Five Degrees Fit For Homebodies

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If home is truly where your heart is, you can earn one of these degrees without even leaving the house.

By Danielle Blundell

They say home is where the heart is, right? Well, these days home can also be a classroom, too. How, you ask? Through online education.

But how does an online degree program compare to earning a degree the traditional way?

"Online learning is much more student-driven and academically it is just as rigorous as traditional schooling," says Dee Masiello, assistant dean of academic and faculty affairs and lecturer for the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University.

And while online education might not be a good fit for everyone, it could be a good match for people who do their best thinking and learning from home. So if you're the stay-at-home type, keep reading for five degrees that are great for online study.

Degree #1: Accounting

Are you the first one to calculate what a 25 percent savings would mean on that great purse from QVC? Think you'd like to one day forge a career out of your number-crunching savvy? If you prefer to stay close to home for classes, consider working toward a bachelor's degree in accounting online.

As an accounting major, you can expect to learn to evaluate organizations' financial performance and risks, says the College Board, an organization that promotes higher education. You'll likely take classes such as tax accounting, auditing, and accounting information systems - and gain an understanding of balance sheets, net income statements, and how to comply with various tax laws.

Why Online: This online degree does more than simply provide students flexibility in completing coursework on their own time. "What's great about studying accounting online is that professors can utilize the same tools and techniques as they do in the classroom," says Masiello.

For example, using video software, she says, a professor can use a whiteboard to walk students through solving problems step-by-step - just as if they were in the classroom watching it first-hand.

Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.

Potential Career: With a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field, you could be prepared to pursue a career as an accountant or auditor - since the U.S. Department of Labor says that it is required for the these particular careers.

Degree #2: Computer Science

Are you a tech junkie who's most comfortable in the living room, logged on to the Internet? Why not spend some of those hours working toward an online bachelor's degree in computer science instead?

The College Board says that as a computer science major, you'll complete courses like artificial intelligence, digital system design, and software engineering. You'll also learn basic computer languages and how to program.

Why Online: Earning a computer science degree online is kind of neat because you are working with the technology that you're taking a class in, says Audra Barrett, associate vice president of instruction with Dallas Colleges Online, the virtual campus of the Dallas County Community College District in Texas. "Essentially you are working 'inside' the technology you are learning with, and that's a real advantage when you don't understand a concept. You literally have to figure it out with trial and error," she says.

Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

Potential Career: How does a position like "software developer" sound? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, these professionals usually have a bachelor's in computer science as well as strong programming skills.

Degree #3: Business Administration

Is your bedroom the place where you seem to come up with your best ideas for new business ventures? Well, what if you could get the necessary schooling to make your next business venture a success, without even leaving your home? An online bachelor's degree in business administration might be right up your alley.

According to the College Board, business administration and management majors learn to plan, organize, and direct a business' activities. If you study this degree, you could take common courses like financial management, accounting, and business policy and strategy. You'll also discuss real company case studies, adds the College Board, and apply what you've learned in other courses to solve business problems.

Why Online: According to Masiello, business administration coursework can be woven into an online platform rather easily. In addition to making case studies readily accessible, a faculty member can still walk a student through things like challenging accounting problems and difficult economic concepts online, she says.

Regular discussion sessions and message boards might take the place of conversations, says Masiello, but the advantage is that they can be accessed later for review.

Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.

Potential Career: A bachelor's degree in market research or something related is usually required for a career as a market research analyst. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, market research analysts might have a degree in the related fields of business administration, communications, or a social science. Many others in the career have degrees in statistics, computer science, or math. Top positions typically require a master's degree.

Degree #4: Graphic Design

You spend hours on your Draw Something app and feel most comfortable sketching your ideas out rather than writing them down. Sound familiar? Then try tapping into your homebody, artsy talents by earning an online degree in graphic design. The best part? You can work on your assignments while curled up on the couch.

According to the College Board, graphic design degree programs show students how to integrate text and image effectively. They also teach the design skills needed to create websites, books, or magazines. Common courses include graphic design techniques, production design, and Photoshop for designers, says the College Board.

Why Online: When graphic design moves online, Masiello says not only is it easy for students to create websites and online portfolios and share them, but the student critiques of their own work can be even more effective online than in a real life classroom. Why? The anonymity of the web really allows the more shy students to engage and get involved in meaningful ways.

"It creates a safe environment for critiquing and feedback," Masiello elaborates. "There's definitely comfort in dialogue through an electronic modality."

Click to Find the Right Graphic Design Program.

Potential Career: A bachelor's in graphic design could open doors for you as a graphic designer. The U.S. Department of Labor says this degree - or one in a related field - is usually required for this career. The Department of Labor also says that some graphic designers telecommute. All the more reason to pursue this field if you're a bona fide homebody.

Degree #5: Master's in Business Administration (MBA)

Okay, you might not picture people who earn MBAs as the "homebody" type. But if you've got a sound basis in business, a bachelor's degree - and your entrepreneurial self is more productive from the home office - then why not stick around there to earn your MBA online?

According to the Princeton Review, a test-preparation organization providing services for aspiring graduate students, MBA programs "are best for professionals looking to earn their MBAs on a personalized schedule to be followed from home." Students in MBA programs may enroll in courses such as decision sciences, organizational behavior, finance, and economics.

Why Online: "The group work that's a big part of an MBA program can be done online very successfully with the collaborative tools," says Masiello. In fact, she suggests the online medium itself can further prepare students for real-life problem solving and simulate the work environment they'll encounter as business professionals.

"We work in a global economic world, so the chances of teams having individuals spread wide and far is high, and you can't just book the conference room down the hall to get a project done," she says. "You have to figure out time zones and be able to communicate effectively using technology." Sounds like an online program could give you head start in this area.

Click to Find the Right MBA Program.

Potential Career: Earning your MBA could open doors to a career as a management analyst, since the U.S. Department of Labor says that some employers prefer to hire candidates with an MBA. In fact, in 2010, almost 28 percent of management analysts had a master's degree, the Department of Labor says.

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