Learn How 6 Professionals Turned Their Careers Around With Online Healthcare Degrees


What do a mortgage broker, operations consultant, two registered nurses, a cancer survivor, and a travelling military wife have in common? Each of them was able to fulfill their careers aspirations in healthcare with a degree they earned online.

With the industry expanding, jobs in healthcare may be just right for those who have a strong sense to serve people and help abate suffering. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.4 million new jobs are likely to be added to the healthcare industry between 2016 and 2026.

If you are interested in a career in healthcare, you’d be happy to know that people enter this career from all walks of life, in all stages of life, and for all kinds of different reasons. These 6 people share their journey in their own words. Read what they were able to accomplish!

Ever thought life was going nowhere?

Meet Amy Young. Amy traveled the world for over two decades with her husband and their three children. “As a military family we relocated every two or three years, and my attempt at getting a degree was getting nowhere. Just as soon as I enrolled in college, it was time to move again, and the next college would not accept the credits, so I always ended up with many ‘floating’ credits.”

Ever since she was young she had an interest in healthcare which led her to enroll in an online associate degree program in health services administration. An online degree program allowed her to juggle work and study. She says, “I was able to work and take college classes at the same time, and at my convenience. I could be drinking coffee, eating, watching TV or listening to music at any time of day or night while ‘attending’ class online. Many times I was online working on a paper in my pajamas at 2:00 AM!”

Did it pay off? Amy Young certainly thinks so, “I obtained the knowledge necessary to open a nonprofit organization that helps low income and uninsured women receive free mammograms. I was also able to move into administrative positions and receive promotions or a higher pay rate than my coworkers.”

Words of wisdom: “Online degree programs are a wonderful way to obtain your degree if you are focused, committed and organized. If you have a tendency to procrastinate and need a little push to meet your deadlines, you may want to consider taking most of your classes on campus, and maybe one class online to ‘test the waters’ and yourself. If you need to work or need more flexibility with your time schedule, taking an online class is the best way to go. This is especially true for young stay-at-home moms.”

When life gives you lemons, what do you do?

Meet Jeff Solheim, a lymphatic cancer survivor who started his career in nursing and eventually became the founder and director of the nonprofit, Project Helping Hands, an organization that sends medical teams to developing countries. He started doing speaking engagements including motivational speaking and commencement speeches but felt the lack of a degree. He explains, “I started feeling like a bit of a hypocrite, I felt if I was going to continue to speak, I would need to practice what I preach.

He knew if he went back to school it would have to be a program that gave him the flexibility he needed, “My life was very full at the time. I was speaking professionally and running three companies, so I knew taking time to go back to school was going to be a challenge I would have to figure out how to balance.”

His online master’s degree in nursing gave him the credentials he needed. He says, “Although I had already established my career without my master’s degree, having my master’s has increased my confidence so I can better practice what I preach. When I submit my credentials for a textbook, I know that I have the proper credentials for what I’m doing.”

Words of wisdom: He has a few words of caution for individuals thinking of online degrees, “It takes self-discipline to be successful when deadlines are not necessarily as fixed as in traditional education. My advice is to make sure you have the self-discipline to stay on track.”

More than two decades and still in the same job?

Meet Joseph Julian, a registered nurse for more than 20 years and a hospital supervisor for three years when he enrolled in an online nursing degree program. The school, whose program generally takes four years of full-time study to complete, accepted 30 credits of previous coursework allowing him to earn his Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) in three-and-a-half years of part-time study, “We had a new chief nursing officer/ V.P. of nursing who desired her leadership staff be a minimum of bachelor’s degree-certified. This is also a requirement of those hospitals seeking to apply for ‘magnet’ status.”

Despite working 12.5-hour shifts, Joseph Julian managed to get a majority of his schoolwork in while his children were at school and his wife working so they still managed some family time. “The course load was very reasonable and my advisor was great in helping me choose classes. The work was challenging but rewarding; the knowledge I gained from each class was applicable to my job and even my personal life. It also surprised me how well thought-out the program was in terms of the curriculum, course delivery and ways to pursue your clinical experiences.”

Words of wisdom: “I feel associate-level nursing programs are basic preparation for the NCLEX-RN exams and a basic working knowledge, but a bachelor’s degree is necessary in today’s healthcare world. This degree is a stepping stone for advance practice practitioners such as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists or clinical nurse specialists. Take it from someone who has been a nurse for 25 years now: you can never regret getting it. A BSN can only help your career.”

Three years, two degrees, one class at a time

Meet Linda Rich, an operations consultant at a physical therapy rehabilitation management company. Linda travels five days a week and helps hospitals and other facilities manage their rehab programs. In three years, she earned both a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management and a master’s degree in human resources. She explains why she chose the degrees she did, “I looked at the healthcare industry — there are a lot of MBAs and people managing the business. But in my opinion, human resources are what drive our business. I felt like there were already a lot of people tending to the business, so I decided to focus on how to improve human resources.”

She explains how she managed to fit two degrees in such a short span of time while still working, “I started my bachelor’s degree program but life just kept getting in the way. I was never able to finish it, though I only had one course left to complete. Because so much time had lapsed, I had to retake some courses. I took one class at a time, most of the time. There were two or three times that I took two classes at once, but it was a little more than I could handle. One class really worked for me and kept me going.”

Words of wisdom: “You need to first determine your needs. What kind of time off do you have? How is this going to fit into your schedule? Choose the program that fits you. They’re not all the same. Some require you to be in front of a webcam at a certain time to be part of a true classroom setting. That doesn’t give you much flexibility. Choose the program that gives you the advantage to tend to your needs and be able to better your career at the same time.”

Time for a second career?

