messages from the instructor and peers in a timely manner. An Adler email address should be used for all Adler based communications. If students don’t use their Adler email address, they risk emails not being received or responded to. Students should make sure to check their Adler email and LMS inbox a minimum of once a day and respond to all messages as needed. Students should make arrangements to monitor their Adler email address regularly, and even if messages are forwarded to a personal email address, students need to be able to log in and send from their Adler address.

Students should also turn on notifications for their courses as this will alert them when new discussion posts and announcements have been added, and other alerts posted. To turn notifications on, visit the help section linked above. Students should check announcements regularly for course updates, as well as additional resources and information. Some announcements may require a response if so this will be stated in the announcement.

The Question and Answer discussion board is included in all courses as a place for students to post any questions related to course content, activities, etc. The course café is included in all courses as well as a place for students to engage one another on topics related to the course content as well as informally converse with one another.

Many students and instructors are in different time zones; all activities should be completed within the designated time noted in the course. Students are responsible for translating the deadline to their own time zone.

Academic Civility

Adler University is committed to maintaining a culture of civility. Therefore, disrespect and academic bullying are unacceptable. Disrespect and bullying can occur in many relationships: faculty‐to‐student, staff‐to‐student, administrator‐to‐faculty, faculty‐to‐faculty, student‐to‐student, student‐to‐staff, student‐to-faculty, etc. This type of behavior can place undue emotional stress on an individual where their personal well-being and health are impacted, they don’t feel safe, and consequently are unable to be productive. The Adler community is alert to this possibility and will serve to resolve situations that ensure that those who are impacted are treated with dignity. Building allies within your cohort is an effective strategy to counter disrespectful and bullying behavior. If you experience or witness academic disrespect, know the resources available to you (Department Chair, Program Director or Manager, Faculty Member, Student Services).

Ethics & Plagiarism

Graduate students are expected to conduct themselves in a mature, professional, ethical, and civil manner in all interactions with faculty, staff, and fellow students in accordance with these accepted policies:

Students are responsible for understanding and adhering to these policies including understanding what constitutes plagiarism under the Academic Honesty policy as well as the distinction between the different types of plagiarism, e.g. indirect, direct, fraudulent, and auto-plagiarism. For example, auto-plagiarism involves the resubmission of previous work as new within another course. The above link for Academic Honesty policy also outlines definitions of research misconduct and the process for how violations of academic honesty are handled.

Professional Development

Professional development is an ongoing process that continues throughout an individual’s career. It is important because it ensures students continue to be competent and are abreast of the most relevant theories and practices aligned with their craft. This also means that your growth and development does not begin and end with Adler University.

It is expected that graduate students will pursue professional training programs, seminars, and courses that will enhance their professional and personal growth and development. It is also encouraged that students will engage in conversations with their faculty that can help them build a broad network of professional contacts. To the extent possible, students should also contribute to the discourse of the scholarly discipline through presentations, publications, collaborative projects, and other means.


All online courses include the use of technology. Students should be familiar with the tools within the LMS, review the LMS help section, and contact technical support via as needed. Most online courses include adding media. When reviewing the help section pay special attention to the media management section to ensure media is added to activities appropriately.

Students should also have access to a stable internet connection, a laptop or desktop computer, and be familiar with creating and editing documents in Word, Excel, and other software a program may require. Please note, online courses cannot be completed using mobile devices and tablets.