How Can I Find the Right Online Degree?

If you're considering pursuing an online education, you need to know what to look for when choosing between programs. This article describes some criteria to consider when choosing the right online degree program for you.

Choosing the Best Online College Degree Program

You should put as much thought and research into selecting an online college degree program as you would if you were looking to enroll in an on-campus program. Make sure that program quality, schedule flexibility and faculty credentials all meet your needs before you enroll.

Important Facts About Online College Degree Programs

Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees available
Prerequisites Varies, depending upon intended program of enrollment; a high school diploma, or equivalent, is typically required for enrollment in an associate's or bachelor's degree program
Fields of Study Criminal justice, environmental science, business administration, anthropology, geosciences, health promotion, history, marketing, nursing
Possible Careers Multimedia artist, software developer, teacher, insurance underwriter, market research analyst, engineer, construction manager, insurance appraiser

Accreditation

Accreditation ensures that educational programs provided by colleges and universities meet established quality standards. National and regional accreditation should come from agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (www.ed.gov). Accreditation should always be considered when choosing an online college degree program. Potential employers will generally not recognize a degree earned from a program that is not accredited.

Quality

A college's online degree programs should offer a quality of education comparable to that of its on-campus degree programs. You should also be sure to check the faculty members' credentials; instructors of online programs should meet the same requirements that their on-campus colleagues are required to meet. Also check that the school offering the online degree program is respected or highly rated in the area you'll be studying.

Flexibility

Some online college degree programs consist of courses that require you to log on at set times. If you will be working full-time while enrolled in school, programs that offer more flexibility might be better for you. Many online college degree programs provide 24-hour access to lectures, coursework and forums. Other online courses offer live audio lectures, which allow for more enhanced interaction with faculty and fellow students but don't offer the flexibility that prerecorded lectures do.

Other Factors

Some professional organizations offer certification, and these organizations may have a list of schools with programs meeting their certification requirements. Researching these resources might help you narrow down your choices and better prepare you for the job market. It could also help you find out if the career you're considering can be effectively learned through an online program.

In addition, certain careers may have state licensure or certification requirements that could affect whether an online program is an option. For example, as of 2016, the American Bar Association did not offer accreditation to any fully online law degree programs. This was because its accreditation standards were designed to match the requirements for each state's bar exam, and the only state allowing graduates of fully online programs to sit for the bar exam was California.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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