Higher education has been made easier and more accessible as a result of online universities and colleges. Now, you have no excuses regarding acquiring that degree or going for that certificate because you can actually acquire that at the comfort of your home. The basic tools you need are just your internet enabled personal computer, pen and paper for jotting down points and your ability to sit at a place and learn.
With your tools, you can now have access to some of the world’s best universities. Moreover, online universities are cheaper, together with other values which make them your best bet to acquiring your degree programme. With online universities, you can balance life’s pressing demands like work and catering for your children, while studying.
Here, we want to bring to your fingertips all you need to know about the best online universities in the world. We would provide information on their cost, reasons to choose an online university and every other guideline on how you can succeed in these universities while sitting at the comfort of your home, pressing your computer.
Below are the best to online universities in the world:
- UMass Online University
UMass has about 113 online programmes in their portfolio and about 12 more that can be accessed both online and on-campus. The university is specifically for masters studies and their programmes centre around business administration, nursing and public health programmes. The online programmes are taught by the same professors who handle the on-campus programmes. Upon graduation, students are given the opportunity to come to the campus. They also have access to library resources and academic counseling.
The tuition for UMass Online University is between $125 and $1980/credit hour.
- University of Missouri
There are over 90 online degree and certificate programmes offered by the University of Missouri. Out of the 90, 9 are bachelor’s degree programme. Students are required to participate on-campus tests and hands-on learning. The same faculties that teach on-campus learning also handle online programmes. The semesters last between 8 and 16 months, though it is solely dependent on your choice of course. Also, the studies are open schedule and you can learn at your own pace. Additionally, students are taught using Blackboard, Moodle and Sakai to allow them easy access to the classes.
Tuition is $276/credit hour.
- University of Oklahoma
There are numerous bachelor’s degree programmes offered by the University of Oklahoma and they include Liberal Studies, World Cultural Studies, Administrative Leadership, and more. The online programmes are taught by over 100 experts in diverse fields. Students are assigned an advisor that would help to create a graduation plan for the students in order to speed up their learning process. University of Oklahoma is an accredited university and also favours those who wish to study while working or those with a family to take care of.
The tuition for the online programme is $306/credit hour.
- Mississippi State University Online Education
The university is designed to suit graduate students. There are various bachelors, masters and doctoral programmes offered at the Mississippi State University Online Education. Students who transfer from another accredited university must have up to 61 credits for the university to recognize such students. Lectures, here, are organised through Blackboard which is an organized systematized programme for learning.
Furthermore, online students who qualify for financial aids are also offered the privilege. This is, in addition, to various scholarship programmes offered to students. The university also imposes in-state tuition rate to all students, irrespective of their state of residency.
Tuition is $333/credit hour.
- Liberty University
Liberty University is owned by Christians and so, classes are taught from the perspective of Christianity. The university offers more than 250 online courses at all higher levels that include certificates, associates, bachelors, masters and doctoral programmes. There are more than 95 000 students who offer these online programmes at Liberty University and also enjoy the same quality of education as those who study on-campus.
Tuition is 390/credit hour
- Northern Arizona University (NAU)
Northern Arizona University offers both bachelors and masters programme which include hospitality, engineering, administration, communication, and so on. It is an asynchronous online university and flexibility of schedule is offered to online students. The online portal is open for students who wish to study at any time of the day. It is accredited by Northern Central Association of Colleges and Schools, while being recognized for their high research activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
Tuition is $425/credit hour.
- University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota offers bachelors, masters, doctoral and post-baccalaureate programmes on different online courses such as accounting, management, communications, and so on. There are also several hybrid programmes offered by the school where students can study partially online and on-campus.
Just like on-campus students, online students have access to academic advisor and numerous resources offered by the University of Minnesota Online Education. Assignments and tests are organized through Moodle, with some lectures being accessed on the school’s iTunes account.
Tuition is $92.31/credit hour.
- New Mexico State University (NMSU)
New Mexico State University offers its programme and helps you to derive the satisfaction that on-campus students enjoy. Their programmes include certification, bachelors and masters programmes. There are over 15 000 students enrolled in this online programme. The school has also received recognition from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Tuition is $221.80/course work.
- Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University offers bachelors, masters and doctoral programmes for students who choose to study online. There are also various post-graduate certificate programmes which include software engineering, soil management and wind energy. The university uses Blackboard to facilitate their programmes and make learning fun for students.
Tuition is $822.17/credit hour.
- University of Cincinnati
University of Cincinnati offers above 70 degree and certificate programmes in various academic fields like early childhood education, radiation science technology, criminal justice, and so on. It also offers online masters programme in different fields like education, taxation, pharmaceutical sciences, and so on. You will also have access to online orientation, library resources, tutoring and academic advising.
