During this age of technology, more and more students are turning away from traditional brick and mortar school and opting for online graduate degrees. With these online courses, students have much more flexibility. Online graduate degrees can be obtained for a variety of fields, including medical, education, legal and technology. Online degrees are also suitable for individuals who work full-time, have children to take care of or simply would like to go back to school without the pressures of physical institutions. Advancing your career can be done at your own convenience with the use of an online graduate degree in the field of your choice.
What Are Online Graduate Degrees
Online graduate degrees are college courses that can be taken using a computer with Internet access. Those who have already finished a four-year college degree can obtain one. There are a variety of educational institutions that offer online courses for degrees in just about every field. Anyone who has access to the Internet can take these courses at their own leisure. Since there is no physical class, courses can be taken on the weekend or even in the middle of the night. Students have the freedom to take online graduate degree courses whenever they can. In some instances, these courses can be completed within one or two years, or sooner, since some are self-paced. The curriculums vary, so it is important that potential students view them to ensure that they fit with their own schedules. There are deadlines and class participation requirements that must be met for certain online degree courses. A great thing about going to school online is the wide availablity of the best graduate degrees and subject areas to choose.
Why Obtain an Online Graduate Degree vs. a Traditional On-Campus Degree
Online graduate degrees are ideal for anyone who is looking for flexibility. If you are good at studying alone and don’t need constant attention from an educator, you may find an online graduate degree to be right for you. With an online graduate degree, you can continue your education, allowing you to earn more in the career field that you have chosen.
On-campus degrees are good, but aren’t for everyone. With the online graduate degrees, people with busier lives or who would like to return to school years or even decades after graduating from college can easily do so. It offers a bigger advantage when it comes to time and money management. You can take a couple of courses at a time or complete the entire program. There’s so much flexibility and a lot of institutions are willing to cater your education around your needs and budget. If needed, in-person exams are requested for hands-on degrees like nursing and physical therapy.
The Many Benefits of Online Graduate Degrees
There are many great benefits that can be found with online graduate degrees, including:
- Flexibility – You can take online courses any time of day or day of the week. Some are self-paced, allowing you to finish your courses quicker or slower without penalties.
- Affordability – Since there isn’t a physical location, there’s no need to charge for attendance of an educator. The prices for online graduate degrees tend to be cheaper than traditional courses. Although some rates are the same as traditional schools, you may still find flexibility with the payment plans, allowing you to buy single courses or make monthly payments if you can’t obtain government financing.
- Wide range of courses – Just as with a brick and mortar school, you have a large variety of college courses that you can take for your graduate degree.
- Great one-on-one– You will still have full access to the educator, so you can call or email the teacher to get the extra tutoring you need for your online graduate degree.
- Quicker – A lot of online graduate courses offer quicker completion. So instead of taking one or two years, it could take 9 to 18 months, depending on the degree and institution you enroll in.
How Much Are Online Graduate Degrees?
There isn’t a set rate for online graduate degrees, but there is a common misconception that they are all cheaper than on-campus degrees. If you decide to go with an accredited school that is prestigious, you can expect to pay high prices for your online courses. It also comes down to the online degree that you’re studying for. The range for an online degree cab be anywhere between $3,000 and $45,000; give or take. A three credit course online can sometimes range between $700 and $900, which can easily be compared to a mid-range on-campus school. This would equal out to about $7,500 per semester. This includes textbooks and other supplies that\’d be needed for the online degree. The price ranges rise and fall over time, so it is important to do you research and shop around for an accredited school that fits within your budget.
Are Any Online Graduate Degrees Provided by Accredited Schools?
Imagine studying a couple of years for an online graduate degree only to find out that the school you received your diploma from isn’t accredited. Without an accredited degree, you will have difficulties finding work. To avoid this dilemma, it is very important that you double check that the school you are enrolling in is accredited. Now, are there any accredited schools that offer online graduate degrees? Yes. There are many well-known schools that now offer online courses to students. You can also find schools that only offer distance learning courses that too are accredited. There are different types of accreditations – institutional and programmatic, and two branches of accreditations, national and regional. Depending on what you plan to do with your degree and what is required by the employer you will be working for will determine which type of accreditation you will want.
Of course, the national accreditation is the best option, since it is valid in all 50 states. If you plan to move and work in another region after you have completed your online degree, you will want to go with a nationally accredited school. If you plan to move to another state that is within the same region that your degree is accredited for, then a regional accreditation should suffice.
Types of Online Graduate Degree Accreditations
As mentioned, there are two types of accreditations for online graduate degrees: institutional and programmatic. It is very important that your education is accredited; otherwise it could end up being time and money wasted. Educational programs and institutions are regulated by self-regulatory, nonprofit and nongovernmental accrediting agencies. Not only does an accreditation secure your degree in the work field, but it also ensures that the education you are getting meets the standards for the industry you plan to work in.
