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Earn your degree online – A Complete Guide

Introduction – Study Online

The choice of earning degrees through an online program has been made by more and more students in recent times. More variation has been seen as to the options for how and where to study as more traditional schools add online programs to their repertoires.

For those who want to obtain a degree, but have issues with having the time or money, our recommendation is online study. There are a lot of online programs for one to choose from at any of the levels –bachelor/undergraduate, master’s, or PhD.

Online Program Search: If you are interested in an online program, you have limitless options available to you. What’s left for you to do is to search for online programs and choose the one that best suits your need.

Let us guide you with this article.

But first,

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Things to Consider Before Studying Online

The past years have seen online degree programs witness a drastic growth in popularity, and the structure of these courses has continually grown and evolved as the evolution of technology takes place.

Now, prospective students who may not be able to access higher education otherwise have resorted to online degrees which happen to be accessible and affordable. Without one ever leaving his/her home country, he/she can now earn a degree from countries around the globe.

Online programs have their advantages and disadvantages just as any educational program does have pros and cons.

None the less, the take of online programs being a right fit or not despite its pros and cons, has individualistic differences.

So, one is to take on a careful thought about the type of educational experience that he/she wants, as well as the things that are of utmost importance to him/her, before the deciding on whether or not to go in pursuit of an online degree.

Below are a few things to put into consideration before taking up an online study. Ensure that your options are weighed carefully in the determination of whether or whether not this is the best path for you.

Flexible schedules

Though rare, students may be required to be online at a specific time for a class or interaction in some courses with an instructor, but this is rare. Mostly, online courses allow one to log into the course material whenever it suits his/her schedule. As is known, deadlines are attached tohomework and other assignments but one is allowed to balance school with his/her other responsibilities due tothe flexible schedule provided by online course. These other responsibilities may include work or family life.

Availability

Annually, the number of online schools in existence have experienced increment. This insinuates one can search around for a best fitting program for him/her, whether in any of the levels, associate, bachelor, master, certificate, or even doctorate. The number of traditional institutions that now offer online programs have been on the increase one is left to choose a program among many options that exist.

Cost

Less expense is affiliated to tuition for online program than is the case in-person programs. If one possibly gets a lower tuition cost for in-person programs, added to it is the money to be saved on room, board, or commuting costs.

Access to course materials

Students taking traditional on-campus courses have to rely on their notes for class lectures to be remembered. Online courses grant you access to written or video lectures whenever they are needed, allowing much ease for studying.

Location flexibility

Because of the existence of online schools across the globe, classes can be taken from a different state or country without one having to leave home. Commonly, the only requirement to taking online course is internet access hence, it can be taken from anywhere.

No commute

For in-person programs, both time and money is spent to and from campus which bis not the case with online programs in that it allows one to spend more time studying, doing homework, or giving attention to your work and family responsibilities.

Faster completion

Online programs may give one the ability to bring a degree to completion in less time than it might take you in a traditional program. With this, one gets into the workforce much sooner and I trust that you will like that!

Improve your writing and communication skills

In that all of the interactions for an online program takes place online, clarity of communication is of much importance. Since the primary basis on which judgement will be made is on your writing, one will learn to put in best work and clearly articulate meanings.

Variety of options

Online program suits every field of study hence one will find whatever field of interest in online programs. There is basically no limit to the variety of online programs that exist.

Limited instructor/student interaction

One you may still find it difficult to engage with instructors may hold digital “office hours”. A few hours may be taken to get a response to a question, or an issue may have additional back and forth discussion on an it. Most online professors are hands off in a fair manner so difficulty exists in getting extra help or one-on-one interaction. It is usually harderdevelop mentoring and networking relationships with your professors but it doesn’t inevitably mean that this cannot be done.

Social interaction

One of the cons of online schools is that it does not offer the peer-to-peer interaction, like clubs, sporting events and social gatherings, that is offered in traditional schools. Chat rooms and online hangouts may exist alongside a discussion area where students are required to discuss about specific questions in relation to the course, but there’s more difficulty in forming meaningful bonds in online programs.

Technology requirements

Online learning experience may be inhibited by the requirements of technology in thateveryone does not have a computer in their home, or their computer may not be equipped with the latest technology. Most online programs will post the recommended (or required) technology needed to take their most online courses is posted by the online programs. By way of addition, if one is frequently dealing with computer or internet problem, he/she may be unable to complete assignments or exams as and at when due.

