What online degree programs are available?
A few decades ago, online education was limited to a handful of fields and only a few degree options. Today, online degree programs are available in almost every field of study, and cover the spectrum from certificates to the PhD. Whether you are looking for a certificate or diploma or are on the long road to a doctorate, online degree programs are available through hundreds of reputable schools. These commonly asked questions about online degrees can help separate the facts from the fiction.
Do reputable institutions offer online degrees?
Online degree programs can be just as challenging and relevant as any degree earned in a classroom setting. As online degrees grow in popularity, even many storied brick-and-mortar institutions have begun to offer online courses. A 2011 report from Sloan Consortium found that 65 percent of all higher education institutions counted online learning as a part of their long-term strategy.
"The quality of the program and the quality of the school make a bigger impact than the delivery method of the course material," said Dr. Mary B. Hawkins, president of Bellevue University. "Students who learn in this environment will be able to interview competitively based on the knowledge they accumulate."
Aren't online degrees limited to only a few fields?
When online learning was first making its mark on the educational scene, only a few degree programs were offered. Over time, more online degree programs have been created in response to the need for more flexible educational options. Early degree offerings were based on programs that easily translated to online classes, such as accounting, business and human resources.
Hybrid programs were soon developed for those who could take most courses online but still had a need for clinical courses as well, such as psychology or nursing. Colleges today are experimenting with options that employ new technology, such as Adobe Connect, to create fully online programs out of what used to be possible only with hybrid education.
A 2011 report by Education Dynamics found that 70 percent of community colleges couldn't keep up with the current student demand for online offerings. This demand for online degrees means that many colleges are looking to add online degree programs to their catalogs.
What are the most popular online degree subjects?
Though online degrees are available in almost every field, there are a few programs that remain consistent in popularity among degree-seekers. Degrees related to the business field draw many students each year, including programs in marketing, accounting, human resources and management. Online degrees in education have been attracting students for years. Programs that make good use of technology, including computer science and cyber-security, are also popular options.
Degree programs in health care have been popular for decades, but the field has experienced a new surge of growth. A June 2010 study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that by 2018, 95 percent of all professional and technical occupations in health care are projected to require a college degree.
"There will be huge growth in the health sciences area," predicts Dr. Bernard Luskin, CEO and Senior Provost of Tuoro University Worldwide.
A 2011 report on online learning from the Babson Survey Research Group found that health sciences was the fastest-growing field for online degree programs.
Online degrees aren't just a fad, right?
Online degrees are definitely here to stay. Online education has been growing steadily over the last forty years and experienced a significant boom over the last decade. That trend shows no signs of stopping--in fact, taking courses through online schools is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Over 6.1 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall semester of 2010, according to the Babson Survey report.
"Blended and fully online courses will be as ordinary as taking money from a brick wall cash teller at a bank," Dr. Luskin predicted. "This was unthinkable twenty years ago and is the normal expectation today."