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Online Degrees Are Hot

The internet has changed the way we do business, manage money and is becoming an increasingly popular and valid avenue to higher education. In recognition of this medium as a source for revenue, colleges and universities are constantly adding innovative ways to increase their student population by offering online degrees.
The trend is in response to growing consumer demand. College students are no longer kids just out of high school. More and more people are returning to finish their degrees after absences for career, kids or even in retirement. This part of the population is often better funded than their teenage counterparts and this explains the desire of higher institutions to service their needs.
Online degrees are more convenient for people who are in the middle of a career. They eliminate commuting hours and allow students to tackle coursework on their own schedule. Often, classes meet once per week online and school is open 24/7. This means that school work can be accomplished after board meetings or when the kids are sleeping, theoretically speaking of course.
It is not necessarily easier to finish a degree online. Courses can be intense and the work loads can be hefty, partly driven by the need to validate this fairly new learning path. However, the convenience factor is a huge draw for online degree seekers.
The multitude of options is ever-increasing. Schools across the spectrum are offering opportunities for online learning, from community colleges to the top Ivy League institutions.
In the Northeast alone, online degree seekers can choose from schools like Tunxis Community Technical College in Farmington, CT, top tiered University of Connecticut in Storrs, University of New Hampshire, Columbia University in New York City, Boston University and Harvard.
And the list is growing. Recently Princeton, Stanford and Yale started searching for innovative ways to jump on the online degree bandwagon, following suit with national top seeds like Tulane University in New Orleans and University of California at Davis.
Programs vary from school to school but some offer students the opportunity to complete degrees fully online. Boston University is one, through the Boston University Online Undergraduate Degree Completion Program (UDCP). This program is specifically geared to students who have prior college credits and are looking for a way to finish their degree.
At Harvard University, online or distance education courses can be used to fulfill requirements for degree and certificate programs. The school’s Master of Liberal Arts in Information Technology can be completed almost entirely online. Two certificate programs, the Certificate in Environmental Management and the Certificate in Applied Sciences may be completed entirely online.
Online certificate programs are also gaining momentum and becoming recognized as a valuable credential by employers. The range of programs is diverse and varies from arts to technology to environment. The Division of Corporate, Continuing and Distance Education at University of Massachusetts Boston offers noncredit, undergraduate and graduate courses online as well as a diverse offering of certificate programs.
UMASS Boston offers both undergraduate and graduate certificates online. The online graduate certificates available include Teaching of Spanish, Forensic Services, Instructional Technology Design and Applied Behavioral Analysis. Undergraduate certificates include Community Media and Technology and Geographic Information Technologies.
At UMASS, and other schools, a bachelor’s degree is required to be admitted to a graduate certificate or degree program. However, any person with a high school diploma or equivalent may register for online classes and begin pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree online.
Certificate programs are a great online resource that can help boost your credentials and career by certifying you as a specialist in your chosen field. Some coursework can be applied towards undergraduate requirements helping online students reach a milestone while completing a full degree.
Online courses are ideal for working professionals, military personnel, stay – at – home parents, and people with disabilities. Typical on-line students are working adults balancing career and family and looking for career enhancement. They are usually mature, independent, self-motivated individuals with strong time management skills. They value the convenience of online learning as well as the high level of learning standards associated with online degrees today.
A large benefit of pursuing an online degree is the opportunity to interact with students from all over the world. Residency is irrelevant and often classes draw students from countries around the globe. This is a valuable resource as the business world continually expands across borders.
Even those who have no college credits can use the internet to pursue their dream of higher education. In fact, many schools offering online degrees accept life learning credits as well as credits earned through the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP).
CLEP is an internationally recognized testing standard that evaluates students and offers either general or subject specific exams that can count toward college credit. The average cost of a CLEP exam is $60 and can replace up to 6 credits. The organization’s website lists exam centers, subjects and colleges that accept CLEP credits. It’s important to check with the schools you intend to attend as policies for CLEP acceptance vary, but the testing program can help fast-track a college degree.
For instance, Boston University accepts 64 CLEP subject specific credits. This is equal to the prerequisites required to enter the school’s Online Undergraduate Degree Completion Program (UDCP). This adds up both in tuition costs and time, significantly reducing both. A student could potentially finish half of an undergraduate degree through CLEP testing and then complete the online degree program. The result is a bachelor’s from a top university without ever setting foot in a classroom.
Online degrees aren’t for everyone. Many students still seek the camaraderie and interaction of face-to-face learning environments. However, for mature working individuals with an eye on results, online degrees are an excellent way to get the credentials they need.

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