In today’s internet age, education online has become more accessible than ever before. Online degrees have grown in popularity in the last few years and there is a rapid rise in the number of students choosing an online degree over a traditional on-campus degree. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), one in three students in the USA is now taking at least one class online. There are several amazing programs available online which are offered by various universities. Most of these programs are not in any way inferior to a program offered on-campus. Career opportunities for people with an online degree are only on the rise.
In the last few years, though we have moved forward in terms of acceptance of online degrees as being equivalent to on-campus gained degrees, there is still doubt surrounding it. Some employers still prefer on-campus gained degrees over online acquired degrees. The good news is that this is changing fast. 75% of employers do not look at online degrees negatively anymore and some might even look at it positively as it shows the determination of an individual in successfully taking up a number of commitments.
Benefits of doing an online degree
Some pros of doing an online degree are:
- There is more flexibility to study as and when you want and at your own pace. This is especially useful for people who work or have a family to look after.
- It is possible to do a number of degrees at the same time.
- You can cut the cost of relocating or commuting to the university.
- You can learn anywhere and anytime you want.
- It is easy to review the lectures as they are always available online.
- It is possible to study at the university you like regardless of whether it is located in your country or close to where you live.
Online degrees are generally available at three levels i.e. a bachelor degree, a master degree and some undergraduate or graduate certificate courses. Let’s take a look at these different degrees.
Bachelor degree: A bachelor’s degree consists of course work in a number of subjects. These usually also consist of an internship as a part of the program. A bachelor’s degree gives the student the foundation needed to take advantage of various career opportunities in different sectors.
Master degree: A master’s degree adds on to the knowledge which is gained during the bachelor’s program. There are various specializations in the topics covered during the bachelor’s program.
Certificate courses: Certificate courses are available for undergraduate as well as graduate students who want to gain further knowledge in a particular field without taking up a complete degree program. This is also useful for professionals who want to specialize in a certain area. These are also a good option for students who do not want to commit to a degree program but are interested in getting an introduction to a particular field.
Choosing the right university and program
Choosing the right university and program is the most important decision that students have to make as this can influence future job prospects. As there are hundreds of universities to choose from, selecting the right one becomes a difficult task. Schools offer programs which have varied focuses, and it is hence crucial to evaluate your own interests and career goals. The right school for someone else might not fit your educational needs and may not be the right one for you. It is also important to take into consideration the kind of accreditation the college has. Accreditation is a symbol of quality of the college itself and the program. It shows whether a certain college or program lives up to the set quality standards. Employers often take the accreditation of the university into consideration while looking for new employees. Accreditation status can have a big impact on the chances of receiving financial aid or to transfer credits to another degree or school, if needed. The information about accreditation is generally easily available on the website of the school.
Choosing the right program is an important task and depends on your career goals, current education levels, the field you want to venture into and other such things. There are a number of bachelor, master, certificate programs to suit your individual requirements. It is important to think carefully about the major that you want to pursue as this has biggest impact on your job prospects in the future. You will learn about completely different skills as each major emphasizes on different things. Studies have shown that your major has a bigger impact on career prospects and earnings than where you do the degree.
It is recommended to carefully look at the top college websites and research about the specific courses you are interested in. Connect with students who have already completed their studies from the said college and learn about their personal views on the program. Compare the rankings between the colleges but in the end what is more important is that the course modules are aligned with your own interests. Shortlist universities and then talk to the admission assistant at the university to know about what they offer at that particular university.
Depending on the amount of flexibility you need, there are different types of online programs such as:
- Synchronous: In the synchronous format, you have to follow the schedule set by the college and attend all lectures, do the assignments and projects at the same time as others. The time is set by a pre-made schedule.
- Asynchronous: It is similar to synchronous, the difference being that you have deadlines before which you have to complete certain tasks. You can do it as and when you want as long as it is within the set deadlines.
- Open schedule: Here you can start the program independent of traditional structure. Interactions with other students is minimum. Completion of assignments have deadlines according to your start date.
- Hybrid schedule: This can be a combination of any of the above forms.
The financial aspect
Like any college degree, an online degree also requires an investment of money. Studies have however shown that a college education does pay off in the end.
- 35,000$ is the average income of a person with a high school diploma
- 41,500$ is the average income of a person with an associate degree
- 50,556$ is the average income of a person with a bachelor’s degree
- 77,591$ is the average income of a person with a master’s degree
The cost of a college degree can vary significantly depending on the college, the type of degree and the major. Tuition fees for online degrees aren’t really cheaper than on-campus degree programs, but you can save money in other aspects such as the cost of relocation or commutation and cost of materials. The flexibility offered by online degrees also gives you an opportunity to work alongside your studies.
Most students taking up online programs, pay out of pocket or by taking education loans from banks or by getting help from relatives. There are several online colleges that also allow tuition fee payment in zero interest installments under the condition that the entire sum must be paid off by the end of each term.
The bottom line
There are several specializations offered at most of the top universities. It is important to analyze your interests and to choose a specialization that is aligned with them. Some specializations are valued higher in the market than others. Education comes with its benefits. It goes to say that it is important to evaluate whether the online business degree is worth it before taking the plunge and spending the money and time on it.
OnlineSTEMDegrees.com offers extensive research about various Online courses offered by best colleges and universities.