When you think of a residency requirement for school you might think of the potential difference in tuition for in-state residents versus out-of-state residents. Or you might think of medical school residency. There is also another type of residency. Many graduate programs require a residency as part of the degree completion requirements and that residency requirement may require students to complete a certain number of credits or a certain number of terms or semesters on campus.
There are various approaches to this. Some programs have accelerated residencies where the school holds an intensive week-long program at the campus. Other schools will have virtual residencies. If you are attending graduate school on-ground at a campus, references to residency will probably refer to your state of residence. If you are attending graduate school online or at a satellite campus (a campus in a location separate from the college’s main campus), you might be required to complete some courses at the main campus. This will depend on the school and your program, so make sure you review all of the program requirements.
If you are completing your graduate degree through a distance program (online) and the program requires a residency, that residency will likely fall into one of two categories. The first is an accelerated on-campus residency. This approach involves students attending a class on-campus full time for one to two weeks once per year or more. Some schools, such as Capella University, hold these residencies at large hotels at various locations around the country so students can limit their travel as much as possible. This type of residency gives students the opportunity to meet classmates face-to-face and build important professional relationships. The second is a virtual residency. This option requires students to attend events that are held online. The events might be courses or conferences that require you to participate at specific times. Virtual residencies will likely require you to have reliable high-speed internet and a webcam so you can fully participate. This approach still gives students the opportunity to build professional relationships with classmates. It just takes more of an intentional effort when you are not seeing peers face-to-face.
What it comes down to is do not assume a residency will not apply to your program and since residency can refer to different things, be sure to fully review all of the requirements for your program and ask a lot of questions. Residency requirements bring students together, either on campus or online, and provide an excellent opportunity to share ideas and network. Take advantage! ☺