Where Should You Get a Master’s Degree?
Can you earn a master’s degree online?
In almost every field, the answer is yes!
Today’s colleges recognize that most adults – particularly those who are already established in their careers – cannot just put their lives on hold in order to further their education. For this reason, schools have adjusted their programs and made it possible to earn a master’s degree in nearly any field through an online format.
Some of the most popular online degree programs are in:
- Public Administration / Social Services
Some fields, however, simply don’t lend themselves to online learning. For instance, many medical programs are not available in a fully online format because students need to be trained to use specialized equipment. If you’re looking to further your education in the medical field, it is likely that many of your courses will be available online, but some others will require you to attend class on campus or in another professional setting. Even graduate students in a hybrid program like this will benefit from the flexibility and other perks associated with fully online degree programs.
What is the difference between an Online Master’s Degree and a Traditional Master’s Degree?
The primary difference between online learning and traditional, in-the-classroom learning is the format – how the material is delivered to the student. Which format is best for you is really a matter of personal preference.
But there are important differences that you should understand in order to make an informed decision about whether you want to pursue your degree online or in a classroom.
Online Master’s Degrees:
- Allow you the flexibility to study anywhere, anytime – whether you’re laid up in a hospital bed, sight-seeing around the world or just commuting to and from your 9-5 job
- Allow you to work at your own pace, so you can fly through your degree program or scale back when life gets hectic
- Make it possible to enroll at programs or courses anywhere without having to move
- May cost less than traditional programs
- Don’t subject you to long commutes or parking hassles
- Connect you with students around the world through classroom forums, etc.
But remember, even with all those advantages, getting a master’s degree online will be tough. You will need to stay on top of things and keep yourself organized so you don’t fall behind!
Traditional Master’s Degree programs:
- Provide a structured schedule
- Allow you to interact face-to-face and network with professors and classmates
- Have more safeguards such as reminders for assignments, exams, etc.
For some students, these factors are absolutely essential to their academic success.
However, traditional, in-the-classroom learning lacks flexibility! You will be limited to schools in your proximity and must deal with obstacles such as childcare, work schedules, commute, illness, and so on, which can make it difficult to attend on-campus classes.
As you can see, there are pros and cons to both. There truly is no right or wrong way. You will have to self-reflect and ask yourself some tough questions in order to figure out which learning format works best for you, fits within your lifestyle, and will help you reach your goals.
Do online master’s degrees look bad? Is an online master’s degree as good as an on-campus degree? OR Are Online Master’s Degrees credible?
An online master’s degree earned from an accredited university is just as credible, legit, and highly regarded as a master’s degree that was earned on campus. In fact, unless you attended an online-only university or you specify it in your resume, potential employers will have no way of knowing that you earned your degree online!
What makes a degree creditable – be it online or traditional – is accreditation. To be accredited, schools must meet very strict standards established by a board or agency.
In the U.S. there are two types of accreditation:
- Regional – the most widely respected; more than 85% of all colleges in the US are regionally accredited
- National – usually for-profit schools, vocational or technical programs
To find out if a school or program you are considering is accredited, try searching the U.S. Department of Education’s database.
How can I find the best online master’s programs?
There are many top-notch online colleges out there, but not all will be a good fit for you or help you reach your career goals.
When considering a program, here are some questions you should try to answer:
- What are your professional goals?
- Does the school offer the master’s program you’re looking for?
- As an online learner, are there times you will need to be on campus for an event?
- How will classes fit into your day-to-day schedule?
- How long will it take to complete the program? Can you take classes at your own pace and/or are there accelerated options?
- Is the school accredited?
- Does the school have a positive reputation?
- After earning your master’s, will you receive the raise, promotion, or new responsibilities you are seeking immediately?
- Does the school offer the support programs – tech support, career counseling, access to online libraries, tutoring, etc – that you may need?
- What kind of financial aid is available?
- Is your employer supportive of you furthering your education in this way?
As you consider these questions and narrow down your list, you may also wish to consult college rankings and reviews online. Gather as much information as you can to ensure that you find an online master’s degree program that will help you achieve your goals.