Online Degree Programs

October 26, 2010

Online degree programs have given potential students the opportunity to take courses at colleges and universities that would have previously been unavailable due to location or scheduling constraints.  Many people who pursue these online degrees have full or part time jobs that make it difficult to attend classes in a traditional setting.

Their ultimate goal is usually to advance their career by earning a Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree in their current industry from one of these online schools.  The additional training and knowledge can often translate into a better job — and possibly better pay.

Although it can be challenging to work and go back to school at the same time, technology makes it easier than it used to be.  These online degree programs allow you to take classes from the comfort of your own home and interact with instructors and other students on your own schedule.

Online Degree Program Benefits
In addition to being location independent there are a number of other benefits associated with online degree programs. One of the most encouraging items is the speed at which you can finish. Since you can work at your own pace, and review course material when it’s convenient for you, it is often possible to finish more quickly than you would if you attended classes on campus.

Another advantage is that online degree programs can sometimes cost less than on-campus programs. You might even be able to take online classes for in-state tuition rates — even if you are not a resident. Online degree programs can be a great way to get the credentials you need to advance your career, while saving money.

Drawbacks of Online Courses
Although online courses have benefits there are a few things to watch out for when comparing online degree programs.  Since you’re spending money on tuition you want to make sure that you get a good value for your investment.

The first thing to check is whether a school is accredited, you want to make sure they are so that your degree has value in the job market.  You also want to research their reputation; some online degree programs may not be viewed with the same level of respect as for more traditional degree programs.

Another concern is the experience level of the instructors. Make sure that the school you choose uses properly qualified instructors with degrees and experience in the industry.  Reputation and quality of instructors will have a definite impact on how an online degree is viewed by your current and future employer.

Other drawbacks of taking online courses include:

  • Access to instructors is virtual.
  • Requires discipline and time for independent study.
  • You may not have the right home environment for proper study.
  • Miss face to face interactions with fellow students and your professors.

Make sure you consider these potential concerns and that you weigh your options before you spend the money to enroll in a program.

Options for Online Degrees
There are two main options when it comes to completing a degree program online. First of all, it is possible to take classes from an online university that offers all online options. These online universities are well known institutions like the University of Phoenix and Kaplan University. Many of these types of online universities also have physical campuses located around the country, and you may have to check in. As mentioned before, when choosing an online university, make sure it is an accredited institution.

Some traditional schools offer online degree programs as well. My sister took a number of courses online in order to finish her bachelor’s degree, and my brother-in-law plans to enroll in an online master’s degree program at a state university. When you complete your degree in this manner, the diploma comes from a respected and accredited school — usually with no indication that you completed your education via the Internet. Even if you can’t complete an entire degree online, you might be able to move toward your degree faster with help from online courses.

In the end, you can get great benefit from utilizing online degree programs that can help you improve your skills and knowledge. Just make sure you choose a school that’s a good fit for you and a degree that will help you move ahead in your industry.


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Miranda writes about personal finance almost every day. An experienced freelance writer, she's covered your money online and in print from every angle and is always looking for new ones.

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