‘Sci-Fi University’ comes to Nashua

Image Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

NASHUA – Calling all fantasy and science fiction fans: A new online university will soon be making its way to the Granite State.

The New Hampshire Department of Education recently granted approval for Signum University to offer classes in the state.

Last week, New Hampshire Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut stated, “The university offers unique and enticing courses born out of very popular contemporary literature. I imagine that these course offerings will be engaged by younger and older students alike. Now using the online format, students around the globe interested in science fiction and fantasy literature will not have to travel to a galaxy far, far away to take courses.”

Before it officially opens, Signum University is seeking approval from New Hampshire Legislature to grant degrees in the state under Senate Bill 138, which will allow the university to grant masters of arts in language and literature.

Signum University was founded by its current President, Corey Olsen, in 2011. Olsen, who served as an English professor in Maryland and specialized in medieval literature, said he experimented with online web seminars before starting Signum University and saw the potential that could come from learning online.

However, unlike some online universities that are geared toward independently-driven students, this atmosphere allows students to get all aspects of a classroom setting, they just aren’t in the classroom. Olsen said as a professor, he also saw many of his students leaving school with thousands of dollars of debt and wanted to create an option that would radically lower tuition. Thus, Signum University was created.

Olsen said the university is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational institution that offers both graduate programs and certificate programs, for those who love to learn but aren’t aiming for a degree.

Signum University encourages students to focus their studies within one of four concentrations, which the university designed to help students as they begin developing their thesis topic. Courses in each concentration will be offered during our three 12-week semesters each year. The concentrations include: Tolkien Studies, Imaginative Literature, Classical, Medieval & Renaissance Literature and Germanic Philology.

Courses in each concentration are offered during Signum University’s three 12-week semesters each year. Fall semester runs from August through December; spring semester runs from January through April; and summer semester runs from May through July.

Signum University prides itself on delivering “rigorous, graduate-level courses online that are nonetheless flexible and enjoyable.”

The university works to provide two types of instruction through each course: discussion sections and lectures. The discussion sections are weekly small-group conversations among students about the course’s lectures, readings, and related topics.

“This sort of direct engagement is one of the critical components many online degree programs often fail to incorporate into their curricula. At Signum, however, we want to make sure that students are working together to share ideas, ask questions, and debate issues related to the course topic,” it states on the university’s website.

Eight to 12 students can participate in the discussion groups, depending on the course. Signum University uses conferencing software to connect students with lecturers and preceptors during live lectures and discussions.

Most courses will have two live lectures per week, during which students can log in and watch a presentation and send questions and comments during the lecture.

Similar to “office hours” at most colleges, where students can meet with instructors outside of normal class hours, the lecturers also set aside time for chatting directly with students.

Students from all over the world can enroll in courses at Signum University. Students who may not be able to attend the lectures live can download recordings of the lecturers and instructors set discussion sessions at different times of the day.

To learn more about Signum University, visit https://signumuniversity.org/.