Degrees You Can Earn While Keeping A Busy Schedule


Thinking of earning your degree online? Here are six degrees that are perfect to study virtually.

By Diana Bocco

Thinking about pursuing a degree, but don't have the time to drive back and forth to campus? Online learning might be a good option for you, since you could earn your degree without even setting foot on campus.

According to Jon Lenrow, associate dean of operations and faculty support at Peirce College in Philadelphia, enrolling in an online degree program allows students to complete their coursework around their schedule.

Plus, "students in an online program also learn how to maintain communication through their regular use of technology - a skill they will easily apply to their future experience in the workplace," Lenrow explains.

And while online study can be convenient as well as beneficial to your career, it's not for everyone. It often takes hard work and self-discipline to be successful.

But if it sounds like you might be a good candidate for virtual learning, here are six degrees that are especially suited to the online environment.

Online Degree #1: Information Technology

If you're good with technology and want to further your education without setting foot outside of your home, you could consider earning your degree in information technology online.

Information technology students take a combination of technical and communication courses, according to the College Board. These might include computer networking, database management systems, and systems analysis and design.

Why Study Online: An online degree can actually be a better option for information technology students than a traditional classroom setting, as information technology is all about working on computers and in online environments, explains Stephanie Burak, an instructional designer and education consultant with Harper College in Illinois.

Plus, "to thrive in most IT environments, you need to be able to work independently to solve problems and research solutions online," Burak adds. And while information technology graduates often work with a team, each individual works on his own, completing his own tasks and working independently on a personal computer, Burak says.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Information Technology Program.

Potential Career: Database administrator

Database administrators use software to organize and store data, says the U.S. Department of Labor. Typically, database administrators have a bachelor's degree in a computer- or information-related subject, according to the Department of Labor. However, employers with large databases may prefer those who have an MBA with a concentration in information systems.

Online Degree #2: Health Care Administration

Want a career in the booming field of health care, but feel faint at the sight of blood? Earning a degree in health care administration might be a better option for you than a degree focused on direct patient care. Best of all, you can earn your degree online, from wherever there is an Internet connection.

The College Board says health services administration students might take courses in health care law, human resources management, health care ethics, accounting, and statistics.

Why Study Online: Today's online health care administration student can expect to utilize valuable technologies in the virtual classroom - the same kind of technologies he'll then apply to a job once he graduates, says Stephanie Donovan, the faculty chair of health programs at Peirce College in Philadelphia.

"Some of these technologies include business analytics, simulation software, and virtual lab modules in a variety of technical and managerial applications," says Donovan.

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

Potential Career: Medical and health services manager

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, medical and health services managers might oversee a health care facility, or specialize in managing a specific department. Most prospective medical and health services managers have a bachelor's degree in health administration, says the Department of Labor. However, master's degrees in health services, business administration, public health, long-term care administration, and public administration are also common.

Online Degree #3: Business Administration

If you have business savvy but need some credentials to get you into that management seat, you may want to consider studying business administration. And earning it online means you don't need to sacrifice the rest of your busy schedule.

Business administration students may take courses in financial and operations management, business ethics and law, and economics, the College Board says.

Why Study Online: An online business administration degree program is more likely to put you in touch with international students, as well as classmates of all ages with different values, interests, and needs, Burak says.

"The interactions you would have with students who have varying perspectives and experiences offer intangible benefits that could significantly enrich your learning experience in ways that are invaluable to a business professional," Burak adds.

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

Potential Career: Management consultant

Management consultants (also known as management analysts) identify ways to make an organization more efficient, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. To pursue a career as a management consultant, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree, since the Department of Labor notes that this is the typical entry-level requirement. Some employers might prefer those with a master's degree in business administration (MBA), the Department says.

Online Degree #4: Criminal Justice

If your ideal career involves fighting crime and catching the bad guys, you could consider earning a degree in criminal justice. And by studying this subject online, you could earn your degree while still tending to life's other obligations.

The College Board says criminal justice students might take courses in criminology, statistics, the U.S. criminal-justice system, criminal law, victimology, and more.

Why Study Online: "[O]ne major advantage of earning your criminal justice degree online is that you can review and repeat exercises over and over again," Burak adds. In a traditional classroom setting, on the other hand, you're more likely to have to take tests or answer questions on the spot, which rarely allows for repetition, Burak says.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Criminal Justice Program.

Potential Career: Private detective

Private detectives provide different services that might include tracing missing persons and investigating computer crimes, the U.S. Department of Labor says. Most private detectives usually have some college education, according to the Department of Labor. Postsecondary courses in criminal justice and political science are especially helpful. Detectives also need a license in most states, the Department says.

Online Degree #5: Nursing

If you have a nurturing side and want a career that will be in-demand for years to come, consider earning your degree in nursing. And by earning it online, you don't have to compromise the rest of your schedule to go back to school.

Nursing students might take classes in health assessment, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and microbiology, according to the College Board. Lab sessions are also part of the curriculum, the College Board says.

Why Study Online: Although nursing is a hands-on career, there are many benefits to earning your degree online, says Burak. "[N]ursing today is a different animal than it was several years ago," Burak says. For example, nurses are now required to use PDAs, submit Electronic Medical Records (EMR), and demonstrate general ease and proficiency with technology, according to Burak.

All that means that learning and engaging online is a great first step toward recognizing your existing skills with various relevant technologies, Burak explains.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Nursing Program.

Potential Career: Registered nurse

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, registered nurses do things like help educate the public on health issues and coordinate patient care. The Department of Labor says you can take one of three educational paths to pursue this career: a bachelor's degree or associate's degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program. After graduating, you will also be required to obtain licensure.

Online Degree #6: Marketing

If you're fascinated by how commercials and other forms of media reflect a company's message, you might be interested in earning a degree in marketing. The best part? You could earn this degree online, from your kitchen table.

Marketing students could take courses in advertising and promotion, consumer behavior, marketing research and strategy, and professional selling and sales management, according to the College Board.

Why Study Online: Learning marketing online could be beneficial if you want to go into digital marketing or social media, says Lynn Berger, a professional certified coach and master career counselor. "You will be able to practice your new skills exclusively in an online environment, which will enhance your learning by identifying the advantages and disadvantages of working on the Web without face-to-face interaction," Berger says.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Marketing Program.

Potential Career: Market research analyst

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, market research analysts study market conditions to determine potential sales of a product or service. If you want to pursue this career, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree, the Department of Labor says. It notes that courses in statistics, research methods, and marketing are essential for market research analysts.

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