Meet V.J. Sleight who had been working as a mortgage broker for over 20 years. The profession allowed her the time and freedom to pursue her passion of helping others quit smoking. But she says, “There were several times where my lack of a formal education had limited my opportunities.” Sleight lost out on job opportunities because she didn’t have a degree even though she had the experience and knowledge about cessation. On one occasion she says, “I was hired to give a talk to doctors and at the last minute had to find another speaker to share the platform because I didn’t have a degree. So I didn’t want the lack of a formal education to be a hindrance.”

Sleight decided to go back to school beginning with just one class to earn her online master’s degree inhealthcare. “When I started, I knew that eventually I wanted to write books and deliver talks to both smokers and healthcare professionals about cessation.”

“For me there was no typical day, which is why online was perfect for me. I am very disciplined, so I would read/research/write whenever I had free time. Sometimes that was in the middle of the night — having online library access was great.”

How did earning this online degree help Sleight? “Probably the biggest benefit is the confidence my degree gives me. My educational credentials are no longer questioned, and the degree rounded out my knowledge about cessation.”

Words of wisdom: “Know your endgame. If you don’t know how you can use your degree, having an online degree might not help you. Find an accredited school, and be honest: If you can’t work independently or you need someone looking over your shoulder, online education is not for you.”

Nursing, or business? Or both?

Meet Alicia Sable-Hunt, a registered nurse who dreamed of creating a delicious nutrition bar that met the specific dietary needs of cancer patients. She had only one problem: her bachelor’s degree in nursing hadn’t included any business classes. She decided to earn an MBA in marketing online before entering the business world. Today, she’s the president and founder of Sable’s Foods and Edwards-Hunt Group, a medical consulting group. “My inner drive to learn and experience combined with an entrepreneurial spirit drove me to continue my education.”

How was her experience? “To sum it up: exhilarating, exhausting, lonely, and the best and worst time of my life. The time and commitment required to do both at the same time was exhausting and lonely. I spent 18-20 hours per day, in an office (Edwards-Hunt Group) or kitchen (Sable’s Foods), building my businesses. There was no time for a vacation or holiday, very little time for friends and family, all of which leads to a very lonely existence. But the end result is two businesses that I am proud of. The sacrifice was worth it.”

Words of wisdom: “It is critically important to perform a realistic self-assessment. An individual needs to know what motivates them in a scholastic environment (e.g. do they need the structure of attending a moderator-led class in a physical location three times per week), how they absorb information (e.g. visual vs. reading vs. lecture) and their commitment level (e.g. include the time and cost of commuting to a class into the decision).”


  • Healthcare Occupations, Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2019, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm

Majoring In Uncertainty: 10 Popular College Majors For The Undeclared


Choosing a major is serious business. After all, what you chose to study — and what degree you eventually earn — can set the course for your entire professional life. It can take some time to get it right, even among the best prepared students: according to Purdue University, studies suggest over half of students change majors at least once over the course of their college careers. While there is no harm in playing the field, so to speak, TIME notes that major indecision is one of the factors that has turned the “four-year” degree into more of a five- or six-year degree for many students. College is an investment, so it can quite literally pay off to get your major right the first time. If you’re still on the fence, here’s a rundown of 10 popular college majors compiled from Princeton Review and some schools that offer them.

10 popular college majors (and schools that offer them)

  • Biology: Forget about that frog you dissected in high school: biology majors walk away from graduation with a deep understanding of life systems and processes for a wide breadth of organisms and can often specialize in a particular branch of the field, like marine or evolutionary biology. They may go on to lead field research, work in a lab or head a biological campaign to save the world. The University of Pennsylvania offers undergraduate and graduate biology programs that may help prepare students for these and other roles. Students can train under accomplished faculty and participate in the school’s expansive research programs.
  • Business: All industries rely on savvy business professionals, so majoring in business can open a lot of doors. Many programs allow students to specialize in a particular area of business and business schools often coordinate internships and other opportunities for students to acquire real-world experience. The University of Wisconsin – La Crosse’s business administration program is professionally accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and according to its website, strives to help students develop the business foundation they need to succeed in the workplace. The undergraduate program offers eight majors ranging from accountancy and finance to marketing and international business.
  • Communications: Ever wondered what you can do with a communications degree? The short answer: Plenty. Yes, communications majors can go on to become writers or news reporters, but they can also become political speech writers, marketing specialists, public relations pros or even sportscasters. Drexel University offers both online and campus-based communications programs, both of which emphasize journalism, design, public relations and communication technologies. According to its official website, graduates should walk away with valuable, career-ready skills.
  • Computer Science: You don’t have to be a geek to know that computers have become an essential part of our culture. Computer science majors develop a thorough understanding of computer technology and how humans interact with it. Courses can touch on topics like data structures, artificial intelligence and computer language theory. Princeton University’s computer science department offers undergraduate, graduate and even interdisciplinary degree programs. In addition to honing their skills in class, students often have the opportunity to participate high-tech research in areas like 3-D design, bioinformatics, functional programming and more.
  • Economics: Some say money makes the world go round, but few understand how or why better than economics graduates. Economics majors can walk away from school knowing how to analyze and predict things like interest rates, inflation and the stock market. Oregon State University’s undergraduate economics programs help give students the mathematical and theoretical tools they need to accomplish these feats, and even offers the option to earn a degree online in three concentrations: economics; managerial economics; and law, economics and policy.
  • Education: Teaching is often considered among the noblest of professions. For those looking to join the next generation of educators, earning a degree in education is one route to gaining a teaching license. The University of Oregon’s Department of Education Studies offers a Master of Education degree that can lead to licensure in Oregon. The program is split into two tracks: Early Childhood/Elementary and Middle/High School, and also allows students to take courses relevant to their desired field of teaching. In addition, it is the only program in the state to integrate English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) training. The department also offers a non-licensure bachelor’s program and a Ph.D. in critical and sociocultural studies in education.
  • English: People often assume that English majors spend most of their time reading and writing, and while may be true to some extent, that perception does not do the discipline justice. English programs teach students how to communicate effectively, think critically and develop a refined sense of what it means to be human. The University of Illinois in Springfield has been teaching English students these skills for decades. Today it offers both campus-based and online English degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, not to mention professional and teaching credentials. Students can even participate in a number of English-related clubs, including the Sigma Tau Delta international English honor society.
  • Nursing: An unknown person once said, “Save one life you’re a hero. Save 100 lives, you’re a nurse.” Needless to say, nursing is important and often gratifying work. In addition to providing basic medical care, nurses answer patients’ questions and help them and their families cope with what can be a scary situation. Clarkson College offers a number of nursing programs that should suit most students’ professional goals and experience levels. Students can even complete some nursing programs partially online. In fact, U.S. News & World Report ranked Clarkson College’s online graduate nursing degree programs fourth in the nation in 2013.
  • Political Science: Have you ever had a heated political debate with a friend (or foe) and walked away feeling like you missed your calling? By majoring in political science, you can develop the know-how to flex your political savvy at dinner parties — or in a meaningful career. The online bachelor’s program in political science offered by Penn State World Campus can help students learn the ins and outs of politics, public policy, foreign affairs and more in a convenient format. Students can rest easy knowing that online degree programs at Penn State are highly regarded: In 2013, U.S. News & World Report ranked Penn State World Campus’ online bachelor’s degrees 16th in the nation.
  • Psychology: Not all psychology graduates end up counseling patients who spill their metaphorical guts on big leather couches, though clinical therapy is a popular career path. For example, some may go on to help companies promote happier and more productive work environments as industrial-organizational psychologists or use their psychology powers to study consumer behavior for a marketing firm. UC Berkeley offers a diversity of psychology programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, some of which may be completed online. Because Berkeley is an advanced research institution, students may also get a chance to participate in important studies.

