(TNS) — McDaniel College graduate students now have increased flexibility in class schedules thanks to the addition of more online education programs.

The college has officially received approval from the Maryland Higher Education Commission to offer its curriculum and instruction graduate program entirely online. The program, which counts for 34.5 credits, is almost always made up of practicing educators, Rebecca Gibson, program coordinator for McDaniel's curriculum and instruction graduate program, said.

The program focuses on curriculum, instruction and assessment, she said, and deals with application, theory and research. Most of what is learned in core courses can be applied to what teachers are doing regularly in their classrooms, Gibson added.

While the curriculum and instruction graduate program is now officially all available online, pieces of the course, and many other courses, have been online for awhile, Mike Tyler, Dean of Graduate and Professional studies, said. McDaniel has been working to provide as many opportunities for students to complete graduate programs as possible, he said.

And that starts with making courses -- and full programs -- available online.

"Some want to be on [the] ground, some want the flexibility of being online," Tyler said.

And some students want to be able to move back and forth between the two options, he said.

"It certainly helps those individuals who may be working adults and may not have the flexibility to attend classes during the day," he added.

While online classes continue to gain popularity, not everyone feels comfortable in that type of classroom setting. Gibson said in most classes, there are one or two students who have never taken an online course and are nervous.

Often, she said, they quickly realize there's nothing to be worried about because McDaniel instructors work to make sure students can have contact with the teacher in online classes.

The online and in-person classes are "extremely parallel," Gibson said.

"Really the only difference is the delivery method," she added.

While the curriculum and instruction graduate program is new to being fully online, McDaniel has been working toward having classes and programs online for years. Students have come asking for more online classes, Tyler said.

Every time a class is put online, that class gets a lot of enrollment, Tyler added.

Adding online classes helps McDaniel stay more marketable to students, Tyler said. Most students who want to complete their higher education online want to do so at an institution somewhat close to home, he added.

Plus, for Maryland teachers, McDaniel works to tailor its programs to what schools in the state are looking for.

"We know what teachers locally need," Tyler said.

©2016 the Carroll County Times (Westminster, Md.), distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.