With the number of colleges and schools offering online programs and distance learning programs, the options seem infinite and trying to do research on the best programs can be quite the task! Students often have questions about whether the programs are accredited, what it takes to be a successful online learning, what kinds of jobs are available for are available for students who graduate from online programs, and the degree programs that are most marketable.
One trend is for people who may have started their degree but did not complete their studies, online distance education seems to be the currently most flexible way to return to school to finish up their degree. The convenience is particularly important for people with fulltime jobs and/or families to take care of. Another trend is that many traditional (campus-based) colleges and universities are also offering online courses and full degree programs to cater to students who are unable to attend classes physically.
Online studies suggest that although the popularity and marketability of online programs does fluctuate with economic and social factors, some degree programs have remained at the top of the popularity list. These programs are: Medical billing and coding, medical transcription, nursing, business and MBA, psychology, education, criminal justice and information technology degrees.
More research and evidence also suggest that increasingly, more graduate students at both the masters and doctoral level are enrolling in online degree programs given their need for flexibility and continuity in their professional endeavors.
For business degrees, the masters and bachelors programs remain very popular. The Masters in Business Administration (MBA) for example has become a requirement for most mid-level managers. This means that more business professionals are seeking to get higher qualifications and are doing so through online programs. It also means that more graduate schools are offering online MBA programs. Concentrations such as accounting, project management, risk management, human resource management and finance are capturing the interests of the students.
In the health care profession, certain areas continue to grown yet there the number of trained professionals is still below the target. Nursing, medical billing, medical coding and medical transcription are just some of the niche areas in health care that continue to experience shortages. Forensic nursing, life care planning, and legal nurse consulting careers are examples of areas in nursing that continue to experience the highest interest. Much of this interest has been generated by technological advancement in health care and the retirement of the aging baby boomer population.
Another area that continues to have a need especially at the graduate level of study is teacher education. Special education, mathematics education, and science education for example fall under teacher education and do continue to experience a need for trained certified teachers. Other areas are educational administration, educational technology, and educational leadership.
In this information age we live in, technology continues to advance. Subsequently, degree programs in certain areas such as computer security, information technology, software engineering, and web development continue to serve this body of students who want to join various professions in this field. One advantage is that technology is being applied to all areas thus is not industry specific.
Criminal justice courses also remain at the top of the list of popular online degrees. Criminal justice degrees have remained marketable at all levels including associates, bachelor and masters levels. Graduates of these programs go on to pursue careers in law enforcement, corrections, and the legal profession in areas such as immigration and homeland security personnel.
Whichever areas of study you decide to pursue, there are several issues to consider. First, keep in mind that while some degrees may not be popular with students, some industries have a need and these professions also pay quite well. Second, be sure to research and determine that the college or university you decide to attend is fully accredited. Third, conduct prior research on financial costs and available scholarships. Also be sure to check the class scheduling to ensure that you graduate on time.