5 Tips for Choosing an Online Degree Program
The number of online degree programs is growing. For the third consecutive year, U.S. News and World Report has released its rankings of the best online degree programs. The rankings list provides a good list of schools that offer online degree programs, but because most students don’t choose a program solely based on its ranking, we’ve gathered five tips to help you choose an online degree program.
1. Confirm the program’s accreditation.
To ensure you’re getting a quality education, make sure the program you choose has the proper accreditation. In most cases, the academic program, in addition to the college, should be accredited. Why is this important? Because some employers hire graduates from accredited colleges only, and some fields require graduation from an accredited program in order to be eligible to take licensing exams.
2. Check the degree requirements closely.
Some programs promote “online degrees” where only the major-specific courses, not the general education courses, are offered online. Other programs may require you make a trip to campus at the beginning and/or end of the programs. And still other programs are offered entirely online. Find out what degree requirements can be met online, and which ones can’t.
3. Ask about student support services.
Make sure there’s someone at the university who can help you if you need it from answering questions about class registration or program requirements to accessing the library’s electronic resources or addressing any unexpected academic challenges you experience during the program.
4. Learn about technical support.
We’ve all been there when a must-see video just won’t load online or when a program crashes our computer for some unknown reason. Ask if there’s technical assistance available in case you have trouble accessing a course, posting homework or posting required discussion posts to the course’s message boards.
5. Find out about financial aid.
The amount of financial aid available to students in online programs varies by school, so check to see what type of aid is available throughout your entire online degree program.