Campus experience

Many students enjoy extracurricular activities or clubs but this is not offered in online schools. On-campus experience is usually the desire students who are coming straight from high school but they are denied this opportunity by online programs.

Time management

Online courses might be challenging for those that have a habit of procrastination. There’sthis necessary push that some students need to get their work done but may not be offered by online programs though it provides flexible schedule.

Transferring credits

It may be slightly A slight more difficulty may be experienced intransferring online course credits to a traditional school. However, hurdles can always be posed by transferring credits from one institution to another. As many credits as possible will transfer over inspeaking with an academic advisor during the class selection process.

Financial aid

Acceptance is not given to all forms of financial aid by all online schools. Hence, if one needs financial aid to assist in paying for tuition, a careful research before sending out the applications will be required of such a person.

Stigma

Significant Improvement have been reckoned with over the past few years with regards to the reputation of online education, particularly as more and more traditional schools have started offering online degrees. However, the reputation of online schools has been misconceived in some cases, to be less reputable than traditional school. We recommend that research is made on the reputation of the institution one is considering to apply for.

Choosing an Online Program

Just as it is for any other college decision, a lot is to be considered when choosing an online degree program. This process can be an overwhelming because so many online degree programs are available. Thankfully, we’ve compiled a list of tips and considerations to help you make your decision as painless as possible.

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Finding an Online Program to Meet Your Needs

Think about your desired career.

In other make a perfect choice of your online program, passions and interests are the first step to choosing the right program. The knowledge of what subject you want to study or what career you want to pursue will be of help in narrowing down your list of program options. 

The questions you should ask yourself should border around the subjects you most enjoyed in high school or recent pursuits in your higher education, the hobbies you find happiness engaging in.

Do your research.

The creation of a shortlist of potential colleges and universities is the next to be done after the decision of what to study. Only certain online courses are offered by some institutions while you may be required by others to make a trip to campus at the beginning and/or end of the programs hence the degree requirements of each college under consideration has to be given a close check in order to determine which degree requirements can be met online from the institution of your choice, and which ones can’t.

When searching for a college or university, the questions you should compulsorily have answered by your findings about the online school are discussed below…

The questions should be on:

•        What studentships support services do you offer, if any

This borders around resources that are accessible to the international student.

•        The kind of technical support available to online students, if any

Though technology is great, it is not always reliable hence students should make sure that any program that are applying for offers technical assistance in case one has the challenge of posting an assignment or assessing a course.

•        The financial aids available, if any

You are to find out whether three are opportunities offered by the online school or whether there are opportunities open to its students to get aids financially. This is expedient because there are a lot of things to cater for with finance while pursuing an online degree.

The Difference between Full Online and Partial Online Programs

The decision of whether you prefer a fully online program or a partial, or “blended” program will also have to be made when choosing an online program. Full online programs are offered entirely online while blended programs are delivered partly online and partly on campus. A number of advantages is offered by these programs. The suggestion of research is that the combination of the strengths of traditional education and online education makes up a blended program. According to a study published by the Department of Education in 2010, it was deduced that blended learning approaches are often more efficient than traditional classes, and that the elements they offer aren’t found in 100% online or face-to-face courses.

In addition, the chance to interact face-to-face and network with each other is offered by blended programs to students. Some of the social experience of education may have to be sacrificed by students undergoing a fully online program but via blended programs, students are allowed to meet and connect with themselves both online and off, bringing about stronger professional networks.

Still, blended programs are restricted from some students, especially those trying to obtain a degree from a different country which happens to be there home country. Traditional college students find this program more popular while most nontraditional student tend to go in pursuit of fully online courses because it is more flexible. This has particular importance for students who are balancing their education with their work or family life. It is needed of a student in a blended course to know when he/she is expected to be on campus hence, such a student is required to plan ahead and be prepared. Such a student also needs to know the consequences to expect in the case of a missed face-to-face class, and whether the offer of alternatives is allowed.

Degree-Specific Considerations

The type of degree one wishes to pursue is one of the most important considerations that will help in choosing a program. For instance, one who is in pursuit of a master’s degree in marketing and communications, will only want to take a look at online schools that have been known to offer great programs in that field. How respected the program you are in pursuit of is in your prospective career field is another consideration that is of much importance. Talking to professionals who are already working in your desired field is one of the best ways to have this determined.  They are to be asked what they their thought is about the schools you’re putting into consideration. This is aimed at getting an advice from them on which program they think will be most helpful for the actualization of your goals.

