Online Degrees For Adults With Busy Lives

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Thinking about going back to school, but not sure you have the time? It might be time to log into online education.

By Terence Loose

Do you want to go back to school to earn a degree that could help you pursue a new career, but wonder "Where am I going to get the time?" We get it. You've got a job, family, maybe even kids. You're an adult, with very little time.

But don't lose hope - online education might be a good fit for you and your busy schedule.

In fact, over 90 percent of all academic leaders rate the scheduling flexibility of online as ''superior'' or ''somewhat superior'' to that for face-to-face instruction, according to a 2011 online education report published by the Babson Survey Research Group, and co-published by the College Board, a nonprofit research organization that promotes higher education.

And with online education often giving students the option of attending class from anywhere, it's not hard to believe that online learning could be a viable option for busy students.

Ready to earn a degree on your time? Read on for five popular online degrees for adult students.

Online Degree #1: Bachelor's in Accounting

Are you the one in your household who balances the checkbook and makes sure the taxes are filed on time? It might be time to upgrade those skills by pursuing an online bachelor's degree in accounting.

Adults Welcome: This online degree not only gives you the flexibility you need to advance your education, but for adults looking to change careers, "It's also a very practical, career-focused degree," says Heathfield.

Click Here to Find the Right Online Accounting Program.

Degree Highlights: Not sure you want to sign up for classes in how to count beans? Good, because according to the College Board, this degree prepares you to do much more. In fact, they say you'll not only learn to analyze and record financial data, but also communicate your findings to business management and individuals.

Related or Potential Career(s): In addition to accountant, this degree prepares you to pursue a career in auditing. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, most accountant and auditor positions require a bachelor's degree in accounting or one in a related subject.


Online Degree #2: Bachelor's in Computer Science

If you spend a lot of time on the computer - and who doesn't these days - pursuing an online bachelor's degree in computer science might be just the way to make that computer time even more productive.

Adults Welcome: If you're an adult with the goal of getting a degree that could impress a variety of employers, then computer science is a good choice, says Heathfield. "It is the best degree I can think of for the future and employment options, because every business relies on computers or a network of them," she says.

Click Here to Find the Right Online Computer Science Program.

Degree Highlights: Does a fairly rigorous program featuring some math get you fired up? We hope so, because Heathfield says that's likely what you'll get with this online degree. The College Board highlights the fact that this degree teaches students programming and the theory and design of computer software.

Related or Potential Career(s): Most computer programmers have a bachelor's degree in computer science or in a related field of study, says the U.S. Department of Labor. These people often write code to create software programs.


Online Degree #3: Bachelor's in Human Resources

Are you good with people? Are you gifted at quickly summing up their strengths and weaknesses? An online bachelor's degree in human resources could refine your natural talents into marketable skills.

Adults Welcome: This is a great degree for an adult student for a few reasons, says Heathfield.

"It's a practical and versatile degree, in my opinion. Employers of all industries are recognizing that one of their most valuable assets is their staff, so knowing how to find, or keep, good people is a great skill to have," says Heathfield. She adds that adults may be more suitable for this online degree since they often have a lot of experience dealing with or working with people in both the workplace and life.

Click Here to Find the Right Online Human Resources Program.

Degree Highlights: In this degree, you might take courses that ask questions such as: What makes people want to work? How does being part of a group affect the way people act? How can leaders change the culture of an organization? You'll also study how to handle business issues, from staffing and training, to health and safety in the workplace, says the College Board.

Related or Potential Career(s): Human resources specialist and human resources manager are two positions for which the U.S. Department of Labor says employers usually want a bachelor's degree in human resources or business administration. Qualifying for a managerial human resources role - which means recruiting, screening, interviewing, and training workers - usually also requires work experience, says the Department of Labor.


Online Degree #4: Associate's or Certificate in Medical Assisting

Have you always pictured yourself studying medicine, but you aren't sure your schedule permits the demanding years of medical school? An online certificate or associate's degree in medical assisting could help you pursue a career in the health field at a faster pace.

Adults Welcome: "This is a degree that will teach skills needed in the booming health care industry," says Heathfield. And an online certificate or associate's degree in medical assisting can be completed in as little as one or two years, respectively, making each a great fit for a busy adult lifestyle.

Click Here to Find the Right Online Medical Assisting Program.

Degree Highlights: The College Board says that medical assisting programs teach students how to help doctors with both administrative and clinical tasks. Typical classes, according to the College Board, include medical terminology, medical software applications, pharmacology, diseases of the human body, and more.

Related or Potential Career(s): Yes, believe it or not, online medical assisting certificate and associate's degree programs are designed to help you pursue a career as a medical assistant. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, "There are no formal educational requirements for becoming a medical assistant in most states. However, some medical assistants graduate from formal education programs, and employers may prefer such training." This includes certificate and associate's degree programs.


Online Degree #5: Associate's in Dental Assisting

Do you like the idea of helping to put more bright smiles in the world? Well, your shining personality might help on this front, but an online associate's degree in dental assisting will likely be much more effective.

Adults Welcome: As a busy adult, time is probably scarce and the faster you can get something done, the better. And while completion times do vary by student, an associate's degree in dental assisting could be a great option if you're looking to pursue a new career sooner rather than later. In fact, this degree is attainable online in as few as two years.

Click Here to Find the Right Online Dental Assisting Program.

Degree Highlights: Are you ready to learn how to do everything from taking dental x-rays and whole mouth impressions to sterilizing equipment and keeping dental records in order? That's what this major will teach you, thanks to classes like dental radiology, oral anatomy, dental records, and more, says the College Board.

Related or Potential Career(s): Not surprisingly, an online associate's degree in dental assisting is designed to help you pursue a career as a dental assistant. The Department of Labor also says different states have different requirements for this position, ranging from no formal education requirements to graduating from an accredited program and passing an exam. Formal education programs could lead to certificates, diplomas, or associate's degrees.


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