The Value of Online Degrees


Discover the value in earning these five degrees online.

By Tony Moton    

Is going to school online worth it?

When it comes to value to employers and quality of education, the answer may be yes.

"I do see online education becoming more popular and more accepted by employers," says Jonathan Rich, a psychologist who teaches online courses at California Southern University. "Some employers actually value online degrees more because they show that someone is able to work well online."

As for quality, a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009 and updated in 2010 found that "on average, students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction."

Online college professor Dani Babb says the added value of online degrees is related to the way online courses are conducted. Students generally interact more with fellow students and teachers when they are online, which helps build the kind of communications skills today's employers are seeking, she says.

"So many employers want people who know how to use technology and how to communicate online in the written form," says Babb, who runs the Babb Group, a Los Angeles-area consulting firm that advises online educators.

Thinking about pursuing an online education? Keep reading to learn more about the value of earning these five degrees online.

Online Degree # 1 - Business Administration

Do your interests include the stock market, financial news, or investing? An online bachelor's degree in business administration can help develop your expertise and knowledge of business practices and financial strategies.

Along the way, your online studies might include economics, statistics, corporate budgeting, and accounting, based on reports by the U.S. Department of Labor. Some of the careers that might require this degree for entry include administrative services manager, financial analyst, and personal financial advisor.

Click Here to Find Business Administration Programs

Value of Online Study: Students in online business administration programs often work in groups or teams, much like they would in real-world business practices. Employers in this field value people who know how to effectively use technology to, as one might say, get down to business.

"Knowing how to use the latest and greatest technology at school translates into an easier time being hired," says Babb.

She adds that the objective of some online business programs is to give students a chance to develop their entrepreneurial skills and show they have the potential to make products or services profitable. "It's all done online with things like mock presentations on Skype, just as if the venture capitalists were in the room," Babb says.

Online Degree #2 - Health Care Administration

A starting point for people interested in managing a health care facility might be an online bachelor's degree in health care administration. In the degree program, students become familiar with the practices and principles of managing hospitals, nursing homes, and clinical facilities.

The degree generally qualifies workers for entry-level or assistant management positions at smaller health care organizations, the Department of Labor reports.

Click Here to Find Health Care Administration Programs

Value of Online Study: Getting an online bachelor's degree in health care administration can help students qualify for careers in specialty fields such as health information management. Professionals in information management have the important task of organizing and protecting patient records at a time when threats to online security abound.

In an online degree program, prospective health information managers might experience what it's like to work with records that are increasingly being switched from paper to online databases. "In school, they are getting strong doses of medical records and medical coding, and they are doing it all online," Babb says. "This is hands-on experience they can use as health information managers."

Online Degree #3 - Paralegal Studies

If you want to prepare to pursue a career as a paralegal, where legal research and writing would be part of your day to day life, consider earning your associate's degree in paralegal studies online.

According to the Department of Labor, an associate's degree is the most common program for entry into the paralegal profession.

Click Here to Find Paralegal Studies Programs

Value of Online Study: In today's high-tech world, an online paralegal studies program could help teach students how to work from remote locations. This can be a valuable asset for employers looking to hire virtual assistants, paralegals who work for firms away from offices.

According to the American Bar Association, virtual assistants serve as independent contractors and provide various paralegal services while online.

"Online paralegal programs can get you started doing (independent) contract work before you're done with school," Babb says. "You can hit the ground running and make money with your knowledge. And it doesn't require five to 10 years of experience."

Online Degree #4 - Medical Assisting

Thinking about ways to enter the booming health care industry?

Earning an associate's degree in medical assisting can qualify you for entry-level positions in this fast-growing profession. Medical assistants are among the fastest growing of all health care occupations.

Nearly 164,000 new workers will be hired between 2008 and 2018, says the Department of Labor.

Click Here to Find Medical Assisting Programs

Value of Online Study: An associate's degree in medical assisting is a valuable online degree option for people who want scheduling flexibility as they prepare to enter the health care profession.

Some portions of the degree work must be completed in a clinical setting (face-to-face work with actual patients), but online courses provide students an opportunity to generally pick and choose when they want to study.

"The value is that you are able to go to school while you are still working," Babb says.

Online Degree #5 - Human Resource Management

If you already have a bachelor's degree and professional experience in the field of human resources (HR), moving into a senior-level position might be your next logical step.

A master's degree program provides study in specialized areas such as labor relations and personnel management, according to the Department of Labor. Prospective labor relations specialists, for example, take courses in labor law, collective bargaining, and labor economics.

Click Here to Find Human Resource Management Programs

Value of Online Study: Human resources professionals are being required to become more familiar with changing technologies, computer systems, and digital communications in order to provide services to their companies, the Department of Labor reports.

An online degree program can help familiarize degree students with the kind of technology they will need in their HR careers.

"The biggest change in human resources management right now has been the migration of workers into the telecommunications environment," Babb says. "It's important to have experience of working with people who are not in the same room as you."

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