Quality Considerations

In choosing an online degree, the quality of the program itself is one of the most important factors to be considered. Despite the existence of many great online degree programs, one needs to be careful of scams. We present to you, few ways to see to the determination of the quality of the programs you are considering to opt for. They include:

•        Considering the length of existence of the institution. Many buildings of colleges and universities that have been in existence for decades now offer online degree programs. Choosing to get your degree through one of these programs, already gives you the assurance of the quality of the program.

•        The relationships and partnerships within the educational community is to be considered for schools that haven’t spent too long a time with regards to its date of establishment, other institutions, employers, and alumni. As is known, a lot can be told about a program by the partnerships it maintains, the success of its students as well as its satisfaction rates.

•        The final consideration to be made is on finding out whether the program scaled through during its accreditation process. The approval of a school by an independent system of accountability and quality control entails that it is accredited hence is recognized as a legitimate institution. This is relevant, as a degree from an accredited school is looked upon with more respect by employers. The following is to be found out when looking into a school: if they are accredited, the kind of accreditation they have, and which agency (or agencies) they are accredited by.

What to Expect from an Online Program

This discusses what a student is to expect in the bid of acquiring online degree. This section discusses the following:

•        How much it will cost you to bag an online degree

•        The length of time that you will spend/ a stipulated duration to complete an online degree

•        What the series of classes one is to have will be like

We’ve got the answers to the questions you might have from this section discussed in the following,

•        Costs

•        Time Frame

•        Class and Program Structure

•        Available Assistance

Costs

A traditional college tuition is significantly higher compared to the tuition for an online degree program. In addition, since an online degree doesn’t need you to leave your home country, some of the costs associated with room and board, as well as transportation can be avoided. A careful research of each program and awareness of any extra fees charged by the school is mandatorily required of you because costs vary from program to program.

Some online programs still require students to travel to campus on several occasions hence you should be aware of that. The number of times is not specific hence there is need to factor the cost of travel into your budget.

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Time Frame

There’s variation from person to person in the time that it takes to complete an online degree. The average time it takes for the completion of an online bachelor / undergraduate degree according to Top Degrees Online is 52 months. This duration does not significantly differ from the amount of time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree from a traditional school.

Accelerated pacing is offered by some programs. This speeds up the time it takes one to earn an online degree. This pacing is not dependent on one’s ability to take classes full time and with few breaks between terms. If you are taking care of a family or working full-time, you may not have the ability to maintain that pace. Still, your time may be saved the through the flexibility of an online degree, such as travel.

Class and Program Structure

The coursework for most online programs is the same but the structure of classes is generally quite different. The structure of most programs is such that students can work at their own pace, but at there own convenient time. The online classes are structured around the following elements which include instruction, assignments, and student interaction.

The kind of student-instructor interaction that one has for an online program is not same with  a traditional school. Am online degree student will have the ability to access recorded lectures and notes at any time, with no prior schedule.

An online student receives his/her assignments either through email or through an online course management system such as Blackboard or Canvas. Completed assignments are sent to instructors via email, or assignments are just uploaded directly to the course management system.

The level of interaction with other students is not same as is seen in a traditional program, though a means of communication does exist. Taking part in group projects, and interacting with other students via chat rooms and other student forums may be required of online students. Communication can still occur through online group mailboxes or message boards.

Available Assistance

There will be variation between programs with regards to the assistance you are bound to receive. Since you are completely reliant on your technology, you should ensure that the online degree you are opting for offers technical assistance.

One of the important considerations here is whether an academic advisor will be made available to you, who can help have your schedule built. This task might be a hard nut to crack for online students because of the variation in the number of credits they’re required to take that may occur from semester to semester. The requirements will be known to the academic advisor who despite the distance, can help keep you on track. Career services may also be offered by your program, which can help you find a job following your graduation from an online school.

The choice of the pursuit of an online degree can be baffling, but the right program will aid to ease you through the process, and ensure that your college experience is just as (or more) rewarding as it would be when in a traditional the college or university of your choice.

Applying to an Online Program

The application to an online program can seem discouraging, and places a requirement for much time and effort as applying to a in-present school. Some of the tips that will help you kick off on the process of applying to an online degree program.

