How to Find the Right Online Degree Program


By University Alliance

Advanced education is quickly becoming almost a requirement for many jobs. As a busy professional, an online degree program may be a more convenient option than an on-campus study. However, finding the right online degree program is also an important step to career advancement because it can be beneficial to have the skills and respected credentials employers seek.

Online Degree Program Basics

In most cases, the fist step toward enrolling in a degree program is to research the online degrees that are being offered. It's also important to differentiate one discipline from another, because not all online degree programs can lead to the upper-level jobs and career-building advantages you may be seeking.

What Do You Need to Know About Online Degree Programs?

  1. Various aspects of online programs - such as admissions requirements and student-teacher ratios - can vary between schools.
  2. Not all online degree programs may be accredited.
  3. Some programs require students to read course materials online, while others offer professor-led classes via streaming video.
  4. Not all degree programs can be completed 100% online; some may require students' physical attendance on campus.
  5. Some classes have required log-in times, while others are flexible and allow students to set their own schedules.

It may be wise to review the details for each online degree program you're considering to ensure it fits your needs and accommodates your schedule. You might decide against a program that requires students to attend frequent weekend seminars or travel to a campus to take exams.

Importance of Regional Accreditation

If you're going to put the time and effort into earning an online degree, you should consider how your education investment can pay off. One important thing is to research about an online degree program and whether or not the school is regionally accredited.

What is accreditation? Accreditation is a process that ensures a university's programs meets specific standards. When a university undergoes accreditation, its policies, faculty, curriculum and staff are scrutinized. Regional accreditation represents the highest level a university can attain, and is recognized throughout the United States.

Who can grant regional accreditation? Verify that the online degree program is offered through a university recognized by one of six regional accreditation agencies that both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognize:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Why is regional accreditation important? It means you can trust in the university, the program and the degree. Accreditation can bring certain advantages for financial aid and may allow you to transfer credits more easily. It can also mean that the online degree program is considered valid by employers and other schools - and that it's no different from earning a degree on campus at a traditional brick-and-mortar university.

What if my university is not accredited? A degree may not be regarded as valid if an employer suspects you earned it from a non-accredited university or 'diploma mill.' This can lead to being denied a job or promotion, or even being fired if an employer discovers your degree was not granted by a legitimate, accredited university.

Don't deny yourself the confidence and career advantages that can come with completing an online degree program through a regionally accredited university. Generally, it's essential to check out each school's accreditation when researching online degree options.

Advantages of Name Recognition for Online Degree Programs

Some employers may look for recognizable school names to signify an education. It may be a good idea to seek out a school that is widely-known and nationally-ranked by a reputable source, such as U.S. News & World Report. A school with a recognizable name can offer many benefits, including:

  • Trust: Completing an online degree program through a university that has existed for many years-with an outstanding reputation and regional accreditation may inspire trust among potential employers. It can also help prove that you received a high-quality education.
  • Ease: Securing the in-demand jobs may be easier when your online degree program was completed through a recognized university. While online learning is becoming much more widely accepted, a well-known name on your résumé may eliminate the distrust some people have of online learning.
  • Pride: You may feel pride knowing your online degree is from a widely-recognized university with a long history of successful alumni.

Advance Your Career by Completing an Online Degree Program

Now can be the time to turn your dreams of a successful career into reality. Advancing your education can help enhance your job opportunities, and with online learning, you can earn your degree on your time schedule. When you seek out a 100% online degree program from a regionally accredited, nationally-ranked university, personal and professional growth can be within reach.

Category: General