Want to know how to get a degree online? Follow these steps to make it happen.
Today, more than ever, getting a degree online is a popular choice among students. Not only is it easier to find online universities, you can even find some free ones! So if you’re wondering how to get a degree online, look no further. We’re going to go over everything you need to get that online degree.
Why study online?
As of 2017, more than one in four students (29.7%) are enrolled in online courses. That totals to over 6 million students. Learning online is growing more and more popular every year, and for good reason. There are many benefits to studying online. Let’s go through them:
Online degrees involve tuition and standard fees like most universities. However, learning online means you don’t have living costs associated with the school. You also don’t need to pay for transportation. That alone takes a load off of your spending.
Convenience and flexibility.
When you study online, your schedule is more flexible. You are more free to fit things into your daily and monthly routine that may not be as feasible if you were studying on-campus. For example, you can maintain a part-time or even full-time job and study at home. You can keep up with hobbies you may have and continue to have a social life that fits your schedule.
Your way, your time.
When you study online, you can decide when and where to study. Depending on your personal style of learning, you can study at a coffee shop or in your favorite chair in your living room. Perhaps you’re a night owl and like to study in the late hours. The point is, you have the freedom to choose.
In many cases, when you study on-campus you have to factor in location when you choose your courses, and this can limit your choices. Studying online, however, eliminates any worries about where your class is located. With no restrictions, you’re free to take any courses you want (aside from your mandatory courses).
Taking an online degree means you can study abroad, even if you’re not physically in the country. Want to get a degree from France? Go for it! You may be sitting at home in the US, but you’ll be affiliated with a European university. And even if you choose an American university, studying online means you have the freedom to go wherever you want. Just make sure it suits the schedule you made for yourself.
There is also growing support for online education. A 2003 report showed that more than half of academic leaders agreed that online education was equal or superior to in-person classes. And most of them acknowledge the benefits of online learning.
First steps to take
First things first, you need to decide on a major. Once you know what you want to study, you’re going to look for a university that offers that degree. Today there is no shortage of degree programs to choose from. Sometimes the more options we have, the harder the decision. So maybe you’re wondering what the best online degrees are and from there you might narrow down your options. Let’s see what they are.
Best online degrees
Successful Student has a list of the 20 best online degrees. The list is based on the best online degrees for getting and advancing in a rewarding career in today’s workforce. The listed degrees were selected based on factors like salary, growth, and relevant curriculum for education in the various careers. Let’s see what the top 10 are:
- Business Administration
- Human Resources
- Project Management
- Industrial and Organizational Psychology
- Video Game Design and Game Art
- Animation and Graphic Design
As you can see, business is the most popular online degree. That’s because it allows for a lot of versatility and you can take it in almost every direction you want to. Perfect for the entrepreneurial spirit, an online degree in business is a great choice. And if you like the sound of tuition-free online degrees, check out our Business Administration programs here at University of the People. We have Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate degrees available online and at no tuition cost.
Which school to choose?
If there’s more than one school that offers the program you want, you’ll need to narrow your options and see which school suits you best.
This list of the largest online universities might help you out. We went through all the online universities in the US and found the biggest ones. As mentioned in the article, there are reasons for why choosing the largest universities could be the right choice.
- You have more options with a bigger variety of majors and classes to choose from.
- They are more organized and have systems in place, including student resources.
- There are more students enrolled, which means you can connect and communicate with more people.
University of Phoenix is listed as the largest with 165,743 online students. Their most popular degrees are Office Management and Supervision, Behavioral Sciences, and Medical Office Assistant/Specialist.
Liberty University is the second largest with 75,044 online students. The most popular online degrees at this university are Business and Management, and Marketing.
University of the People is also an option. There are degree programs in Business Administration, Computer Science, Education, and Health Science. All the programs are completely online and tuition-free! There are only exam fees that the student has to pay.
Remember, when choosing an online school, it’s most important to make sure that it’s accredited. The U.S. Department of Education offers a database site that lets you verify universities’ credibility. So it’s worth a quick search before you enroll.
Have you taken online classes before?
For those who have never taken an online degree, it’s worth knowing what it’s like to study exclusively online. An online degree is very different from an on-campus education. It does indeed offer many plusses, but there’s always some things to consider. For those who are accustomed to face-to-face interactions and physical access to resources, studying at home might be a challenge. Here are some main differences between studying online and on-campus.
Style of communication.
While on-campus universities offer face-to-face communication, online degrees don’t. Sure, you have email and chat rooms, but for a “people person,” it might be a bit difficult. At first, at least.
Studying at home means you have fewer physical resources. For example, you don’t have an enormous school library to go to. You also won’t have the school lab (if it’s relevant to your degree).
Not having a mandatory class schedule means it’s all on you. So this may come as a shock to those who are used to having their schedules made for them. Freedom is a great thing, but it comes at a cost.
Transferring past credits
If you’ve taken some courses already, you might be able to transfer your old credits and use them towards your next online degree. Check out our article: Do college credits expire? Your guide to transfer credits for an in-depth guide on how to transfer your credits.
Applying for the program
So you have your major picked and you know what school you want to go to. You’ve passed a big hurdle! But now you have to actually apply to the program. Here’s what you need to do:
Filling out the application. Most universities make it easy for you to apply, so the application process is pretty simple. Once you’re on the university’s site, you’ll follow their clear instructions on how it works.
Sending your documents. You’re most likely going to need to send your high school transcripts and/or prior college credits that you have if you’ve taken some courses already. You will also need to show proof of identity (driver’s license, social security, etc.), and if you’re an international student, you’ll need to show proof of citizenship from your country.
Application fees. Almost all applications have a fee. It will most likely cost you between $30 and $60 per application. So if you want to apply to more than one university, keep it in mind that these are a one-time fee and you won’t be reimbursed if you don’t get accepted or if you decide you’re no longer interested.
Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to the school you applied to. Now what? You have to pay. When it comes to paying, you have some options. And it’s best to be wise about which way you go. Tuition is based on the number of courses you have and the cost of each one. In terms of paying, you can pay all upfront or you can choose installment plans which will vary according to each school.
And then there are student loans. Of course, loans have their appeal. They allow you to attend school without having the money upfront. But this comes at a price. Student debt has become a major crisis as more and more students are attending schools that are just too expensive to pay. We suggest you take a look at our article on How to Avoid Student Loan Debt. It might give you a good head start before committing to a loan that you might regret.
Tips on how to succeed at learning online
Like we mentioned above, taking a fully online degree is different from the traditional on-campus degrees and there are pros and cons to both. Since you plan on taking an online program, we want you to succeed. So we have some tips that will help you. You can also check out How to Succeed in Online Classes for even more strategies.
- Make a workspace for yourself. Your study environment is so important. Choose a place in which you can concentrate.
- Time management is key. You need to structure your time well because it’s on you to make sure you complete everything you need by the due date.
- Stay organized. Make use of apps and calendars. Technology today makes it easier to make reminders and tasks.
- Make use of all your resources. Online resources are available from your university. They are there for you to utilize.
- Get into a routine. The more you get into a routine the more likely you’ll succeed because it will become second nature.
- Ask questions. Ask your fellow students and professors. Email them, chat with them. There are no stupid questions!
Now that you know what needs to be done in order to get a degree online, we wish you luck!
“The expert at anything was once a beginner.”
Helen Hayes (American actress and author)