Have you been working at the same job for a while and feel like it’s time to enhance your knowledge with continuing higher education? Do you want to branch out into the upper echelons of your field? Are you looking to take the next step on your educational journey? If so, then it’s time to consider getting a master’s degree. But you’re busy with work, family, and everything else. Who has the time to get another degree right now?
With a master’s degree program from an online college, getting your degree won’t be a problem. There are, however, quite a few schools from which to choose. So how do you know which one is right for you? We’ve put together a brief guide on how to select an online school when you’ve decided it’s time to pursue a master’s degree online. Read on.
Find Out How the Program Works
Online classes in school programs typically feature video content, webinars, video interactions, and work you must complete on your own. Most schools utilize a Learning Management System (LMS) to access everything.
Students are expected to spend a certain number of hours each week on coursework and there may be quite a few online discussions, depending on the class. Online courses are often self-paced and flexible, giving you the ability to learn and complete assignments on your own time. There are still deadlines, however, that need to be met and exams that require proctoring. Some schools have proctoring software students can use to take exams remotely while others might have a designated local area to take the test.
Understand the Technical Requirements
Technology is the basis for attending an online school. Students need to be able to interact with their professors, administration, and fellow students through some means of electronic communication.
Basic computer skills, knowing how to use email and a web browser, as well as an internet connection are essential. Webcams and a good headset/microphone set up can be beneficial as well. Every school will have different technical requirements for their courses, and may use webinars, zoom, video, or Blackboard to teach courses. Having a decent laptop or desktop computer is an absolute must and many schools require Microsoft Office for handing in assignments. Make sure you have a program that allows
Research Online Schools
Now we come to the most important part of the journey: researching potential online colleges. While conducting a search for an online college, it’s crucial to understand what types of degrees they offer and where they may provide specialization or emphasis programs in certain fields. Another important thing to look for is what student support programs they offer at the school. These include access to a virtual library/bookstore, conflict resolution services, financial aid, and advising solutions. Finally, find out if they offer quality online masters degree programs relevant to your interests and career.
Look for an Accredited School
Next, you need to ensure the school is accredited. Higher education needs to be a source of excellent quality. Accreditation is one of the most important distinctions a school can have because it means the school meets high quality educational standards. Think of it as a “quality control seal” for the University. An accredited school is not a “diploma mill” and can provide comparable education to that of a traditional commerce. Schools also have to be accredited by one of the federally recognized accreditation institutions overseen by the Department of Education in order for their status to be legitimate.
Sufficient resources, expert faculty, adequate student services, a stocked/accessible library, and peer reviews are all metrics by which accreditation can be measured. Potential employers will most likely look for accreditation as they assess your candidacy for a particular job. Most colleges receive regional accreditation, but there are specialized and other types of accreditation as well. Ultimately, ensuring you attend an accredited online college is the best way to ensure you get the most benefit from your master’s level education.
Decide on a Major
Curriculum and knowing what you want to major in is perhaps the most crucial aspect of attending college online – especially when it comes to obtaining a masters degree. Once you’ve found a school you like, check the available degree programs and speak with faculty or advisors to get a good idea of what the curriculum and course load may entail. Some of the most likely fields offered at online colleges are:
- Business Administration
- Information Systems
- Criminal Justice
- Organizational Management
- Occupational health and safety
- Emergency health services
The curriculum and necessary coursework will officially vary depending on the degree and field, but going into things with knowledge and a plan will position you on the path to success as you pursue your master’s degree online.