How to Find the Right Online Degree Program
Advanced education is becoming a must-have qualification for most high-paying jobs. When you're a busy professional, an online degree program is often the most convenient option. However, finding theright online degree program is essential to career advancement - because it's never been more important to have the skills and respected credentials employers seek.
Online Degree Program Basics
The fist step is to carefully research online degree programs. It's important to know how to differentiate one from another, because not all online degree programs will lead to the top-level jobs and career-building advantages you're seeking.
What Do You Need to Know About Online Degree Programs?
- Various aspects of online programs - such as admissions requirements and student-teacher ratios - vary greatly between schools.
- Not all online degree programs are accredited.
- Some programs simply have students read course materials online, while others offer professor-led classes via streaming video.
- Not all online degree programs can be completed 100% online; many require students' physical attendance on campus.
- Some online classes have required log-in times, while others allow students to set their own schedules.
Carefully review the details for each online degree program you're considering to make sure it fits your needs. You might decide against a program that requires you to attend frequent weekend seminars or travel to a campus to take exams.
Importance of Regional Accreditation
If you're going to put in the time and effort to earn a degree online, you'll want to make sure your education investment will pay off. So, the first thing you should research about an online degree program is 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 all scrutinized. Regional accreditation represents the highest level a university can attain, and is recognized throughout the U.S.
Who can grant regional accreditation? Make sure that your 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 your degree. Accreditation brings certain advantages for financial aid and allows you to transfer credits more easily. It also means that your online degree program is considered valid by employers and other schools - it is the same as a degree earned on campus at a traditional brick-and-mortar university.
What if my university is not accredited? Your 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 good job or a promotion - or even being fired if an employer discovers your degree was not granted by a legitimate, accredited university.
Why work toward a degree that won't be taken seriously? Don't deny yourself the confidence and career advantages that come with completing an online degree program through a regionally accredited university. It's essential to check out each school's accreditation when you're researching online degree options.
Advantages of Name Recognition for Online Degree Programs
Many employers look for recognizable school names to signify a superior education. 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 offers these advantages:
- Trust: Completing an online degree program through a university that has existed for many years-with an outstanding reputation and regional accreditation - inspires trust among potential employers. It proves that you received a top-quality education, rather than settling for an inferior degree or certificate.
- Ease: Securing the best jobs is 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 eliminates the distrust some people have of online learning.
- Pride: You'll feel better 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
Turn your dreams of a successful career into reality. Advancing your education can enhance your job opportunities - and with online learning, it's never been more convenient. When you seek out a 100% online degree program from a regionally accredited, nationally ranked university, greater success is within reach!