Tuition is $459/credit hour.
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Basic Requirements for an Online University
Running both online and on-campus programmes basically require the same things. Though admission requirements might vary by school, most of the degree programmes require the previous level results. For example, to offer an undergraduate programme, you must present a high school result.
Some schools also require a minimum GPA. In some cases as well, you might need to submit an essay, ACT or SAT scores and recommendation letters. To apply for an online university programme, you might also be required to pay an application that ranges from $25 – $50.
Upon receiving your acceptance letter, it might be required of you to meet the same requirements for a traditional classroom programme like maintaining a certain GPA. In a nutshell, every requirement met by on-campus university programmes are likely to be met by online programmes, though there is variance according to schools.
Why Choose an Online University?
Among the numerous reasons for choosing an online programme, one criterion stands out and that is flexibility. Online programmes offer flexibility to students, enabling them to have a choice on how to fix their schedules to accommodate their learning time as well as have time for other obligations.
If you live far from the school, you are not just saving money on commuting; you also save a lot of time and stress that would have been encountered on the way. These savings can have a positive impact on your life in the long run.
Another consideration that attracts students for online programmes is cost. It is often more affordable to enroll in distance education than to just get stuck in life, trying to figure out how to pay for complementary stuff. Online learning helps to reduce costs associated with accommodation, transportation, and so on.
If you suffer from any health challenge, online programme might be your best bet as you are limited in your mobility and would have better access to healthcare services.
Furthermore, online programmes make provisions to study part-time or complete your coursework at an accelerated pace. This also helps you to choose learning and evaluation formats that best suit your personalities. There are a lot of options here and they include taking tests, completing coursework or compiling portfolios.
There are also top-notch tutors and experts in their academic fields who handle the classes. So, this is a great opportunity to learn from the most experienced and brightest professors in your field.
A 2009 meta-study from the Department of Education proves that some students who take online courses outperform their classmates in traditional classrooms. Therefore, online university education is as effective as the tradition on-campus learning. The major difference lies in choice. You can choose what you want and the best way to learn.
Steps to Choose an Online University
To choose an online university may not be as easy as you might think. In short, it might be so easy, but choosing the best may not be that easy as there are many criteria the university must meet to guide your decisions. Below are some of them:
Consider the accreditation status
One of the top criteria to help you make the best choice of online universities is their accreditation status. Accreditation status will help you know if the school is recognized by the state board or if it is just another avenue to swindle you of your hard earned money.
An accredited university means that it met the standards that place your degree programme as a valued and acceptable programme and the university is worthy to teach that programme. With accreditation, it means that you can proudly present your certificate to your potential employers without any fear of rejection. Furthermore, if the university is duly accredited, it might have an impact on your ability to apply for a financial aid or transfer credits.
To know the accreditation status of your dream online university, visit their official website. You can also visit the country’s department of education because they have a list of the recognized regional, national and programmatic accrediting agencies. There are national or regional agencies whose duty is to evaluate universities to ensure they meet the required standards of education in that region or country. In addition, individual programmes may also be accredited by an individual board.
There are over 2000 accredited programmes online, so, you have quite a number of them to choose from. Always make sure the university you are applying for is accredited to avoid wasting your time, efforts and money.
Select a degree level
For you to select the degree level to pursue, you must know the level of education you have attained and your career goals. There are both bachelors and masters online programmes, together with online associate programmes. So, your goals will determine your degree level.
Select a major
After understanding what degree level you want to pursue, it is important to carefully select your majors. The majors to select from have great impacts on your career and future prospects. It is through your programmes that you would build the skills that would guide your choice of career and what to make out of your future.
Look through the different majors offered by different online universities and be certain they relate to your field of interest. Find out the specific required courses in each major. In addition, consider the specific skills (hard and soft skills) that would be most valuable to your current and future career. If it has no business with your potential career path, you may have to drop it.
Decide on how flexible you want your programme
Different online programmes offer different levels of flexibility. The following are the types of flexibility online programmes might offer you.
- Synchronous: here, you must attend classes, view lectures, partake of group chats and conversations and complete your assignments at the time scheduled for them.
- Asynchronous: here, there are regular deadlines given for you to complete your assignments, reading, listening to lectures (or viewing them, depending on whether they are audio or video), as well as participate in group discussions. You can also complete your tasks any time you wish, but make sure you do so before the due date.
- Open schedule: with open schedule, you can begin your programme at any time of your choice. However, you must complete your assignments at a set time based on when you commenced your learning. One disadvantage here is that you may not have the luxury of discussing and interacting with other students.