“How to pick the right major and more,” cco.purdue.edu, 2013. https://www.cco.purdue.edu/Student/major.shtml
“The Myth of the Four-Year College Degree,” business.time.com, 10 January 2013. http://business.time.com/2013/01/10/the-myth-of-the-4-year-college-degree/
“Top 10 College Majors,” princetonreview.com, 2013. http://www.princetonreview.com/college/top-ten-majors.aspx
“Pennsylvania State University — University Park,” colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com, 2013. http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/pennsylvania-state-university-main-campus-214777/overall-rankings
“Clarkson College Online Graduate Nursing Program Receives Top Ranking in U.S. News & World Report,” clarksoncollege.edu, 15 January 2013. http://www.clarksoncollege.edu/aboutus/news/pressreleases/details/?newsid=80

Note: At the time of publishing, the information in this article was deemed to be accurate. However, accreditation status and program offerings can change over time, so please check with each school for the latest information.

Are You Making One Of These Financial Aid Mistakes?

Student debt is rising. According to the Federal Reserve, the students owed $1.48 trillion in the second quarter of 2019. Forbes reports that having huge amounts of student debt can have detrimental effects on individual lives after graduation as they delay important financial decisions and milestones due to it. To make matters worse, a survey by PR Newswire notes that while three quarters of borrowers found obtaining financial aid for college was easy, 49 percent were unsure of how much money they had to repay every month.

Understanding financial aid can be tricky, but it doesn’t take a math major to recognize that many college students are in over their heads in debt. Although many students must turn to loans to finance their degree, knowing the basics of financial aid can help you keep debt to a minimum and be prepared for repayment once your loan comes due.

5 Financial Aid Mistakes to Avoid

1. Letting the school’s financial aid letter do the math for you

The financial aid offer letter may gloss over the true cost of college to present a rosy image of affordability. New America and uAspire analyzed thousands of financial aid offer letters and found that they lack clear terminology and include plenty of jargon that can cloud the actual amount of financial aid you are being offered. In fact, they found that 455 colleges that offered unsubsidized loans used 136 different ways to describe them and 24 of these did not include the word ‘loan’ at all!

Additionally, they may not include the full cost of attendance (COA), so students are left unsure about how much things like books, supplies, transport and other factors may cost them. It’s up to you to calculate the total cost attending college along with direct payments and loans.

2. Not applying for FAFSA on time

NerdWallet reports that as much as $2.3 billion in free federal grant money was left unclaimed by the high school class of 2017. Applying for FAFSA as soon as possible after the 1st of October may mean that you do not miss out on available aid.

Remember you need to apply for Federal Student Aid every year, so not reapplying may mean you miss out on vital aid and you may have to take on more debt or loans at higher interest rates. In its report on student aid, the College Board notes that private loans do not carry the same repayment protections as federal loans, so it’s important that you do not miss out.

3. Not looking at alternative ways to fund college

A big mistake many students make is not applying for scholarships and grants beyond well-known programs and university offerings. Look for essay competitions and smaller scholarship programs that may not offer the big bucks. Remember that even $500 earned through such schemes means that’s $500 less than you may have to repay (with interest!) in the long run.

Applying for the Federal Work-Study program may allow you to earn money by working part-time while you study.

4. Confusing fixed and variable interest rates and repayment timescales

The Department of Education stresses the importance of knowing when you have to make your first payment. Check with your loan service provider to know when your first payment might be due.

Just when you think you have the total cost of your loan down, a variable interest rate can introduce a new monthly repayment rate. Variable interest-rate loans tend to shift continuously with an index such as the federal funds rate, prime rate or LIBOR rate. Fixed rates, by contrast, are typically locked in when you sign the loan agreement. Most private loans and some federal loans have variable rates. If you have variable-rate loans, you may choose to consolidate them at a fixed interest rate when rates are low. Remember it is up to you to keep in touch with your loan service provider to stay up-to-date on your payment schedule and repayment options so that you do not default.

5. Assuming you’ll graduate on time

Failing to graduate on time can increase your expected debt burden. The College Board reports that the cost to earn a degree increases with the time taken to complete it. Avoid surprises by planning your courses and determining how many transfer credits you’re eligible for at each school. College guidance counselors can help you understand what it will take to stay on track for an on-time graduation. Think about it, the faster you complete a degree, the faster you can reap the benefits of earning college-level wages.