  • When to Apply

There’s variation in program application deadlines from one institution to the next, however, applicants choice of  programs will make the application deadline available on their website. You are to take note of these deadlines, and have your timeline planned in accordance to it. Writing the deadlines in a calendar and creating an alert on your phone can be of help to you.

  • How to Apply for an Online program

The application process for an online degree program is much similar to brick and mortar school program. The completion of the application along with any supplemental test scores, et cetera is required.  Check the application process for each of the programs you are applying to and make careful note of each of the requirements.

As an avenue to have an exceptional application in comparison to that of other applicants, we advise that you highlight your work experience. Explanation of the benefit you will bring to the program, and how you will be allowed by the program to see to the continuation of your career success. The boards in charge of admission is after knowing that you are prepared for the application of what you learn in the classroom to your work life.

An interview may be required of some of the programs you’re applying. The interview is likely to take place via an online video chat service. This is the stage at which your interviewer gets to know stuff you are made up of. You may be asked questions on your interest in studying online, and the plan on how to balance your schoolwork with the responsibilities you have to attend to daily.

Common Requirements and Fees for online program.

Most degree programs both online and off, require an application fee to cater for the cost of postage, processing, and the review of admissions forms, added to the transcripts, essays, etc. of most degree programs. These fees vary between programs and are non-refundable. You are to ensure that you’re aware of the application cost before the beginning of the process.

The range of application fees is from $30 to $60, while the fees charged by selective schools may be as much as $90.

Applying to degree programs can be daunting, but with careful planning and time management, one can get through it.

Choosing an Online Degree Level

Associate Degree

Online associate degrees commonly can be brought to completion in two years and are available for a variety of programs. In the job market, graduates of an associate degree program have higher opportunity of being hired, with special cases in technical and vocational fields, in comparison with those with only a high school diploma or GED. This degree program is a solid stepping stone for those who are on the outlook for the continuation on to more advanced degrees.

The kind of student-instructor interaction that one has for an online program is not same with  a traditional school. Am online degree student will have the ability to access recorded lectures and notes at any time, with no prior schedule.

An online student receives his/her assignments either through email or through an online course management system such as Blackboard or Canvas. Completed assignments are sent to instructors via email, or assignments are just uploaded directly to the course management system.

The level of interaction with other students is not same as is seen in a traditional program, though a means of communication does exist. Taking part in group projects, and interacting with other students via chat rooms and other student forums may be required of online students. Communication can still occur through online group mailboxes or message boards.

Bachelor’s Degree

The completion of degree programs for the Bachelor levelcan occur online in four years. The availability of Bachelor’sonline programs can be seen in almost any area of study one’s imagination can get to, for popular and non-popular courses Graduates of this degree program will find themselves having the qualification for a wide-range of jobs, and may carry on the advancement of their studies by hoping for the pursuit of a master’s degree.

Master’s Degree

This program is a valuable option to students who hope to opt in for the pursuit of education for the graduate level. The completion of an online Master’s degree programcan commonly take place in two yearsand can be accessed online in most subjects designed to allow students to continue working while completing their studies. Online master’s degrees typically take two years to complete, and are available online in most subjects.

Doctoral Degree

One of the ultimate ways to be termed excellent in a field is by obtaining doctoral degree and there are a variety of online doctorates that can be accessed by you. There’s no stipulated time required for the completion of these degrees as variation does exist, and there’s the availability of many degrees at a reasonable rate from highly recommended institutions. A wide variety of subject areas that prospective doctoral students can explore include: computer science ,business , psychology , and a wide variety of other subject areas.

Certificates

Both graduate and undergraduate students have certificates available for them online. Online certificates can substitute for a degree, or as a qualification known as standalone. There are About 5,000 online certificate programs are available to be chosen from. Many of these online certificate programslead to job opportunities asoccupational therapy assistants ,physical therapy assistants, dental assistants, and veterinary technicians.

Popular Areas of Online Study

Business

The aim of online business degree programs is to see to thedevelopment of an overall analytic, writing, and project management skills as well as an understanding of how organizations function. There are online programs for those  who haveinterest inaccounting to choose from. This is the case at all degree levels as one may be qualified for hiring after graduation as either an auditor, an accountant.For those in search of an online business degree, another a popular area of particularity is finance. Fully online finance degrees as offered by schools, being a potential route to careers in financial management, budget analysis, and financial advising. Students with thehope of going afterthepursuit of business careers in relation to management or administration might have interest in learning more about onlinehuman resources or management degrees.