- Fixed-time schedule: this option leaves you with little or no choice of learning at your own time. The programme allows you to access the academic materials from your computer as well as partake of the class at the time scheduled for it. You might miss your lectures if you are not available at the scheduled moment. Additionally, there is no need for you to have a physical contact with your lecturers or course mates in this kind of schedule.
- Hybrid online courses: in this case, your study materials and instructions are made available online and you can learn remotely too. However, you can meet with your lecturer and course mates once in a while in the course of the programme.
Consider the amount the programme costs
There is no doubt that obtaining a degree pays off in the long run. According to Social Security Administration, male graduates earn, on the average, $900 000, while their female counterparts earn $630 000 over the course of their lifetime. This does not mean that some females do not earn more than some males. Individual earnings vary based on the level of education, course of study, career and gender.
Similarly, the cost of online university education can vary widely. You have to also put into consideration that the cost of education has skyrocketed over the last decade. It does not also mean that online programmes are far cheaper than traditional on-campus programmes (though they are cheaper in some cases, depending on the programme and university of study too). However, it will save you a lot of stress, cost of commuting to and fro school as well as give you flexibility to manage work and family.
Consider if the school hosting the online programme is within your state or faraway
Everyone knows that taking online programmes means that you have no business with attending classes in person. Hey, it is not always like that. There are schools that require your presence once in a while: for examination or other purposes. So, you have to put into consideration if you will be able to make it to the campus if duty requires you to do so.
Paying for an Online Programme
To earn an online degree does not come cheap. You’ve got to have some money in your account before launching out. You could pay from your pocket using savings, loans, or you may seek financial assistance from your school or other bodies. With financial assistance, you can take care of your tuition, housing, feeding, and other expenses.
Some online schools could allow you to pay in installments on a monthly basis or quarterly, as the case may be. However, if you can pay a lump sum for each semester or session, it is not bad as well. The deferred payment plan may incur some interests and you must finish the payment before the end of the semester.
The financial aids you might need could be in form of grants, fellowships, scholarships or loans. However, they are highly competitive and you may not be so lucky to obtain one, reason you must have some money in your pocket before setting out to acquire an online degree.
How does Online Programme Work?
Students learn better in online programmes with the aid of computers and internet-enabled gadgets. You do not need to attend classes on the campus in person, except in some cases. You can visit the school’s website on all the information you need to know, especially, with regards to course contents. Included in the curriculum are lectures, interactive sessions, quizzes and assignments.
Most of the online courses are run on a weekly schedule. However, only a select few require that you be in a specific place and at a given time. These exceptions are noted in the schedule when you register. So, it is not going to be a nasty surprise.
Interestingly, most online programmes have orientation materials that are posted in Blackboard. Assuming you are just new to online programmes, your school might organize an in-person Blackboard-specific orientation during the first week of resumption. You will be shown how to log in, submit your assignments, and every other thing you need to know about your online programme. It is recommendable for you to take this online orientation, ask all possible questions, in order not to encounter any hitch while lecture is going on.
In addition, there are a variety of university degree options online and they include certificate, bachelors, masters and doctoral programmes. You also have so many available subjects online, even the hardest ones like health sciences, criminal justice, communications, education, nursing, and so on. Upon completion of your degree programme, you are awarded with a certificate equivalent to that of your on-campus peers. One beautiful thing is that your online degree certificate may not specify that it was acquired online.
Videos, audios and downloadable PowerPoint presentations are the media used to carry out the lectures by professors and instructors. There also discussion boards where students can interact with their peers an instructors to discuss assignments, lectures.
Typically, you are required to complete your assignment offline and submitted through the course management systems. The tests may take place online with time limits assigned to them. Some schools also required their students to take proctored exams at approved testing centres.
You also have the opportunity to view or work on your course materials any time or day you wish. You can communicate with your instructors and fellow students via live chats, emails or forum postings. In case you encounter any problems, do not hesitate to contact your instructor. Even if class is not in session, you can still reach out.
In conclusion, the content of an online degree programme is the same as the traditional on-campus programmes, however, they both differ in delivery of course materials, class interactions and methods. To derive the best out of your online classes, it is advisable you have a laptop or desktop, instead of using any kind of phones. All online courses use Blackboards to manage contents, communication and assignments. However, all online courses are not designed the same way, the instructors and tutors mostly choose how best to run the classes.
If you long to take an online university education, due to your schedule, go ahead and do so. You will enjoy basically everything you would have enjoyed in a traditional classroom. Make sure you do some research on a number of individual universities to make a choice. Do not be limited in your knowledge; everything is available on the school’s official website.