Financial aid is a complicated array of payments, loan terms and agreements. Understanding how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together before you enroll can help prevent your finances from falling apart later.


  • Baum, Sandy, Jennifer Ma, Matea Pender, and CJ Libassi, Trends in Student Aid 2019, New York: College Board, 2019, https://research.collegeboard.org/pdf/trends-student-aid-2019-full-report.pdf
  • Decoding the Cost of College, The Case for Transparent Financial Aid Award Letters, New America and uAspire, 2018, https://www.uaspire.org/BlankSite/media/uaspire/Decoding-the-Cost-of-College.pdf
  • FAFSA®: Apply for Aid, Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa, accessed November 2019
  • Federal Student Loans: Repaying Your Loans, Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/repaying-your-loans.pdf, accessed November 2019
  • How Students missed Out on $2.3 Billion in Free College Aid, Nerd Wallet, 2017, https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/loans/student-loans/missed-free-financial-aid/
  • Ma, Jennifer, Sandy Baum, Matea Pender, and CJ Libassi, Trends in College Pricing 2019, New York: College Board, 2019m https://research.collegeboard.org/pdf/trends-college-pricing-2019-full-report.pdf
  • New Report Finds Student Debt Burden Has ‘Disastrous Domino Effect’ On Millions of Americans, Forbes, 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/dianahembree/2018/11/01/new-report-finds-student-debt-burden-has-disastrous-domino-effect-on-millions-of-americans/#4f61be5112d1
  • Quarterly Report On Household Debt And Credit 2019: Q2, Federal Reserve Bank Of New York Research And Statistics Group, August 2019, https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/interactives/householdcredit/data/pdf/hhdc_2019q2.pdf
  • Three Quarters of Student Borrowers Say Obtaining a Student Loan Was Easy, PR Newswire, 2019, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/three-quarters-of-student-borrowers-say-obtaining-a-student-loan-was-easy-300837869/

9 Emerging Careers Changing the World

If you’re seeking a stimulating and long-lasting career, look no further than the latest social and technological trends for a little inspiration. In just the past decade (or in some cases, less), major innovations have taken place in various fields from computers to medicine, all of which have forged an exciting landscape for emerging careers to take hold. Creative types might gravitate to the developing fields of 3D printing or social media, while tech-minded dreamers may lean toward groundbreaking developments in artificial intelligence or genetic engineering. Whatever your interest, this list of new, rapidly developing careers — and the majors to get you there — can help you identify a brand new career path that can take you into the future.

1. 3D Printing

3D printing

Since 3D printing technology has emerged, its wide and varied use has grown rapidly across the fields of biomedical science, computer science, manufacturing and just about any other industry that can benefit from faster, more efficient and cheaper production of its goods. From airplane parts and cars to artificial organs and prosthetics, 3D printing (or, more broadly, “additive manufacturing”) is an exciting field with seemingly endless applications and opportunities. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2018, nearly 41 percent of organizations are now on the hunt for workers who understand how this emerging technology works and, more importantly, how it can give their business a competitive advantage.

Where to find this degree program: Online degrees in the 3D Printing field include the master of engineering in additive manufacturing and design at Penn State World Campus, and the online additive manufacturing certifications at both MIT and Purdue University.

Related degree programs include engineering for those interested in the manufacturing industry, animation and design for those with a creative eye, and biomedical technology for those who seek to revolutionize the medical field.

2. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

artificial intelligence

The technology of “the future” is already here and shaping the way we live our day-to-day lives, but it’s becoming more apparent to all levels of society. Many companies are harnessing the analytical powers of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and deep learning to increase efficiency and cut their business costs. These innovative technologies have been developed to think, learn and even make predictions about certain data in a way that is similar to how the human brain works. Though this may take away certain jobs, it is expected that far more will be created in the long run, particularly for data scientists, machine learning engineers and business intelligence developers. More than two million jobs in the AI sector alone are expected to be generated within the next few years.

Where to find this degree program: Stanford University offers an online course in machine learning, though the AI track of its bachelor in computer science degree is not offered completely online. Harvard University offers an online machine learning course as well. On the other hand, graduate programs appear to be more prevalent, such as Georgia Tech’s online Master of Science in Computer Science with a specialization in machine learning.

Because online bachelor’s degree programs in this field are relatively rare at this time, it may be best to first pursue an undergraduate degree in a related field, such as information technology, computer science or mathematics.

3. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (the IoT)

virtual reality

The technology behind virtual and augmented reality makes video games and other digital entertainment exponentially more fun and unlike what we’ve seen before in the gaming and design world. However, this innovative technology can also lend itself to practical uses in the real world. It’s being used for safe, on-the-job training in fields like air and sea navigation, medicine and the military, and it’s helping coworkers facilitate collaborative projects despite living on opposite ends of the globe. Statista.com predicted that there were 170 million virtual reality users worldwide in 2018 alone, so this is a job market that is expected to provide massive opportunity now and in the future.

Where to find this degree program: Both the University of London and the University of Advancing Technology offer an online virtual reality degree. Drexel University offers a Virtual Reality & Immersive Media Program as well, and though it is not offered online, it does provide an in-depth exploration of theories, techniques and skills necessary to produce captivating virtual content.

Students may also choose to pursue a degree in new media, computer science or art and design – three aspects that go hand-in-hand to develop virtual and augmented reality that looks great and functions even better.

4. Blockchain


One of the most in-demand skills of the moment, blockchain engineering is actually a set of technologies including distributed computing and cryptography. It’s the technology that serves as the foundation of bitcoin cryptocurrency, a revolutionary form of currency that is certainly driving the demand for developers even higher. However, blockchain can also be applied in a wide variety of other realms from healthcare and digital identity to advertising and data storage. It’s no wonder, then, that the demand for well-versed developers has increased more than 500 percent in recent years according to a report by Hired.com.