An institutional accreditation is when the entire educational institution is reviewed and programmatic accreditation is when specific programs inside of the institution are reviewed. The accreditations that are given to the institution and programs can either be national or regional. Institutions are able to get programmatic, regional and/or national accreditations. You will find that majority of schools choose to get programmatic and regional accreditations to ensure that the quality of their education is better for its students.
Regional accreditation is considered to be the highest accreditation possible. It reviews public, nonprofit, degree-granting and private two-year and four-year schools. There are eight regional accreditations total – the West, South, North, Middle, New England and Northwest. The regional branch oversees about 3,000 schools.
The national accreditation keeps an eye on nontraditional and specialized schools across the U.S., including tech schools, religious colleges, online universities and vocational colleges. Within the national accreditation, there are two branches: career-related and faith-related.
Programmatic accreditation oversees individual programs within schools throughout the nation. There are 61 accrediting agencies within this branch, like the American Dental Association. It accredits 19,400 programs in various fields, such as law, social work, healthcare, education and business, among others. If you are entering into a profession that requires you to continue your education, such as in the legal, health or education field, then you will need to choose courses that have a programmatic accreditation.
What Employers Think About Online Graduate Degrees
In the past, employers looked down upon applicants who obtained online graduate degrees, but over the last couple of years, their views have changed. Online degrees are now being accepted with open arms, as long as they were obtained from accredited institutions. In the beginning, online degrees were unheard of and didn’t have legitimate or well-known colleges supplying them. Now, that this industry is closely regulated, that has all changed. There are a handful of employers out there today who may frown upon an online degree, but your chances of running into one may be slim. When placing an online graduate degree on your resume, just make sure to include the accredited institution’s name, the major your pursued and your GPA.
There are even some employers who view online degrees highly and even consider these graduates more valuable than on-campus degree holders. The reason for this is because graduates of online degrees have proven their ability to use technology that may be commonplace in their company, such as conducting webinars and video conferences. Completing an online graduate degree also shows that you have great self-management skills and commitment.
The Most Common Online Graduate Degrees
There are many great online graduate degrees to choose from, but there are a couple that many people tend to flock, like with these following degrees:
- Information Technology
- Legal/Criminal Justice
Top Online Graduate Degree Schools
There are hundreds of online schools to choose from today, but here is a list of a few of the top accredited institutions:
- Strayer University
- Kaplan University
- Capella University
- Devry Univeristy
- Ashford University
The Process for Obtaining an Online Graduate Degree
If you’re interested in proceeding with getting an online graduate degree, you will first need to browse around for an accredited institution. Just as you would with an on-campus degree, you should check the alumni and courses to see if they are up to your standards. Find out how the teacher-student relationships are and of course, the tuition costs.
You will speak with the admissions department about the online graduate degree that you’re interested in. He or she will help you get funding for your courses from Financial Aid, if you qualify and if you choose to enroll. Once you have been enrolled, you will be informed of the start date for your first semester. Make sure to log in regularly to keep up with assignment deadlines. It’s easy to overlook your school work when you have no one breathing over your shoulder, so you will need to be diligent. Once you have passed all of your courses and final exams, you will receive your online degree in the mail. Some institutions hold a graduation ceremony at its school, giving students a real sense of achievement.
What’s Needed to Complete an Online Graduate Degree
It doesn’t take much extra to complete online graduate courses. You will need to have access to a computer and high speed Internet and will need to purchase any textbooks and supplies that are needed. Some schools have online texts that you can read online. Make sure that your computer meets the minimum requirements for the online course; this is usually available on the web site of the institution. You will need to have sufficient memory RAM, hard drive space, processor speeds and Internet connections; broadband or DSL is recommended.
Tips for Passing Your Online Graduate Degree Courses
With online graduate degrees, it is very important that you have great time management skills and motivation. Many people fall behind or drop out because of their lack of self-management and dedication. You should take an online graduate degree course that you are passionate about, so that you won’t have this problem. Here are a few tips to help you complete an online graduate degree:
- Set aside time each week to complete your online courses.
- Make sure to take breaks in between studying, so that you don’t feel crammed mentally. Study for an hour or two at a time; pace yourself accordingly.
- Work after you have rested and eaten to ensure that you have better concentration.
- Just because you’re alone studying doesn’t mean you’re alone; get in touch with your professor or participate in online student forums if you need additional help.
Online Graduate Degrees Summary
Whatever online graduate degree you decide to take, make sure that you are committed and prepared to go for the long haul. In the end, you will reap the personal fulfillment and financial benefits of holding such a degree.