Online Degree and Certificate Programs

For a job seeker, one of the most troubling sections of any job posting might be the education requirements. Although some jobs may not require a formal need a formal qualification, many do.

You may even find yourself unable to move into a particular field or position due to your lack of a degree or certificate. In addition, taking time off work in order to pursue higher education may not be an option due to scheduling or financial reasons.

However, there are many degrees available online. You can receive instruction through online lectures, chat with classmates through discussion boards and forums and submit your work via email. You will be able to work at your own pace, provided you meet the necessary deadlines, and could even study part-time. Some of these are short certificate courses can even help you gain certain skills needed for a particular job. Others may provide you with a degree to open up a variety of new job opportunities.

Types of Online Degrees

The various types of online degrees available generally match up to their more traditional counterparts, although there will be some differences. Each has the potential to help you find a better job, or perhaps pursue a promotion.

  • Certificate or non-degree programs are a popular choice for those seeking to improve their employment or promotion prospect without needing a degree. They are often shorter courses taken in a single subject or to enhance a particular skill. This means you can choose exactly the course required to give you the edge you need as you move up the career ladder, learning in your spare time.
  • Associate degrees are often obtained in about two years. The level of work required is generally similar to an online bachelor’s degree. General education and a major are required, as well as electives. You might choose to use this degree to learn skills directly related to your career. Alternatively, taking an associate degree could help you pursue a bachelor’s degree much more easily after graduating.
  • Bachelor’s degrees will generally take four years to complete. Your options are usually a Bachelor of Arts for the liberal arts and sciences or a Bachelor of Science for engineering, math and various science-related fields. There are other types of bachelor’s degrees available, such as a business degree. Each online program offers their own list of degrees.
  • Master’s degrees can usually only be taken if you already have a bachelor’s degree in a related field. There may also be a requirement of additional work experience. Master’s degrees can be an excellent option if you already have experience in your field and are seeking to advance your options or to be promoted. You may also be able to increase your salary by obtaining this degree.
  • Doctorate degrees, or PhDs, are not always available online, as they often require first hand research to be performed on campus. The hours and type of study may also be difficult to complete solely online. However, there are several doctorate programs allowing candidates to complete some of their work online, while the rest of the course must be completed on campus.

Where to Study

When looking for an institution for online degrees, you have many choices available. There are a number of schools based entirely around long-distance learning and online courses. Other courses are offered by traditional colleges and universities as alternatives for students who need flexible schedules. A good resource that is updated constantly is the U.S. News & World Report. This trusted news leader offers reviews and links to accredited online colleges. One of the most important points to determine when looking for the right institution is whether it is accredited. This is especially important if you are planning on receiving a degree. If the school is not accredited, any qualifications you receive could end up meaning very little for your career prospects.

There may be some concern over whether an online degree will be taken as seriously as a more traditional one. Generally, it seems most employers will not care how the degree, itself, was earned. However, it is worth researching the course and institution beforehand. Not only should you ensure the school is accredited, but also that the course is well reviewed and has a good academic reputation.

How does an online degree work?

There are a variety of online degrees. Some are completed entirely online, while others combine distance learning with traditional campus-based education. The course itself will probably be managed on a website, generally treated as a virtual classroom. You will be provided with links to resources and lectures to study from. There are often message boards used by the students and teachers, through which you might complete a group project or ask for help. You will receive and submit your work through this website.

Enrolling in an online degree or certificate program is similar to enrolling at a traditional school. The nature of the study does not mean the requirements for taking the course will be any less strict, especially for degree programs. Non-degree programs or certificates may have no special requirements, and a few program might only have a minimum grade point average (GPA) requirement in order to be accepted. Some programs might accept certain types of work experience as credit toward completing the course.

You can save a considerable amount by taking an online course, cutting out transport costs and moving your study time around your work hours, but you will still need the right technology and equipment. This will generally be an up to date computer with relatively fast processing speeds and very good internet capabilities. Depending on the course you take, there may be other technological requirements for which you will need to budget.

Choosing the Right Program for You

When choosing the online study program right for you, consider both the purpose of the degree or certificate, and also your own availability. You might want to move up in a specialized field requiring certain qualifications, such as needing a bachelor’s or master’s degree. If you only need to improve a certain skill set, a certificate or non-degree program may be all you require.

You should also take your own time and availability into account. There are some who are able to work full or part time, as well as taking a full-time degree program. This is achieved by planning your work and study hours carefully and following a strict schedule. However, this will not be possible for everyone. Many online courses offer a part time option. This will mean taking a longer time to complete the course but may also mean a more successful experience.

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