Four Degrees Perfect for Online Study


Busy, but still want to earn a bachelor's? Check out these in-demand degree programs that can be completed online.

By Danielle Blundell

Ever feel like life has crept up on you, and that your round-the-clock commitments - whether it's your kids or your job - have gotten in the way of your education goals?

A likely story, yes, but one that you can rewrite at your own pace, whenever you work best, all the while gaining experience with the latest technology.

How, you ask? By getting schooled online.

Online degree programs are a smart choice, according to Sher Downing, executive director of online academic services at W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

"Students have control over when they get their assignments done," and today's programs incorporate simulations and video conferencing - the type of things you might encounter in the workplace one day.

"With online education, you're not only earning a degree, but you're getting the tools and understanding of how to work in a global environment," says Downing.

Chances are, if you're thinking about fitting school into your busy schedule, you'll want to choose a degree program wisely. Read on for four smart choices to pursue online.

Online Degree #1: Finance

Good with cash and numbers and want to put your money and math-savvy toward earning a degree and a living? An online bachelor's program in finance could be the best way to do it.

Degree IQ: Online finance programs are popular with people working full-time in business who feel they have hit a ceiling, says Kaye Shelton, an online education expert and professor at Lamar University in Texas. These people choose to grow by adding a degree to their resumes while they work.

She adds that finance and other business-type curricula lend themselves to going online pretty easily because of the way the technology can mimic the workplace. For example, many classes may offer online lab components that are true to life.

Click to Find the Right Online Finance Program Now.

How true to life? According to the College Board, the organization that administers the SAT exam, finance students learn how to effectively control the purse strings of an organization and may take common courses like investments, financial management, and international finance.

Related Career: Possible careers for finance degree holders include personal financial advisors and budget analysts. A bachelor's degree is needed for positions as a personal financial advisor, says the U.S. Department of Labor, and finance is one field that provides good preparation.

As a personal financial advisor, you might make suggestions for an individual's investments, taxes, and insurance, adds the Department of Labor. Take the budget analyst route, and you could find yourself preparing budget reports and monitoring corporate spending.

Online Degree #2: Health Care Administration

One thing's for sure: The medical world is complex. Maybe you already know the ins and outs of a hospital and want your education credentials to mirror your experience level. Or perhaps you're a take-charge, detail-oriented person interested in medicine but not providing care directly to patients. Either way, pursuing a bachelor's in this discipline online could be a solid career move.

Degree IQ: According to Lorrie Thomas Ross, M.A., CEO of Web Marketing Therapy and teacher of both traditional classroom and online courses in marketing at the college level, the popularity of medical programs like health care administration has grown by word of mouth because of the flexibility it provides students to learn on their own time. "They can read and re-read," she says, which helps them to pick up on complex concepts.

Click to Find the Right Online Health Care Administration Program Now.

While studying health services administration, you might learn how to oversee the operation of a hospital or doctor's office and might study courses such as accounting and human resources management, according to the College Board. You might also cover the sociology and psychology of aging, and get a sense of how Medicare and Medicaid work.

Related Career: Pursuing a bachelor's degree in health care administration could prepare you to pursue a career as a health services manager, where, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, you might represent the facility at investor meetings, keep up to date on new laws, and create work schedules. Job requirements vary by health care facility, but the Department of Labor notes that "prospective medical and health services managers have a bachelor's degree in health administration."

Online Degree #3: Public Administration

Wish you could give back to your community day after day and earn a living doing it? An online bachelor's or master's degree in public administration could be the first step towards a meaningful career at a nonprofit or in the local, state, or federal government.

Degree IQ: "Whether it's online or a brick-and-mortar classroom, the learning is the same," explains Todd Nicolet, director of MPA@UNC, a new public administration degree program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "But there are a couple of extra benefits to online: Students have the flexibility to do some portions of their work at whatever time they want. Physically they can be located anywhere, and if they're juggling a job, they have the opportunity of taking what they're learning in class and applying it to a real environment."

Click to Find the Right Online Public Administration Program Now.

Some of the courses you might take in a public administration program, according to the College Board, include community analysis, economic development, and grant writing.

Related Career: Studying public administration could prep you to pursue a career as a social or community service manager, says the U.S. Department of Labor. As a social and community service manager, you could be responsible for designing, overseeing, and raising funds for a social service program that targets a community. You can meet the education requirement for this career by earning a bachelor's degree in public administration, adds the Department of Labor.

Online Degree #4: Computer Science

Wonder what's going on behind the scenes of your favorite sites and apps? Maybe the thought of debugging a program all night long sounds more like a fun challenge than a pain. If you're already on your computer all of the time anyway, consider an online degree program in computer science.

Degree IQ: Shelton thinks pursuing an online degree in computer science makes sense for techy types who are comfortable using their computers in other facets of their lives - and likely are already familiar with technology they'd be learning to master in the online classroom.

Click to Find the Right Online Computer Science Program Now.

Computer science programs cover languages like C++ and Java in programming classes, according to the College Board. This kind of coursework prepares you to solve problems in computing and write instructions for a computer to follow.

Related Career: Get your bachelor's in computer science and you might be well-groomed to apply for a job as a computer programmer. These professionals write the code that computers follow to run software programs. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, most computer programmers have a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field.

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