Degrees You Can Earn in Your Free Time


Check out these five flexible online degree options that let you take classes when it's most convenient for you.

By Sarah Tann

Are you ready to go back to school and prepare for a shiny new career, but worry that your schedule is a bit too hectic to accommodate classes and schoolwork?

Then you'll probably be stoked to hear this bit of news: With online education, it's possible to take classes in your spare time.

That's right. An online degree program allows you to study when it's most convenient for you - whether it's during your lunch break at work, or in between going to the gym and the NBA playoffs.

Anna Katsuki, an academic advisor at Orange Coast College in California, agrees, saying that an online degree program allows students to take classes that work around their schedule.

However, she warns that online education isn't right for all students.

"Online classes are good for the working adult, the disciplined student, a busy student, but they have to be disciplined as they have to make sure they take the time to do the work and discussions online," says Katsuki.

Think an online education could be a good option for you? Keep reading to learn more about five popular online degrees you can earn in your spare time.

#1 Online Degree - Paralegal Studies

If you're drawn to TV shows like" Law and Order" and "Boston Legal," and want to use your spare time to prepare for a career in the law field, then you might want to look into schools that offer flexible online associate's degree programs in paralegal studies.

Flex-Factor: Got a hectic schedule? No worries. While every course of study - online or not - requires a fair amount of work and devotion, with an online degree program in paralegal studies you could delve into the fascinating world of law whenever it's convenient for you.

Click to Find the Right Online Paralegal Studies Program.

What You Might Study: According to the College Board, an educational organization that administers aptitude tests, a paralegal studies major "prepares students to work under the supervision of a lawyer or court, completing research, conducting investigations, and keeping records."

Potential Career Path: An associate's degree in paralegal studies can help you gain the skills and knowledge to prepare to pursue a career as a paralegal, who often help lawyers investigate the facts of cases, as well as research relevant laws and regulations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

#2 Online Degree - Business Administration

Do you want to work in finance, marketing... maybe even start up your own animal shelter one day? An online bachelor's or master's degree in business could offer you the versatility and flexibility to help get you started on the right path.

Flex-Factor: When you think of the business world, words that come to mind might include "fast-paced" and "deadlines," but when it comes to an online business degree - there's a bit more flexibility. In fact, an online business degree gives students the opportunity to study all aspects of the business world at a pace they're comfortable with. Now how's that for flexible?

Click to Find the Right Online Business Administration Program.

What You Might Study: With typical course offerings like operations management, marketing, and accounting, according to the College Board, you could gain the business know-how to one day "plan, organize, direct, and control an organization's activities."

Potential Career Path: Financial analysts, who study economic and business trends, are one of many career paths that a bachelor's in business administration can prep you to pursue, notes the U.S. Department of Labor. Note: A master's in business administration (MBA) might be required by some employers.

#3 Online Degree - Health Care Administration

Do you like to surf between websites like WebMD and Business Week? If so, your interests may align well with a flexible online bachelor's or master's degree in health care administration.

Flex-Factor: You could work towards your degree anytime and anywhere that's most convenient for you - whether that's on your couch after work or at the local coffee shop during lunch.

Click to Find the Right Online Health Care Administration Program.

What You Might Study: According to the College Board, students of this major may take commonly offered courses like financial management, human resources, and policy making to help them "learn all aspects of overseeing health care facilities and the services they provide."

Potential Career Path: A bachelor's degree in health care administration could help prep you to pursue a career as a medical and health services manager, who are responsible for improving the efficiency and quality of health care services, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. It also notes that a master's degree is common.

#4 Online Degree - Information Technology

If you're going to study something like information technology, why not jump in all the way and study technology through the means of technology? On top of simply being pretty efficient - an online bachelor's degree in IT and information systems is also pretty darn flexible.

Flex-Factor: Advances in technology tend to make our lives easier - just look at ATMs, iPhones, and computers. So it probably isn't a surprise that advances in technology have also allowed students the ease of working towards an IT and information systems degree on their own time. And hey, maybe when you're done earning this degree, you'll have ideas on how to make it even more flexible.

Click to Find the Right Online IT and Information Systems Program.

What You Might Study: As you might already suspect, an IT degree offers students insight into the high-tech world through commonly offered courses like computer networking, systems analysis and design, and ethical, legal, and social issues in information technology, notes the College Board.

Potential Career Path: There are a number of tech-savvy careers you could prep to pursue with an IT bachelor's degree. One such path is computer programmer, the writers and creators of software programs, says U.S. Department of Labor, which notes that a degree in computer science or a related field is a typical credential.

#5 Online Degree - Education

Envision yourself working with kids? If you want to help students find their place and path in life, then consider earning a flexible online bachelor's degree in education.

Flex-Factor: On top of being able to learn how to mold the minds of tomorrow's youth, you'll also be able to earn this degree at the time and place that's most convenient for you.

Click to Find the Right Online Education Program.

What You Might Study: "If you major in education, you'll develop your talents into the skills every teacher needs," the College Board says. "You'll find out how to set up and manage a classroom, design and teach inspiring lessons, and help students succeed no matter what their age, background, or learning style."

Potential Career Path: With a bachelor's degree in elementary education, you could have the opportunity to prepare to pursue a career as an elementary school teacher, who prepares younger students for future schooling, notes the U.S. Department of Labor. Aspiring toward a teaching career at a public school? You'll also need to have a state-issued certification or license.

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