Six Online Degrees That Fit Your Schedule

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Is life keeping you from fulfilling your educational goals? Check out these six online degree programs where the bell rings according to your schedule.

By Danielle Blundell

Between your job, kids, even pets and hobbies, you've got a lot going on. But having a full plate shouldn't be the reason you can't achieve your education and career goals - whatever they may be. What's the solution, you wonder? Enter the online degree program, where you can log onto the Web and complete coursework at your leisure.

"The big benefit of studying online is the flexibility and convenience," says Lori McClaren, director of online programs for William Peace University's School of Professional Studies. "You can study at your own pace and tailor classes to your own schedule - even nights if you work full-time or have family obligations."

But keep in mind that while earning your degree online can be flexible and convenient, it's not necessarily easier. Going to school online takes good time management skills and dedication to complete all of the coursework - especially if you're already dealing with a full plate.

If you're up for the challenge, read on to discover the built-in benefits of tackling these degree programs on the Web.  

Online Degree #1: Business Administration

Maybe you've been in the business world for a while and are gunning for a promotion, but just can't leave your 9 to 5 to get the extra schooling you need on your resume. 'Well, what if you could go to school at the coffee shop on your lunch break as an online business administration student?

While earning a degree in business administration and management, you might take courses like financial management, economics, and human resources management, says the College Board, a nonprofit organization that advocates for higher education. You'll also discuss case studies and talk about challenges that real companies are facing.

Why Go Online? "A lot of students can maintain their jobs while studying business administration online," says McClaren. "That's a big advantage because then they can apply what they're learning online to their professional career in real-time scenarios at work."

Also, McClaren says professors can hold online office hours and help students walk through tough problems in accounting or finance classes - just as if they were using a blackboard in the classroom.

Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.

Potential Career: You might consider a career as a financial analyst once you earn this degree. The U.S. Department of Labor says that most financial analyst positions require a bachelor's degree in a related field like business administration, accounting, or finance, to name a few. Financial analysts are sometimes responsible for making portfolio recommendations or developing strategies for companies making investments, among other duties, says the Department of Labor.

Online Degree #2: Psychology

The mind is a fascinating thing, no? Ever given any thought to learning about its complexities, and how to make a career out of talking people through their problems? It might sound like it takes a lot of work and time - and it does. But what if you had the convenience of studying psychology from your own home when you have time?

As a psychology major, you'll study the way humans and animals act, feel, and think, says the College Board. You might take classes like personality, developmental psychology, and statistical methods in psychology, it says.

Why Go Online? Turns out earning a bachelor's degree in psychology online isn't all that different from coursework at a traditional brick-and-mortar school. "Studying psychology online provides students with a lot of opportunities to interact and engage with case studies and resources just like in the classroom," says McClaren.

In fact, McClaren has found that online coursework can actually augment the study and practice of psychology. How? Well, online students are often spread wide geographically, says McClaren, which creates a wealth of experiences with issues from diverse populations that can be explored and shared between students.

Click to Find the Right Psychology Program.

Potential Career: Get a bachelor's degree in psychology, and you could prepare to pursue a career as a direct-service social worker. Although the U.S. Department of Labor says a bachelor's in social work is the most common requirement for entry-level positions, employers may hire candidates with related degrees like psychology or sociology. As a direct-service social worker, you might identify people who need help, assist them in adjusting to life changes, and respond to crisis situations, the Department of Labor says.

Online Degree #3: Computer Science

Are you a master techie that loves tinkering with code, computer hardware, and different apps? Studying computer science online to earn a bachelor's degree might be right up your alley - especially if you are already plugged into technology during your free time anyway.

While earning this degree, you could learn about how humans and computer systems interact from a scientific perspective, says the College Board. Some courses you might expect to take include artificial intelligence, software engineering, and data structures and algorithms.

Why Go Online? "The beauty of studying computer science online is a lot of computer science classes really become a model of best practices," says McClaren. In other words, says McClaren, the computer languages and coding you'll learn to use for your assignments, and the collaborating you'll do with classmates on optimizing software and applications via the Web, could be part of your 9-to-5 someday.

Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

Potential Career: A bachelor's degree in computer science could prepare you to pursue a career as a software developer. According to the U.S. Department of Labor,' software developers typically hold a bachelor's in computer science, or a related field. Good programming skills are also important.

Developers create and test computer programs, says the Department of Labor, in order to make sure the user end experience is both friendly and goes off without any bugs or glitches.

Online Degree #4: Paralegal Studies

Are you a pro at finding obscure facts and researching subjects in detail? Interested in law but don't have time to commute to class on campus? Now could be a good time to look into earning an associate's degree in paralegal studies online.

While earning this degree, you'll likely learn how to work under the supervision of a lawyer or court, and complete research, conduct investigations, and keep records, according to the College Board. Some courses you could take include criminal law and procedure, litigation, and legal research and writing.

Why Go Online? According to McClaren, because a lot of the work you could end up doing as a paralegal takes place on the Web, an online program in paralegal studies could increase your familiarity with search engines and database research. "I'd imagine a lot of the research that paralegals do would be online anyway," says McClaren. "So honing the skills needed to identify and look for information and assess its credibility is built into the coursework."

Click to Find the Right Paralegal Program.

Potential Career: With an associate's degree in paralegal studies, you could prepare to pursue a career as a paralegal, as the U.S. Department of Labor says this is one path paralegals take. If you already have a bachelor's degree, you could earn a certificate instead. While you won't actually argue cases before a judge, the Department of Labor notes that your daily tasks will be an integral part of preparing lawyers for the courtroom, which includes drafting legal documents, organizing files, and researching facts for cases.

Online Degree #5: Graphic Design

You love to doodle aimlessly and sketch out your ideas everywhere. So why not channel those creative juices into pursuing a fun, lucrative career as a graphic designer? A good place to start mastering the basics might be in an online bachelor's degree program for graphic design, where doodling could be part of your coursework.

While you're earning your degree in graphic design, you might learn the skills necessary for creating looks for books, magazines, websites, and more. Courses you could take include production design, typography, and graphic design techniques, according to the College Board.

Why Go Online? According to McClaren, not only does an online graphic design program hold up to a more traditional program, it also has a few other key benefits."Studying graphic design online still incorporates that whole social aspect of sharing, critique, and discussing art work," says McClaren. "You can get your work out there and put your portfolio online, and it's accessible to everyone instantly for critique."

Moreover, as McClaren explains, "A lot of job descriptions and skill requirements are ever shifting to being technology-based. So online classes serve as a platform for learning and a model of how to gain skills and apply them to real life." Graphic design is one such example, as a lot of artwork today is digital, she says. For instance, graphic designer coursework will involve a lot of projects in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop - the same tools professionals use for clients' websites and promotional materials.

Click to Find the Right Graphic Design Program.

Potential Career: For graphic designer positions, you'll need a bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related field, as the U.S. Department of Labor says it is a requirement. As a graphic designer, whether freelance or in an office environment, the Department of Labor says you can expect to be responsible for tasks such as creating logos, ads, or other visual concepts that effectively communicate a company's ideas and pique consumer interest.

Online Degree #6: Health Care Administration

Do you already work in health care, but want to sharpen your administrative skills and take them to the next level? Getting a bachelor's in health care administration online is a good first step toward preparing to pursue a career where you can put those skills to good use.

As a health services administration student, the College Board says that you'll study the changing state of health care closely, and you might take classes like health care ethics, statistics, and anatomy and physiology.

Why Go Online? McClaren says working on your own schedule - weekends, nighttime, whenever - is one big benefit of studying something like health care administration online. This is especially convenient if you already work a job with erratic hours or log long shifts in some other capacity at a hospital, doctor's office, or other medical facility.

Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.

Potential Career: Earn a bachelor's degree in health care administration, and you could be prepared to pursue a career as a medical and health care services manager. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, "Prospective medical and health services managers have a bachelor's degree in health administration." In this administrative medical career, you could expect to be in charge of things like record-keeping, creating work schedules, and managing patient fees and billing at a facility, says the Department of Labor. 

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