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The Distance Campus

August 28, 2017

Building connections with UMD faculty and classmates across the country.

Jenna Hennen does her homework at Starbucks, typing away on her laptop. Coffee orders and lively chatting surrounds her.  She adds a few sentences to her research proposal, a study on links between excessive video gaming and impulsivity, as people drift in and out of the cafe.

She is due to graduate from UMD in the spring of 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and an abundance of research experience. From a Starbucks in her hometown of St. Rogers, Minn., Jenna is able to make connections with fellow students and faculty, and also be involved in the great opportunities UMD has to offer.


Jenna is enrolled in UMD’s online psychology program, which allows students to complete a bachelor’s degree from almost anywhere in the country.  Jenna has actively tapped into the UMD community, taking on roles such as becoming a teacher’s assistant (TA), as well as conducting her own research project. "I really like it. I'm impressed with the online community and I've really enjoyed it, so far," Jenna says.  

"In a bunch of the psych classes that we take, we learn how important the community is in developing and learning and growing,” she says. “UMD offers that community.  Students have the opportunity to be a TA from a distance, or to do research… it’s just a great platform for students."

Jenna chose to complete her degree online when she was a senior in high school. She started with a variety of subjects and online classes through UM Crookston.  Both of her parents had taken online classes, so they supported Jenna’s decision.


Jenna knows how important a research background is in order to get into a graduate program.

When she took the Discipline and Profession course, she asked her teacher how an online student could get research experience. “He actually had a project in mind,” she says. Jenna and her professor, Dr. Scott Carlson, communicated through phone calls and emails. “We received the funding last spring… so we go live with our research project in the fall.”

Jenna plans on heading to graduate school and will eventually pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. "I would love to work in assessment and specialize in pediatrics,” Jenna says. “A lot of what happens to us when we’re children influences who we are as adults. If we could assess and diagnose individuals while they are still young, we would be able to recommend resources for them as they develop."


"For two of my classes last semester, we had group projects, and I was actually nervous about starting them just because I had never done too much online group work before, but it was actually such a great experience."

Jenna got along very well with her two fellow group members, one of whom was completing her degree from California.  “I made strong connections with the others in the group," she says. “I think it's so cool that technology is helping me work with people from all over the country."

“There are definitely a lot of quizzes and a lot of papers, which have helped strengthen my writing skills,” she says.  In one class, Basic Helping Skills, students uploaded videos of themselves practicing counseling skills. “That was a unique project," she says.

"I am especially drawn to the field of psychology because there is so much left to discover. I want to be a part of that journey."

About the University of Minnesota Duluth's online psychology program


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