Where to find this degree program: Elite schools like Princeton and MIT offer online courses in blockchain technologies, but do not have degree programs in the field at this time. The University of Nicosia, on the other hand, offers an online master’s in digital currency, claiming to be the world’s first graduate degree in blockchain.

Related degree programs include computer science, distributed computing and cryptography.

5. Cannabis


The legalization of cannabis in many areas of the United States has opened up a plethora of job opportunities in cultivation, extraction, dispensary management and even cannabis law. Increased accessibility to the plant offers more and more patients an alternative to pharmaceutical medicine, and recreational users may be finding it more socially acceptable to utilize the plant’s psychoactive effects as a means to handle stress and other emotions, among other uses. As the government continues to approve legislation allowing the medicinal or recreational use of the plant, the demand for jobs in this sector are expected to grow — literally and figuratively. In fact, the cannabis industry added nearly 65,000 jobs in 2018, which is an increase of 44 percent, according to industry experts Leafly and Whitney Economics.

Where to find this degree program: Northern Michigan University offers a degree program in medicinal plant chemistry that covers all aspects of the industry from growth to distribution, though it is currently only available on campus. Specialized schools like Cannabis Training University and Oaksterdam University, for example, offer online horticulture courses in addition to full on-campus degree programs that focus specifically on the cannabis industry.

For students interested in different aspects of the cannabis industry, related degree programs that tend to be more easily accessible online include chemistry, botany and healthcare.

6. Genetic Engineering


The first thing that comes to mind when many people think of gene editing is the controversial topics of “designer babies” and rogue human experimentation. However, the groundbreaking medical technology is more often and increasingly used for other medical purposes. For example, it can be used to detect and prevent diseases before they can affect one’s quality of life, and it can help to grow new organs for life-saving transplants. Thanks to the increasing possibilities to apply biotechnology to medical equipment and devices, job opportunities for biomedical engineers have been on the rise in the past few years and are expected to continue to grow as much as 7% into the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Where to find this degree program: The Stanford School of Medicine offers an online course in genetic engineering and biotechnology, while the University of Maryland University College offers a fully online biotechnology bachelor’s degree. For those seeking higher degrees, the University of Southern California offers a master of science in biomedical engineering completely online.

Common online degrees and concentrations related to genetic engineering include biology, human genetics and viral diseases.

7. Robotics


When we think of robots, we often conjure images of a futuristic society, but the truth is that robots are already all around us and already impacting the ways we do business. Most industrial equipment incorporates robotics technology, as does the emerging market for autonomous vehicles and all of the various uses for artificial intelligence. With the increased need for advanced robots to take over dangerous (or sometimes just boring) tasks, the need for robotics engineers is expected to grow as well. According to BIS Research, the “cobot” market (or collaborative robots that work alongside humans) is expected to grow to approximately $2 billion in the next few years.

Where to find this degree program: Southern New Hampshire University offers an online BS in information technologies with a concentration in robotics and artificial intelligence, while the University of Advancing Technology offers an online bachelor’s degree in robotics and embedded systems. For those seeking an advanced degree, an MS in robotics engineering is available online through Worcester Polytechnic University.

Degree programs related to robotics include mechanical engineering and computing and programming.

8. Social Media

social media

Social media usage is ubiquitous in today’s society. Not only do we use it to keep up with friends and family, but these platforms are becoming an essential component in business strategies spanning nearly every industry. Social media has shaken up the way that we communicate and the way we receive information about the world around us. That’s why it is more important than ever for businesses to have an online presence for promotional and brand-building purposes. Due to its popularity, you may face competition in this field, though its universal appeal is likely to always be in demand.

Where to find this degree program: Southern New Hampshire University offers an online BS in social media marketing, Johnson & Wales University Online offers a BS in digital marketing & social media, and Strayer University has an online bachelor of science in business administration: social media marketing. At the graduate level, Quinnipiac University offers an online MS in interactive media and communications, while Loyola University Maryland has their own online master’s in emerging media.

Social Media degree programs are relatively easy to find these days, but similar programs of interest include marketing, public relations and journalism.

9. Renewable Energy

renewable energy

With continued scientific research into the threat of global warming, renewable energy sources — including solar energy and wind energy — are quickly gaining worldwide interest. Their once high costs are now rapidly declining, allowing these alternative power sources to become more accessible to the public. Wind turbine technicians and solar photovoltaic (PV) installers are two of the fastest-growing “green” jobs on the market today, and there’s no sign that these eco-conscious alternatives will be slowing down. In fact, according to the 2019 Clean Jobs America analysis, the amount of clean energy jobs increased in every state in 2018 and they now significantly outnumber fossil fuel jobs.

Where to find this degree program: Penn State World Campus offers an online bachelor’s degree in energy and sustainability policy, an online master’s degree in renewable energy and sustainability systems and graduate certificates in solar energy and sustainability management and policy. DeVry University also offers an online bachelor’s degree specialization in renewable energy, while Everglades University’s online bachelor of science degree features a major in alternative and renewable energy management.

More easily accessible degree programs related to renewable energy include environmental science and engineering.


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15 Best Big Cities For New Grads


Graduating from college and preparing to make your mark on the world is one big feat. There are so many questions that pop up at this time of life, including where to live, how to land your dream job and what to do with your spare time.

It may be that big city life is for you. You may be the type of person who likes urban commutes, museums, the arts, the theater, ball games and more. If you are still deciding what place might be best, OnlineDegrees.com has made a list of the best big cities for college graduates in the U.S. Average median rent, the number of arts and entertainment centers and median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders were just some of the factors used to compile this list. This year, two new metrics were used to provide more perspective, including commute time to work and the crime rate per 100,000.

