Six Degrees for People with Busy Schedules


These six online degree programs are built for busy adults.

By Amy Howell Hirt

Are you dreaming of earning a degree, but can't imagine how you'd make it to class between work and family commitments? Why not take class when it's convenient for you?

"Nowadays, it's totally possible to get an entire degree online, right from home," says Susan Kannel, the associate vice president of employer services for the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, a nonprofit organization that promotes individual educational and professional development.

In fact, adults with full-time employment make up the majority of undergraduates enrolled in distance education degree programs, in which education is delivered over the Internet, according to the U.S. Department of Education's "Learning at a Distance" study, released in October 2011.

Whether you're seeking a new career or want to expand your opportunities, these six online degree programs can make it easier for you to turn your spare time into study time.

Online Degree #1: Bachelor's in Health Care Administration

If the classes you need for a bachelor's in health care administration never seem to match up with your spare time, then it might be time to go back to school online.

Flexible support: Online programs provide the flexibility that working adults need to pursue a bachelor's in health care administration, whenever and wherever it's most convenient for them.

About the degree: In a bachelor's program for health services administration, students learn about overseeing a health care facility and the services it offers, according to the College Board, an educational organization that administers aptitude tests like the SAT. Courses cover a broad range of topics, such as health care law and policy, financial management and human resources, as well as medical subjects like epidemiology.

Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program Now.

Related career: "Prospective medical and health services managers have a bachelor's degree in health administration," according to the U.S. Department of Labor. These managers may oversee an entire health care facility or a specific unit or department within it, and could be responsible for maintaining the quality and efficiency of services.

Online Degree #2: Master's in Business Administration

If you are a working adult seeking a master's in business administration, but can't make it to class on a regular basis, an online program could bring the coursework to you.

Flexible support: Depending on the school, self-paced online programs could allow busy adults to move through the coursework at their own pace, with more flexibility to complete lessons, tests, or papers.

About the degree: A master's in business administration program could teach students how to apply theories to real-world problems and make important decisions in a business environment, according to the Princeton Review. The program might provide instruction on topics such as finance, management, organizational behavior, or economics.

Click to Find the Right MBA Program Now.

Related career: Earning a master's in business administration is one way you could prepare for a career as a human resources manager, which sometimes requires an MBA, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. While the duties vary by company and industry, general responsibilities include ensuring that staffing is in line with the organization's needs and goals, as well as coordinating with other executives in strategic planning for the organization.

Online Degree #3: Bachelor's in Education

Interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree in education, but don't have time for classes or homework until the weekend? An online program could fit nicely into your schedule.

Flexible support: "A lot of online professors understand working adults don't start homework until the weekend," so they put out new assignments on Thursdays, Kannel says. Of course, not every program will be this flexible, so effective time management is very important.

About the degree: Students in education programs could learn about teaching methods, the psychology and technology associated with teaching, and practical skills such as managing a classroom and creating lesson plans, according to the College Board. They also may take courses to specialize in an area, such as special education or math.

Click to Find the Right Education Program Now.

Related career: A degree in this field could offer great preparation for a career as a teacher. In fact, a bachelor's degree in elementary education is required to begin teaching as a kindergarten or elementary school teacher, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. It's also good to note that a state-issued certification or license is a must-have for public school teachers, while some states may also require teachers to major in a content area such as math or science.

Online Degree #4: Bachelor's in Communications

Do you often use your spare time to chat with friends, post to Facebook, or Skype family members? Perhaps you should use that time - and passion - to instead pursue a bachelor's degree in communications.

Flexible support: As you know all too well, the lines of communication are always open on the Internet, which means you can go to school when it's right for you.

About the degree: A business communications degree explores the dynamics and various methods of communication, with courses like argumentation and debate, media analysis and criticism, and public relations writing, according to the College Board.

Click to Find the Right Communications Program Now.

Related career: Public relations specialists handle the communications, and often promotions, for an organization. Interested? You would likely need a bachelor's degree to pursue this career, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which adds that communications is one of the specific areas of study employers prefer.

Online Degree #5: Bachelor's in Finance

If you're interested in a finance degree and find that time is your most precious commodity, pursuing this bachelor's degree online might be the winning equation.

Flexible support: Without having to commute or hunt for parking, you can put your limited time to good use with an online degree program.

About the degree: A finance degree covers the various skills and knowledge required to be a financial decision maker - from controlling costs and budgeting to making smart investments, according to the College Board.

Click to Find the Right Finance Program Now.

Related career: Ever think of pursuing a career as a financial analyst? Well, a bachelor's degree in finance or a related field is required for many financial analyst positions, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. As a financial analyst, you might assess the performance of stocks and other investments, as well as track policies and trends that may affect future earnings, the Department of Labor reports.

Online Degree #6: Bachelor's in Computer Science

Do you want to study computer science, despite having a hectic schedule that keeps you going well into the night? Good news: An online bachelor's degree program in computer science lets you attend classes at any hour of the day.

Flexible support: Thanks to shared servers and courses that may have worldwide attendance, online computer science students can log in around the clock to join discussions or ask questions of other students, Kannel says.

About the degree: A computer science degree could combine data-driven coursework like software engineering and data structures and algorithms, as well as discussions on the theory of formal languages and artificial intelligence, according to the College Board. Typical courses may include digital system design, mathematics for computer science, and computer system organization.

Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program Now.

Related careers: A bachelor's in computer science is one common degree for network and computer systems administrators, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. As an administrator, you would keep a business or organization's computer system running properly and efficiently, from maintaining networks and upgrades to fixing server problems.

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