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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Oct. 27, 2022

Online postgraduate programs offer members academic growth opportunities from the comfort of their homes

By Lori Pastro, Communications Specialist, Mission Support Integration Office

Coast Guard members can take advantage of pursuing postgraduate programs from the comfort of their homes. In addition to in-person programs, FORCECOM’s Advanced Education (AE) Program authorizes online postgraduate programs, which have become more popular in recent years due to the pandemic and related issues. 

According to Audra Evans, Coast Guard Advanced Education Program administrator, increasing participation in online postgraduate programs benefits Coast Guard members in several ways. First, students remain in their current geographic location throughout the duration of schooling, which lasts about 18 months on average. Once their program is completed, they move to their next tour-of-duty, which is their “payback” tour, on cost orders. This arrangement reduces permanent change of station (PCS) costs while affording members geographic stability. Online programs also provide tuition savings because they are typically less expensive than in-person educational programs. And, increasing the time that a member can live in one place has the added benefits of promoting a better work-life balance as well as enhancing family stability.

Online academic programs are typically set up in three ways: 

  • Fully synchronous:  All classes meet online at a specific time with a live course instructor.  
  • Fully asynchronous:  There is no established course convening time, so students complete course requirements on their own time.  
  • Hybrid programs: These programs have synchronous and asynchronous elements.  

The Coast Guard has 82 program offices that sponsor advanced education opportunities, and each one determines which postgraduate programs members can attend. The Advanced Education Program representatives have recently been working with these offices to develop lists that identify preferred in-person and online academic programs. The sponsoring program offices will submit these lists to the Advanced Education Program Administrator by Nov. 7. Fully asynchronous programs will not be authorized.  

If you are considering an online postgraduate program, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  1. Any Coast Guard member who has been selected for an Advanced Education Training Allocation Billet (TAB) may apply to a 100-percent online program, so long as their sponsoring program office has identified it as a preferred, viable option for their career field. Each program office has the authority to decide if it supports online postgraduate program participation, and FORCECOM has authority to make final decisions regarding whether identified preferred online schools will receive approval for participation.
  2. Students can choose one of two academic programs, which will be fully vetted to ensure a shared understanding amongst all stakeholders regarding the responsibilities for online studies.
  3. Potential participants should be aware of costs involved in online postgraduate programs. Per the Financial Resource Management Manual (FRMM), the 

Coast Guard’s Advanced Education Program is not authorized to fund work-related (e.g., temporary duty) travel. Therefore, any travel costs a member incurs in a hybrid academic program with a residency requirement needs to be covered by the sponsoring program office or be absorbed as an out-of-pocket expense.  

For additional information, please contact Audra Evans.