Six Degrees Made for Adult Students
Earning one of these degrees could help you maximize your work experience - and take your career in a new direction.
Are you interested in going back to college, but wondering whether you might be "too experienced" to get much out of a degree program?
You're never too old to learn new tricks that might improve your employment potential, says Robert Wendt, a career counselor at California State University, Long Beach.
"Part of the education process is to teach critical thinking skills," says Wendt, when asked how adult learners can benefit from a degree program. "So, when problems are presented to you, you have to have the tools to think through and solve the problems."
So, if you're an experienced worker who is considering whether a college degree can be a good fit, check out six programs that are practically tailor-made for adult students.
Do you already have a college degree and years of work experience? Would you like to expand your horizons in the corporate world? Consider earning a master's degree in business administration (MBA).
Why? Because MBA programs are designed to help cultivate skills and build knowledge that you can use at the highest levels of the business world. In fact, some of the courses you might take in a business program include business ethics and law, marketing, and international management, reports the College Board, the organization that administers the SAT exam.
Why it Complements Adults with Experience: The College Board reports that some business schools prefer students who have full-time work experience, meaning adult learners with experience could have some advantage when considering MBA programs.
Wendt adds that an MBA program can help adult learners go after a specific career in business, even if it's in a different area of expertise they already have.
"An MBA may allow a person to redirect their career," Wendt says. So, if you have experience in marketing, you could go into information systems, Wendt adds as an example.
Potential Careers: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, financial analysts and management analysts are among career choices where an MBA might be required by some employers.
Are you an adult with experience in the health care field? Are you looking for an opportunity to move into a management position? You might want to think about earning a master's degree in health services administration to help push your career in the right direction.
According to the College Board, a health services administration program could help you "learn all aspects of overseeing health care facilities and the services they provide." To do this, you'll likely take courses in health care policy, health care law, and the economics of health care.
Why it Complements Adults with Experience: According to Wendt, there is a growing need for people with backgrounds in health care administration. This is in large part thanks to the complex nature of administering insurance claims, which often requires workers with higher levels of experience and education. Now isn't this great news for experienced adult students who have their sights on this degree?
If you're still not convinced, you might want to take this into consideration: "A master's degree in health care administration might demonstrate the growth companies are looking for," Wendt says. "People are finding employment at that level."
Potential Career: A master's in health services is one common educational route towards pursuing a career as a health care administrator, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. But if you are already in a different health care position, a master's in health services administration or a related field could be required to advance.
Have you long held an interest in discovering what makes people tick and act the way they do? Consider earning a bachelor's degree in psychology to help strengthen your career potential as an adult learner.
The College Board says a bachelor's degree in psychology could teach students about the ways humans and animals "act, feel, think, and learn." Among the courses typically taken in this program are social psychology, perception and sensation, and neuroscience.
Why it Complements Adults with Experience: Wendt says a bachelor's degree program in psychology could enhance your critical thinking skills, which adult learners might be able to use in a variety of new careers.
"People with psychology degrees learn critical thinking and people skills, which are good for human resources and marketing," Wendt says. "With good critical thinking skills, you can get jobs in recreation facilities or services that have clients with disabilities."
Potential Careers: The U.S. Department of Labor says employers might hire bachelor's degree holders in psychology for entry-level positions in social work. The degree also might be required for entry-level work as a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist.
Do you want to utilize your years of computer experience in your next career? Well, if your future aspirations involve the tech field, you might want to consider earning a bachelor's degree in computer science.
In this major, you might learn about computer programming, software design, and the way computers and humans interact. Common courses taken in the program include artificial intelligence, computer system organization, and digital system design, according to the College Board.
Why it Complements Adults with Experience: Wendt says combining hands-on experience with a computer science degree is a good game plan for adult learners.
"I would encourage it," Wendt says. "It's a pretty competitive work force, but a degree puts you ahead of the market in some places," Wendt says.
The U.S. Department of Labor echoes similar thoughts, noting that computer systems analysts, for example, might need an understanding of the business field if they work in a corporate setting.
Potential Career: Which careers might enable you to maximize your work experience and a computer science degree? According to the Department of Labor, software developers usually have a bachelor's degree in computer science.
A degree program in this major teaches students how people learn and the different methods of teaching, according to the College Board. Courses taken in this program might include educational psychology, instructional technology, and philosophy of education.
Why it Complements Adults with Experience: Are you an adult learner with experience coaching sports or mentoring others in the arts? If so, Wendt says you can couple those experiences with an education degree program to forge a new career as a teacher.
"Sometimes those experiences are built into the program, but if you already have experience with a band, sports, play production, or an arts program, it could help shorten your pathway to teaching," Wendt says. "It's great if you have volunteer experience."
Potential Careers: Teachers on the kindergarten through high school levels generally are required to have at least a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Wendt adds it's important to follow state guidelines for getting a teaching credential. According to the Department of Labor, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license.
Are you a "people person" with some years of work experience and desire to move into a business-related profession? In that case, you might want to consider earning a bachelor's degree in human resources (HR).
So what might an adult student learn in this degree? To start, a bachelor's degree program in human resources can teach what it takes to deal with employment issues such as recruiting, staffing, training, and pay, according to the College Board. Among the common courses taken in this degree program are organizational behavior, compensation and benefits, and employee and labor relations.
Why it Complements Adults with Experience: Wendt says adult learners who have previous job experience might be able to better grasp some of the employment concepts taught during a bachelor's degree program in HR.
"You will have a better understanding of personnel practices," Wendt says, "but if you don't have experience around HR, the degree program gives you the kind of business-related experience employers want."
Potential Career: The U.S. Department of Labor reports candidates usually need a combination of related work experience and a bachelor's degree in human resources or business administration to qualify for a career as a human resources manager.
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