Student FAQs

We know you have questions; we have answers. See below for popular questions from students like you.

Q: How does an online program work?

Online programs are similar to traditional college programs. The main differences with distance education are (1) the program takes place online, allowing you to participate virtually anywhere, as long as you have a computer or mobile device, and internet access; and (2) most course work is done asynchronously—when it fits your schedule.

Q: What to expect with online classes?

  • Students can typically work on the program during the evening or on weekends
  • 2-3 weekly streaming video lectures (varies by program)
  • live weekly video conference (varies by program)
  • Online quizzes
  • Programs include practical training (varies by program)/ Pain Medicine does not include practical training

Sample Schedule

Each semester, students take two to three courses. Most lectures are in the form of streaming videos accessible on our website.  All coursework per week is done at the student’s discretion, with the exception of the weekly video conferences.

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry Online Programs 

Online Video Lectures 8h/week Students manage their free time during the week or weekends to watch our interactive online video lectures. Video lectures do not need to be watched at one sitting.
Weekly Video Conference 2h/week The weekly video conference engages students and faculty in a live online session.
Learning need research and preparation up to 6h/week Students manage their free time during the week or weekends to work on learning need research and preparation.

Pain Medicine Online Programs

Online Video Lectures 8h/week Students manage their free time during the week or weekends to watch our interactive online video lectures. Video lectures do not need to be watched at one sitting.
Weekly Video Conference 5h/week The weekly video conference engages students and faculty in a live online session.
Learning need research and preparation up to 6h/week Students manage their free time during the week or weekends to work on learning need research and preparation.

*These are sample schedules only and can vary depending on program.

Q: How do you access classes?

Courses are accessed through Blackboard. Students can view each of their current courses, upload work, and monitor their own progress. Syllabi, information pertinent to the coursework, as well as communication from faculty and fellow students are available through Blackboard.

Q: What will studying online look like?

Students will be provided resources and information for each course, including:

  • Syllabus (class outline and expectations of the student)
  • Grading rubrics (expectations for the assignments)
  • Reading material
  • Quizzes
  • Discussion board
  • Assignments

Q: What about video conferences?

Students are required to attend weekly video conferences in which he/she presents cases and discusses topics with faculty and fellow classmates. Faculty schedule the video conferences to accommodate the work schedules and times zones of our students.

Q: Will I have access to a Library?

All students have access to the Jennifer Ann Wilson Dental Library and Learning Center, which has an extensive collection of materials relating to dentistry and oral health, as well as many services for its users.

Pain Medicine students have access to the Norris Medical Library. It has an extensive collection on all aspects of bio-medicine and healthcare. The online website provides access to online electronic journals and books, a computer lab and classroom, videoconferencing, and instruction on use of information resources for research, education and clinical care.

Q: How do I get Technical Support?

The Ostrow Distance Learning Office (DLO) has implemented a HelpDesk which allows students to submit academic, administrative, and technical requests. We aim to answer all tickets within 24 hours.

Q: Is housing available for the In-Person requirement?

If your program requires an in-person component (pain medicine does not have an in-person component), housing is available for our students during the summer months. Availability changes throughout the year depending on demand. Please contact Paul Frellick at  frellick@usc.edu for specific information regarding housing options.

Q: Do online students have a graduation ceremony?

Distance education conducts a small ceremony for all graduating students in May.  Along with this ceremony, students are also invited to the University-wide ceremony. Dates for the University-wide graduation can be found at the Academics Calendar page. The distance education graduation schedule follows the same pattern as main campus.

Students associated with Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry distance education programs will graduate with the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry students. The Pain Medicine program graduates will participate in the Keck School of Medicine graduation.

Q: When will I receive my certificate and/or diploma?

USC generally prints and mails diplomas six to eight weeks after the conclusion of your final semester. If you need official verification of your degree before you receive your diploma, please contact the Verification or Transcript department.

Q: Where will USC mail my diploma?

Unless you have made other arrangements, the Degree Progress department will mail your diploma to your permanent address. If you would like to verify and/or change your local or permanent address, please update your address in OASIS.

Q: How can I stay connected with USC?

With social media, USC is never far away. Like and visit us at:

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry Online Programs Facebook
Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry Online Programs Twitter
Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry Online Programs Instagram

Keck Medicine of USC Facebook
Keck Medicine of USC Twitter
Keck Medicine of USC Instagram
Keck Medicine of USC YouTube

Don’t see your question? Email us at ostrowon@usc.edu.