Six Degrees for Busy Adults

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These degrees can be a great option for people on the go.

By Molly Marcot

You probably realize that a college degree could mean more job opportunities, but with obligations to work, family, and the community, you may not be able to attend classroom lectures on a set schedule.

If you're always on the go but looking to further your education, pursuing an online program may be a great choice.

"For most people, the benefits of studying for an online degree include convenience, flexibility, and choice in terms of class timing," says Curt Bonk, instructional systems technology professor at Indiana University and expert in online learning. "Perhaps the biggest plus with online learning is that you don't have to sacrifice being away from your current job."

Online education isn't for everyone, and there are tremendous benefits to on-campus learning, but if that just isn't an option for you, the online road can provide your path.

Here are several online degree programs busy adults could pursue from their personal computers on their own time.

Degree #1: Associate's in Dental Hygiene

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With the right dental hygiene degree program, you can begin to explore the rich world of dentistry before you head out to pick the kids up from school or after you clock out of work for the day.

Why Online: While you might fear that learning skills that require direct contact with another human being isn't possible online, consider this: "Many schools are making procedural videos more available for students to view at their own convenience," says Bonk. "Not getting to meet face-to-face to learn how to deal with teeth issues could be problematic if there weren't instructional step-by-step classes taped for students to understand concepts better."

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Dental Hygiene Program.

What You Can Expect: The field of dental hygiene challenges students to understand how to treat tooth decay and mouth injuries, according to the College Board. Plus, dental hygiene programs typically teach the basics of preventive dentistry.

Potential Career:*

Degree #3: Bachelor's in Health Care Administration

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Are you one of those busy adults who spend their days planning and coordinating various events, whether it's kids' after school activities or a local charity drive? Studying for a degree in health care administration may tie into skills you already have.

Why Online: "In health care administration, students take more theory-driven courses, which includes learning about procedures, operations, management, leadership skills, and ethics - all of which are easier to create online than a hands-on laboratory experiment," Bonk says. "Learning about real world cases and scenarios in [health care administration] such as the impact of HIPAA**, helps students understand materials quicker as well."

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Health Care Administration Program.

What You Can Expect: Health services administration students learn to oversee health care facilities and services, says the College Board. Instruction in policy making, financial management, and human resources is likely.

Potential Career:*

Degree #4: Bachelor's in Computer Science

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The nice thing about your home computer is that it's usually ready when you are; you don't need to schedule time with a university to use it, and working on a computer science degree solely on a computer makes sense.

Why Online: "Studying things like computer science is great for online learning, because it includes objective skills that can be systematically tested and measured by a computer system itself," Bonk says. "Plus, students gain skills that are highly valued and immediately relevant in the workplace."

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Computer Science Program.

What You Can Expect: The College Board states that computer science programs might include instruction in computer programming and software design. Understanding how humans interact with computer systems is also a part of this degree.

Potential Careers:*

Degree #5: Master's in Business Administration

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Understanding how to manage a business may sound daunting, but you may find that pairing online classes with your busy schedule is helpful for successful organization and time management.

Why Online: According to Alex Chisholm, the director of statistical analysis for the Graduate Management Admission Council, the online environment is a good fit for the direction business is heading. "As more companies expand and do business internationally, operations are increasingly being conducted digitally," Chisholm says.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Business Administration Program.

What You Can Expect: In most business programs, students will take courses including finance, economics, management, and organizational behavior, in order to get an overview of the major business areas, according to the Princeton Review.

Potential Careers:*

Degree #6: Master's in Educational Leadership

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If education is your field of interest, moving into a supervisory role can be the perfect next step, and an online master's program can be just the way to prepare for this endeavor.

"Working full-time as a teacher or a counselor or as a school principal and getting retooled with these online opportunities is an extremely attractive option to furthering a career in education," Bonk says.

Why Online: Teachers looking to further their careers may enjoy the online education world as they maintain their jobs while learning about new concepts and philosophies that could help them within their own face-to-face classrooms.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Education Leadership Program.

What You Can Expect: The Princeton Review states that master's students studying educational leadership should be ready to learn about leadership theory, educational policy, and curriculum studies. They may also receive training in areas like educational technology and athletics administration.

Potential Career:*

* All potential careers listed from the 2014-2015 U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook. The Department of Labor cites the associated degrees as common, required, preferred, or one of a number of degrees acceptable as preparation for the potential career. In some instances, candidates might require further schooling, professional certifications, or experience, before being qualified to pursue the career.

** The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), established the standards for the privacy and security of individually identifiable health information.

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