What is an Online Degree?

Digital technology has taken higher education in a direction only imaginable decades ago. Lectures, homework, projects and tests traditionally part of on-campus college learning programs can now be completed virtually from home, the library, coffee shop or anywhere you can plug into the Internet. In fact, you can receive an online degree without ever stepping foot on a college or university campus.

Popularity of Online College Courses

More students are earning their college degrees online than five years ago, according to a study by re:fuel. Between 2008 and 2013, the number of students taking at least one online college course nearly doubled from 23 percent to 45 percent. There are many reasons why students are turning to online education:

  • It’s convenient: No traffic or early morning classes; students can attend school in their pajamas if they want.
  • Online schools are open 24/7: Students can access information any time of the day.
  • Cost: Earning an online degree is cheaper than at a brick-and-mortar school.
  • Content and lessons are readily available: Because everything is digital, there are a limitless number of resources for each student.
  • Easier to balance work and home life: Students can take classes when they are not working or with their families.
  • Technological edge over some traditional schools: Online learning students are exposed to cutting edge technology and programs and the skills to use them.
  • Accepted by employers: More companies have accepted that online college degrees are just as legitimate as traditional diplomas.

Where to Earn a Degree Online

Online degrees are a great way to increase your job and skill potential as well as meet career goals. Accredited college degrees can help you find the job of your dreams and invest in your future.

Check with your local college or university to determine if it offers an online program that fits your needs. There are several reputable online schools that offer comprehensive and diverse online degree programs:

  • Westwood College offers online bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice, design and more.
  • Capella University has masters and doctorate degree programs in psychology and human services available.
  • Kaplan University has various online college degrees available in just about every subject you can think of.

Earn an Online Degree for Little or No Money

While it pays to get a college degree nowadays, there are different types of programs available that require little or no tuition costs. Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) are a relatively new phenomenon offered by some of the most elite U.S. colleges and universities. They originally began as non-credit courses a few years ago, but in a growing number of cases, students are earning certificates of completion and college degrees.

After MOOCs were introduced, some colleges and universities started offering competency-based learning programs. These are similar to online college degrees, but instead of earning credits toward a diploma, students are awarded degrees based on how competent they are on a certain subject matter. Both types of online learning programs are growing in popularity because besides being as convenient as other online degree programs, these also have little or no costs associated with them.

Impact on the Future of Higher Education

Incorporating online degree programs into public and private colleges and universities will affect their enrollment numbers in years to come. Because more individuals are working non-traditional hours, students need flexibility to fit classes into their schedules. Online colleges can help with that.

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