More and more universities, community colleges and other institutions of higher education are incorporating digital tools into their learning strategies.
Students can find hundreds of degree and certificate programs that are taught completely online and accredited by the same oversight committees as most courses taught in person. Thousands of programs across the country allow and even encourage students to complete part of their coursework through an online platform.
Students seeking to study almost any subject can find a legitimate education program offering courses or a degree in the field.
In the past, education programs taught online struggled to have the same reputation as other programs taught mostly or completely in a brick and mortar building. As technology has developed and more and more people are comfortable taking advantage of digital platforms, the quality of online education has greatly increased. Students enrolled in online programs can are able to receive the majority of the required course content and attend necessary labs, tests or other meetings at the home university or affiliate institutions.
The cost of online education programs varies greatly, most significantly according to the type of degree or certificate that will be offered. Some programs are completely free of charge. Read on to learn more about how to find the right online education program for you.
The Benefits of Online Education Programs
Instead of commuting from work or home to every class or test, students enrolled in online programs can complete all or at least the bulk of their course requirements from the comfort of their own home.
While saving money and time on the commute is a huge benefit of enrolling in an online education program, there are several other reasons many students have chosen to go completely digital for their next certificate or degree.
To attend a course in person, students must live in the vicinity of the school. For adult students with families and established careers, relocating to attend the ideal educational program may not be possible. Online programs enable students from everywhere to be able to learn and participate in some of the top educational programs in the world without uprooting their lives.
Most online programs are structured more flexibility than traditional courses, allowing for the student to have a significant level of control over his or her schedule. Even more, many online education programs cost less than the average equivalent certificate or degree program taken in person at a nearby school.
For students with disabilities and those facing other difficulties, being able to study on a flexible schedule from a comfortable place makes accessing education much more possible.
Because teachers of online programs must figure out creative ways of giving their students material that is interesting and impactful, students often receive lectures, videos and other types of course material in new ways that can be consumed more than once. This helps students who struggle with taking notes during lectures or other traditional teaching methods.
Learn About Online Certificate Programs for Short-term Study
For most areas of study, there are two basic categories of online education programs offering an academic or professional qualification. Students can choose between online programs that ultimately offer a degree and those which offer a certificate or other type of specialization in a certain area. Unlike most degree programs, certificate courses generally last a number of weeks or months instead of years.
Certificate programs generally provide a specialized look at a relatively small subject area to help students learn more about something specific in a field they are familiar with. Some certificate programs also provide more generalized programs that offer overviews of subject areas for certain groups of students specialized in other fields.
Both universities and other types of educational institutions can offer certificates for accredited courses taken partially or completely online. Professionals looking to specialize in a new subject area or expand their skillset can benefit greatly from enrolling in a good online certificate program.
People who are considering a career change or who are simply curious about a certain subject area use certificate programs to learn more about a topic before signing up for a more expensive and time-consuming degree program.
Degree Programs Taught Online
Students today can get all of the most common types of degrees by enrolling in an online degree program. Whether looking for an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate, students of most subjects can choose from degree programs taught completely or partially online at universities around the world.
Usually ranging from a minimum of two years in duration for an associate degree to at least eight years of total study for a Ph.D., online degree programs follow the same basic structure as traditional degree programs taught in person. Many online degree programs require that students take final exams and other important testing requirements in person at an accepted facility (though not necessarily the university itself).
Turning to an online degree program is a great idea for students who need the flexibility of online learning or who benefit from learning in a different environment. Students who have difficulty managing their time or learning without being in an interactive environment may not excel at an online education program.
Online programs are not any less intensive than in-person programs and can sometimes be more challenging because of the self-management required for independent long-distance learning.
It is imperative that any student who is looking into enrolling in an online degree program confirms that the course provider is accredited in the state in which it is based and/or by other applicable educational institutions. Several web-based educational providers, such as the President’s now-defunct Trump University, have been revealed as for-profit scams designed to trick enrollees out of funds without providing adequate training or final qualifications.
If enrolling in a web-based program at a school that teaches courses in person as well, it is unlikely that there will be a problem with course legitimacy. Students can check the accreditation of a program and school by searching for its name on the national list of accepted degree programs.
How to Find the Right Online Education Program for You
Finding the best online education program for your needs is a matter of clearly establishing your educational needs and priorities. If you are sure that online education will work for you, think about whether a program taught completely online or just partially online will best suit your learning style. If it is a matter of attending a program located far away from your primary residency, make sure you will not have to regularly travel to the institution base to complete the degree or certificate program.
You may also want to consider whether you will have to invest in particular equipment (digital or otherwise) to complete a given program.
Most accredited education programs require students to pay some kind of course fee for a certificate or degree. Some accredited and widely respected online certificate and degree programs can be found that are completely free of charge. Doing online research and speaking to any nearby community education counselors can help you find online programs covering the subject areas you are interested in.
Make sure to speak with representatives of a few different programs and ideally someone knowledge in the field before settling on a course program.
In the past, students hesitated to receive a certificate or degree through an online program because they feared it would not be respected or accepted as valid by their employers and others. Today, education received through online programs is no longer seen as necessarily inferior to courses taught in person. Even Ivy League schools offer online courses, certificates and degree programs for students today. Students aiming to learn more about technology and digital fields are particularly encouraged to explore web-based learning opportunities.
How to Enroll in an Online Education Program
The process of enrolling in an online education program is usually very similar to the process of signing up for a course in person. Students must get into contact with the course provider, usually by submitting his or her application to the course online. This can be done heading to the website of the school or institution, creating a profile and completing the application.
Like traditional programs, many degree or certificate-granting programs will require students to include a processing fee for their application to be processed. Students enrolling in programs taught by programs with physical campuses and only partial online course availability may need to visit the school to complete some paperwork or meet course instructors.