Time and distance not a problem for first wholly online graduate

Completing a Master’s degree while raising an 18-month-old might not sound like perfect timing, however being able to study online made that possible for Christie Cline. She not only pulled off all of the above, but also became the first wholly online student to graduate from the University of Melbourne.

Christie Cline

Banner image: Christie Cline celebrates with her husband and son

Ms Cline graduated on 13 December with a Master of Evaluation as part of the Graduate Online – Melbourne initiative launched in April 2015. It makes her the first online student to graduate since the launch of the initiative.

Ms Cline moved to Australia five years ago from Sierra Leone where she was an economics statistician. Her passion for community development is what started her on the path to graduate study, and evaluation meant she could contribute to the public sector by improving programs and outcomes for people in need.

“When I started looking for courses in evaluation I wasn’t intending on studying online,” she said.

“I found the course at the University of Melbourne while I was living in Perth, and enrolled with an open mind.”Christie Cline Christie Cline with Provost Professor Margaret Sheil

The diverse online student cohort, made up of 65% interstate and overseas students, delighted her and she received a confidence boost from her fellow students.

“There was such a range of experience amongst students, and I was amazed at the technology. I could interact with everyone, and learning from them and their real-world experience made me feel ready to start my new career path.”

The freedom of studying online also meant Ms Cline could devote time to volunteering as an evaluation consultant.

“I travelled 90km twice a week to volunteer and I could fit my study around my life. That means I’m graduating with career-ready skills,” she said.

Ms Cline now hopes to put her skills to use in international community development, and hasn’t ruled out a PhD., where she hopes to investigate the relationship between evaluation and good governance.

Provost Professor Margaret Sheil said Ms Cline’s graduation was a significant milestone for the University and the Graduate Online – Melbourne initiative.

“We’re immensely proud of Christie and look forward to many more students joining her in becoming members of our alumni community through our online programs,” she said.

“The quality of academics available at the University of Melbourne is exceptional and our students, both on campus and online, benefit tremendously from being able to access and engage with them.”

Further information about the University of Melbourne’s suite of wholly online graduate courses is available at online.unimelb.edu.au.