List of 15 Best Big Cities for New Grads

For this particular list we examined cities that had a population of more than 750,000 and used a nine-factor 10-point scale to rank the top 15 locations. Some of these cities, like Austin, Texas and Columbus, Ohio return to our list for another year, but others — like New York City — are new. Keep on reading to find out which big city might be right for a new college graduate just like you.

1. Austin, Texas


Austin returns to our list of one of the top big cities for new graduates, moving up to the #1 spot from #2 last year. Several factors pushed it up to the top of the list, including low unemployment, an average commute time of less than 25 minutes and average median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders that are close to $60,000.

New college grads may be drawn by some of the city’s major employers, which include Apple, Inc., Cirrus Logic, Cisco Systems, Dell, Inc., Intel, 3M and Texas State University. Entertainment is an attraction, too, and includes the city’s Sixth Street, which is home to a hip music scene along with restaurants, shops and bars, including a dueling piano bar. Graduates with a bend toward history may enjoy visiting the state capitol, which opened in 1888 and offers free 30-minute tours. Young adults who want to settle close to this city of 950,000, can find lovely suburban communities in Rollingwood, Shady Hollow and West Lake Hills.

Featured data points:

  • Percent of population between 20 and 34, 2017: 30.1%
  • Median rent, 2017: $1,217.64
  • Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, 2017: $59,301.93
  • Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above, 2016-26: 16.6%
  • Art and entertainment centers: 304
  • Average commute time to work: 24.9 minutes
  • Crime rate per 100K people: 8,296

2. San Francisco, California


New to our list this year of best big cities for new grads, San Francisco scored a spot for being #1 of all the cities on our list for entertainment. This may come as no surprise, as entertainment in San Francisco includes diverse options like the theater, Giants baseball, the ballet, opera, 49ers football and countless activities that range from biking tours of the Golden Gate Bridge to food tours in the Chinatown district.

There are economic factors making this city of 884,000-plus attractive, too. For example, San Francisco ranks second on our list for a low unemployment rate of 3.8% and a high state projected employment. New grads might look for employment with some of the city’s largest employers, which include Wells Fargo, Kaiser Permanante, Uber and Salesforce. Of course, there are plenty of start-ups in this innovative city, too, including HotelTonight, reinventing hotel booking, and Cloud Passage, a cloud-based security company.

Featured data points:

  • Percent of population between 20 and 34, 2017: 29%
  • Median rent, 2017: $1,252.35
  • Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, 2017: $57,437.29
  • Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above, 2016-26: 10.7%
  • Art and entertainment centers: 516
  • Average commute time to work: 33.8 minutes
  • Crime rate per 100K people: 13,861

3. Houston, Texas


Home to the largest medical center in the world, Houston, Texas could be a great city for new grads looking for fast-growing jobs. The Texas Medical Center contains more than 50 different medicine-related institutions, but that’s not the reason this city of 2.3 million (yes, 2.3 million!) returns to our list of best big cities for new grads for another year. Houston ranked second of all cities overall for median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders (above $61,000) and sixth for the number of entertainment venues.

New residents may want to start their entertainment explorations in Houston’s downtown tunnels, a network of air-conditioned walkways that provide a way for downtown workers to quickly get about. Restaurants like Cafe Basil, Fuddruckers and Salata can be found there. Entertainment in Houston stretches far beyond what’s underground to include kite festivals, children’s festivals (if you already have kids!), music, magic, state fairs and more.

Featured data points:

  • Percent of population between 20 and 34, 2017: 25.7%
  • Median rent, 2017: $943.53
  • Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, 2017: $61,806.02
  • Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above, 2016-26: 16.6%
  • Art and entertainment centers: 269
  • Average commute time to work: 27.8 minutes
  • Crime rate per 100K people: 10,757

4. San Antonio, Texas


The San Antonio River Walkway may be one reason that new grads want to make this city of 1.5 million people their home. However, this city returns to our list of best big cities for new grads for a plethora of other reasons. San Antonio ranks third on our list for average lowest commute time (Interstates like 10, 35, 37 and 410 may help!) and also took the 5th spot for lowest median rent.

Compare this rent to other large cities on this list (like San Francisco and Austin, Texas) and it’s easy to see the potential savings that could go into your pocket. Additionally, the percent of renters in this city also is among the lowest on our list, at 45.2 percent, suggesting that people may like to lay down roots here. Why not, when the cost of a median home is lower than other large cities and the attractions are endless and include the likes of the Alamo, Natural Bridge caverns, golfing caving, and, of course, that beautiful river walk?

Featured data points:

  • Percent of population between 20 and 34, 2017: 24%
  • Median rent, 2017: $860.54
  • Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, 2017: $56,100.02
  • Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above, 2016-26: 16.6%
  • Art and entertainment centers: 234
  • Average commute time to work: 24.6 minutes
  • Crime rate per 100K people: 11,251

5. Columbus, Ohio


The capital city of Ohio boasts a number of highlights that help it again return to our list of the best big cities for new grads. With a population of more than 880,000 and the lowest commute time of all cities on this list (21.6 minutes!), it has major employers that include JPMorgan Chase & Co (employing more than 20,000 people), Nationwide, Honda of America Manufacturing and Amazon.

Columbus also has a low median rent, the third lowest of cities on this list, and ranks fairly low among cities on this list for unemployment rate, too. Of course, Columbus has plenty of other interests to pull in new grads, too, whether that’s the Ohio Girls Roller Derby Team (which ranks among the top 10 in the nation), the large horse show hosted there every October or the opportunity to enjoy a craft brew at one of its many distilleries.

Featured data points:

  • Percent of population between 20 and 34, 2017: 29%
  • Median rent, 2017: $812.93
  • Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, 2017: $53,970.89
  • Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above, 2016-26: 4.4%
  • Art and entertainment centers: 244
  • Average commute time to work: 21.6 minutes
  • Crime rate per 100K people: 9,008

6. Dallas, Texas

Dallas texas

New to our list of best big cities for new grads, Dallas has a population of more than 1.34 million and the highest ranking for median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders. This modern city in northern Texas is home not just to the Dallas Arts District, which features nearly 20 blocks of galleries, museums and venues, but also to the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars.