Criminal Justice

For those who have interest in the pursuit of a career related to any of these or the three,  law enforcement, the correctional system, the courts, an online degree in criminal justice, or subjects related to it in one way or the other such as forensics, corrections, and criminology may be of interest too. One can learn about crime from a social perspective with an online degree in criminology, of which there are multiple levels exist, even an online doctorate. Also, one can take a frontline approach to dealing with crime by studying law enforcement online, and preparing for career in the police force or police administration. Those who haveinterest in the cracking of cases might be interest in the exploration of available online options for degrees in crime scene investigation or forensic.

Art & Design

This is open to those searching for a creative degree in art & design related areas. A popular route for online art & design students is graphics design degrees, with the availability of online graphic design degrees at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and certificate levels. A number of fine arts degrees is also availableas well as degrees in music and film production for prospective online art students.

Education

If you have passion for teaching, thepursuit of an online education degree will equip you will the capacities necessary to make a difference in the lives of others through education. There’s the full availability of education degrees online, from which degrees restricted to a variety of particularities that is large in scope will befound by students.

With elementary education degrees, early childhood education degrees, online degrees in curriculum and instruction, online degrees inadministration and leadership , higher education degrees, reading and literacy online degrees, andonline degrees in special education to choose from, the selection of an online degree program in education shouldn’t make them loose sight or focus of their career goals.

There are also the availability of online degree options at every level, from associate to doctoral. The pursuit of a degree in online education will help studentsto have their dreams their dreams of becoming teachers, principals, higher education administrators, and lots more, realized.

Liberal Studies

Are you drawn to a specific subject? Do you have the hope to have your worldview broadened and develop stronger critical thinking and communication skills? If you it’s a yes to any of these questions, then an online degree to be taken under the umbrella of liberal studies may be for a person like you.

A wide array of subjects make up the field of liberal studies. They include, from English to anthropology, physicsto mathematics, psychology to music. There’s the availability of the following degrees,  associate, bachelor’s, master’s  and doctoral, alongside certificates in liberal studies subjects in a fully online format.

Engineering

Engineering is a field that is to be explored for those with the goal of applying scientific skills to real world experience. At the introductory level for new students, online engineering programs are made available to them, with a number of options at both the associate and bachelor’s level. Online master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering are available as well for those who have more experience in the field.

A research should be carried out by Interested students on the engineering specializations that attract them, as online programs are available in areas such as electrical engineering,  civil engineering, software engineering and mechanical engineering. Work may be found at the following places: research labs, governmental agencies, large corporations, construction sites, or small companies for an online engineering degree program.

Healthcare

There is the availability of a wide range of healthcare related online degrees which include programs in nursing, pharmacy, nutrition, personal training, public health, respiratory therapy, healthcare administration and medical and dental assisting.

Through these online degree programs, students are prepared to have interest in the promotion of health and wellness to ensure that healthy living is maintained by others.

There is variation in careers in healthcare from hands-on positions, like working as a dental assistant, to more administrative positions, such as working behind the scenes for the provision of others with exceptional care. All the levels with it’s variety has the availability of an online degree. These levels include:  associate, bachelor, master, doctoral and certificate degrees to make your choice.

International Scholarship Opportunities Online

These online degree scholarships are open to Bachelor & Masters Programs and include:

  • University of the People Tuition Free Degrees scholarship
  • Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships
  • Edinburgh Global Distance Learning Scholarships
  • edX Free Online Courses at Premier Universities
  • Simone Biles Legacy Scholarship Fund
  • Emergency Refugee Assistance Scholarship Fund
  • Foundation Hoffmann Scholarship
  • UoPeople General Scholarship – open to all students

Conclusion

We trust that you are now informed on what an online degree program is all about; its pros and cons, things to consider before studying online, choosing an online program, what to expect from an online program, applying to an online program, list of available online programs for international students and list of online scholarships.

What is required of you Now, is to follow the steps here and to do the needful. Basically, become practical with the points here. With this in place, you will have the reason behind your pursuit of an online degree program and the degree to be bagged by it actualized.

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1 Comment
  1. Naila Toll says

    Very helpful!

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