How Online College Degree Programs Work

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Here you’ll find information on online college degree programs from the types of online degrees available to how to choose the right program for you. Read on to find out about how online college degree programs can work for you.

Benefits of Online College Degree Programs

Online college degree programs offer a great opportunity for those who would like to earn a degree. Some benefits of online college degree programs include:

  • Earn a degree on your own time, on your own schedule, and at your own pace.
  • Increase your career prospects and/or salary potential.
  • Save money on tuition, fees, course materials, and travel expenses.
  • Continue working while earning your degree.
  • Communicate with instructors and students all over the world.
  • Improve your self-esteem, confidence, and sense of responsibility.

Schools Offering Online College Degree Programs

A variety of schools now offer online college degree programs, including the following:

  • Trade, specialty, and vocational schools
  • Two-year colleges, junior colleges, and community colleges
  • Four-year colleges and universities

Within those groups, you will find private and public institutions, for which tuition prices can vary greatly, so be sure to consider all your options when choosing the best online college for you.

Degrees Offered in Online College Degree Programs

All levels of degrees are available in online college programs, including the following:

  • Diploma
  • Certificate
  • Associate Degree
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Master’s Degree
  • Doctorate Degree

Disciplines Covered in Online College Degree Programs
These days, just about any discipline you can imagine has some sort of online courses or degree programs available. Some of the most popular online college degree programs are in the following areas:

  • Accounting, Business & Marketing
  • Career & Vocational
  • Criminal Justice & Legal
  • Education & Teaching
  • Health, Nursing, Medical & Sciences
  • Information Technology (IT) & Technology
  • Languages
  • Social Sciences

Number of People in Online College Degree Programs
Distance learning or distance education has become increasingly popular in recent years; according to a survey by, by 2005, 90.6% of public learning institutions offered online courses, and 46.1% of public postsecondary schools offered full online degree programs.

What does that mean? Well, for one thing, it has translated into a growing number of students taking online courses. From 2003 to 2007, the number of students taking online courses doubled to 3.9 million, making for 12% faster growth than in traditional university settings.

If you’re ready to take courses at online colleges and universities, you’re not alone–and in fact, your fellow students may come from all over the world.

Employers’ Attitude Toward Online College Degree Programs

Online college degrees are becoming increasingly accepted and more respected by employers. A 2005 survey found that

85% of employers believed that online degrees were more accepted than just five years previously. Moreover, 34% of employers had actually seen job applicants with online degrees.

How Online College Degree Programs Work
Programs differ by school, discipline, and degree sought, but generally online college degree programs rely heavily on the Internet through email, chat rooms, discussion boards, and forums, and some even put all course materials online for download.

Just as with traditional programs, many online college programs have tests, exams, papers, and other methods for evaluation for which there are often set times and/or deadlines.

Depending on the discipline, hands-on experience may also be required for completion of degree requirements, so be sure to read descriptions carefully.

Deciding If You’re Ready to Pursue an Online Degree
Whether now is the right time for your pursue an online degree is a decision only you can make, but the following are some issues to consider:

  • Do you enjoy learning on your own without a lot of guidance and structure?
  • Are you self-motivated and able to accomplish things without someone over your shoulder?
  • Are you comfortable using computers, the Internet, and email?
  • Do you manage your time effectively and efficiently?
  • How much time and money do you have to dedicate to an online degree program right now?

Deciding on an Online College Degree Program
If you’re looking at online degrees to advance your career, chances are you have a good idea of what you’re looking for in a program.That said, always be sure that the program you’re considering will actually help you achieve your career goals whether it’s to move into management or to simply move laterally within your organization.

If you’re still looking for a career path, the first thing you should do is narrow down what you enjoy doing and what you’re good at. Free online career tests such as the following can help you in this process:

Once you’ve narrowed down what you want to study, try to talk to people who work in that profession and/or get some volunteer experience so you can really see what it’s like on a day-to-day basis.

Considerations in Choosing an Online Degree Program
When choosing between online college degree programs, the following are the most important factors to consider:

  • Course offerings
  • Tuition and fees
  • Accreditation
  • Faculty
  • Level of interaction with instructors and other students
  • How the program compares with both other online programs and traditional university programs

Are you ready to learn more about specific online college degree programs?

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