Dallas, which ranked eighth on our list of best cities for new grads for lowest crime rate, is home to two airports and an Amtrak station. New grads looking for jobs might investigate Fortune 500 companies in the greater Dallas area that include AT&T, Exxon Mobile, JC Penney and Texas Instruments. While there are more than 200 golf courses in the area, Dallas also can get snow: a whopping average of 1.3 snow days a year.

Featured data points:

  • Percent of population between 20 and 34, 2017: 27%
  • Median rent, 2017: $944.62
  • Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, 2017: $62,125.99
  • Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above, 2016-26: 16.6%
  • Art and entertainment centers: 227
  • Average commute time to work: 27.9 minutes
  • Crime rate per 100K people: 8,295

7. Charlotte, North Carolina


Charlotte joins this year’s list of best big cities for new college graduates for numerous reasons, not just for its historical charm, its large banking center or the fact that it just celebrated its 250th anniversary. Charlotte has impressive rankings on several key points, including median earnings above the national average for bachelor’s degree holders, an average commute time of less than half-an-hour and a 10th place ranking for overall number of entertainment venues.

The city was named after King George III’s wife, Queen Charlotte, and the city’s center still reflects a grid of square blocks highlighting its colonial heritage. At the same time, it features modern day entertainment venues as diverse as Bojangles Coliseum, Spectrum Center and the Belk Theater. College grads also might enjoy the city’s 30 miles of greenways or Jetton Park, a 105-acre waterfront park to the north.

Featured data points:

  • Percent of population between 20 and 34, 2017: 25.3%
  • Median rent, 2017: $1,001.29
  • Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, 2017: $60,288.11
  • Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above, 2016-26: 10.1%
  • Art and entertainment centers: 255
  • Average commute time to work: 25.4 minutes
  • Crime rate per 100K people: 8,915

8. San Diego, California


Averaging close to 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, San Diego is the second largest city in California and the eighth largest in the United States. Seventy miles of beach line are accessible to its residents, but so are more than 90 golf courses and 6,000-plus places to eat. Balboa Park is just one well-known enticement, boasting art galleries, 15 museums, gardens and the city’s San Diego Zoo.

This city of 1.3 million returns to our list of best large cities for college graduates for several factors, including a low crime rate (#3 overall on our list), strong projected state employment, more than 280 entertainment venues and an average commute time of less than 25 minutes. While the median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders is low compared to other cities on this list, there are plenty of companies with strong growth, including Arctic Zero, Innovative Commercial Environments and Zeeto, all included on the Inc. 5000 list.

Featured data points:

  • Percent of population between 20 and 34, 2017: 28.2%
  • Median rent, 2017: $1,092.73
  • Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, 2017: $40,397.29
  • Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above, 2016-26: 10.7%
  • Art and entertainment centers: 284
  • Average commute time to work: 24.7 minutes
  • Crime rate per 100K people: 4,973

9. Indianapolis, Indiana


Returning to our list of best big cities for new grads, Indianapolis, known as “Indy,” rose from a #14 ranking on last year’s list to #9 this year. Factors contributing to its upward move include a low average commute time (second lowest overall on our list!), the percent of the population between ages 20 to 34 and a low median monthly rent rate. In fact, Indianapolis has the lowest median monthly rent, at $778.69, of all 15 cities on this list.

At the same time, the city’s median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders reaches above $50,000, beating out the city of San Diego, which also has higher median rent. Money saved in this capital city can mean more discretionary income for enjoying the surroundings, which include the Lucas Oil Stadium, the Indiana Convention Center, 250 acres of green space at White River State Park and the Theater District.

Featured data points:

  • Percent of population between 20 and 34, 2017: 24.2%
  • Median rent, 2017: $778.69
  • Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, 2017: $51,735
  • Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above, 2016-26: 7.6%
  • Art and entertainment centers: 264
  • Average commute time to work: 23.4 minutes
  • Crime rate per 100K people: 12,157

10. Fort Worth, Texas


New to our list of best big cities for new grads, Fort Worth, Texas — nicknamed “Cowtown” — offers upscale shopping, cowboy cuisine, NASCAR racing and a multitude of primary entertainment districts — eight, in total. The city of 876,000-plus ranked #10 on our list of best big cities for new grads for its impressive median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, strong state employment and a low crime rate.

With an average commute time of 27 minutes, new employees in the city can easily make it from their place of business to any cultural spot or place of interest. Entertainment options include the zoo, botanical gardens and even the Stockyards District, which features historical landmarks, night clubs, unique shops and restaurants — and yes, even rodeo shows. To help pay for some of these diversions, new grads wanting to settle in Fort Worth might look for jobs in aerospace, education, healthcare and government, with AMR/American Airlines and Lockheed Martin being two of the area’s largest employers.

Featured data points:

  • Percent of population between 20 and 34, 2017: 23.9%
  • Median rent, 2017: $928.24
  • Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, 2017: $61,405.23
  • Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above, 2016-26: 16.6%
  • Art and entertainment centers: 167
  • Average commute time to work: 27 minutes
  • Crime rate per 100K people: 8,239

11. Los Angeles, California


A city of 3.9 million, Los Angeles joins our list of best big cities for new grads this year. Compelling as it is for its entertainment industry — and the Hollywood stars that might be spotted there — Los Angeles has much to offer new graduates in terms of arts and entertainment centers, percentage of young adults living there and low median rent. In fact, compared to other large California cities on our list, Los Angeles may be the most attractive in terms of rental affordability.

While most people know Los Angeles for its famous Hollywood sign and Walk of Fame stars, the employment opportunities in this southern city stretch far beyond arts and entertainment. Leisure and hospitality is a key industry in the city, but there are other industries well entrenched there. Nearly 200,000 people work in aerospace or technology and about 700,000 are employed in biomedical or health services in the greater L.A. area.

Featured data points:

  • Percent of population between 20 and 34, 2017: 25.4%
  • Median rent, 2017: $894.43
  • Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, 2017: $36,491.87
  • Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above, 2016-26: 10.7%
  • Art and entertainment centers: 396
  • Average commute time to work: 31.8 minutes
  • Crime rate per 100K people: 6,017

12. New York City, New York


It may be hard to imagine the Big Apple making this list, but this city of 8.6 million (Wow!) attracts all types of people. New grads settling here may be drawn by the city’s large number of arts and entertainment venues, the percentage of young adults who call the Big Apple their home or the relatively low crime rate compared to other large cities on this list.

Of course, New York City’s entertainment opportunities are endless, but include everything from Radio City Music Hall to Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center. The city’s well-known Central Park features yoga classes, walking tours and bike rentals, as well as a landscape of green. Enjoy restaurants and cafes in the city’s Financial District — home to Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, Statue of Liberty and financial deals. New grads landing here may want to turn to major employers like JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup, Inc., Pfizer, Inc., and PricewaterhouseCoopers to look for stellar job opportunities.

Featured data points:

  • Percent of population between 20 and 34, 2017: 24.7%
  • Median rent, 2017: $932.01
  • Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, 2017: $44,760.45
  • Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above, 2016-26: 12%
  • Art and entertainment centers: 315
  • Average commute time to work: 41.8 minutes
  • Crime rate per 100K people: 4,208

13. Phoenix, Arizona


The largest city in Arizona, Phoenix offers light-rail service, ride-hailing services and bike-sharing programs, all of which provide various transportation options in this city of 1.62 million. New grads settling in Phoenix can take the light rail to the Central Avenue district to get a drink or a bite to eat right after work, stopping in at places such as Bitter & Twisted, Durant’s or Southern Rail.

A median rent of $866 makes this city affordable for grads obtaining their first job or looking to start off in a new place. The average pay for bachelor’s degree holders in this sunny city is well above $50,000, meaning the young adults could find a rent payment easily manageable. Of course, anyone living in this city — which averages 299 days of sun a year — might enjoy catching a Phoenix Suns or Arizona Cardinals game in their free time or after work.

Featured data points:

  • Percent of population between 20 and 34, 2017: 22.9%
  • Median rent, 2017: $866.22
  • Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, 2017: $52,488.01
  • Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above, 2016-26: 18.6%
  • Art and entertainment centers: 175
  • Average commute time to work: 26.3 minutes
  • Crime rate per 100K people: 4,208

14. San Jose, California


Returning to our list of best big cities for new college grads for a consecutive year, San Jose is a tech area located in Silicon Valley. Rent may be on the higher end, but the major employers in this city of 1.03 million people include Adobe Inc., Maxim Integrated Products, Inc., and Prime Materials.

This state scored points to make this list for its overall low unemployment rate — compared to other large cities — and strong state projected employment. The third largest city in California, the city was once the first capital of California. It also has an airport, a relatively low crime rate and prohibits the use of plastic bags by retailers. Additionally, pet lovers may want to be aware: there also is a pet quota of five licensed animals total.

Featured data points:

  • Percent of population between 20 and 34, 2017: 22.7%
  • Median rent, 2017: $1,402.83
  • Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, 2017: $54,169.64
  • Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above, 2016-26: 10.7%
  • Art and entertainment centers: 203
  • Average commute time to work: 31.3 minutes
  • Crime rate per 100K people: 5,522

15. Chicago, Illinois


Some theories that exist about this windy city suggest that Chicago got its name more from the politicians full of hot air there than the number of actual windy days. Whatever the reason, new college graduates may find this big city a good choice for its high median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, the large number of art and entertainment centers and an affordable average rent at less than $1,000.

Believe it or not, the first Ferris wheel made its debut in Chicago in 1893, but that is hardly the most interesting thing to entice young adults there. Attractions in this city of 2.7 million include an 18.5-mile lakefront path, more than 5,000 restaurants, over 50 museums, 200-plus music venues and 8,100 acres of green space. Of course, anyone who loves pizza knows that the Chicago deep dish pizza is something to write home about.

Featured data points:

  • Percent of population between 20 and 34, 2017: 27.6%
  • Median rent, 2017: $972.33
  • Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, 2017: $59,230.37
  • Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above, 2016-26: 5.8%
  • Art and entertainment centers: 255
  • Average commute time to work: 34.9 minutes
  • Crime rate per 100K people: 7,719

For this analysis, we ranked 17 U.S. cities that had a city population of 750,000 or more according to 2017 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Each city was ranked on a 10 point scale, using the following seven data points and the weights specified.

  1. Median monthly rent adjusted to the Cost of Living Index, American Community Survey, 2017
  2. Percent of housing units that are occupied by renters rather than owners, American Community Survey, 2017
  3. Percent of the population between the ages of 20 and 34, American Community Survey, 2017
  4. Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders adjusted to the Cost of Living Index, American Community Survey, 2017
  5. Arts & Entertainment: The number of performing arts, spectator sports and related industries; museums and historical sites; restaurants; and bars per 100,000 residents in each metro area, U.S. Census Population Estimates, 2012; County Business Patterns, 2012
  6. State job growth projections: The average projected growth rate and the projected number of new jobs per 100 people in each metro area, 2016-26, Projections Central, 2016
  7. Unemployment rate, American Community Survey, 2017
  8. Average Commute time, American Community Survey, 2017
  9. Crime rate per 100,000 people, Uniform Crime Reporting, 2015

Methodology Sources:

  • American Community Survey, 2017, U.S. Census Bureau, https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/
  • 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2016-26 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, http://www.projectionscentral.com
  • Uniform Crime Reporting, 2015, Federal Bureau of Investigation, https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015


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Methodologies and Sources