The Eight Most Popular Online Degrees
Considering earning your degree online? Find out which online degrees rank highest in popularity.
Are you thinking of going to school online and wondering which degree to choose?
Eduventures, a Boston-based research firm, ranked the top eight online bachelor's degrees in terms of enrollment in 2009.
Keep reading to see why these degrees are so popular.
#1 Online Degree - Business
Enrollment for online business - sometimes called business administration - degrees topped all others in 2009, according to Eduventures. Perhaps that's because this program generally helps students hone the same computer skills that are used in the business world.
You're also likely to get a chance to broaden your business horizons beyond a single zip code, according to David Eby, associate vice president at Southern New Hampshire University.
"This learning without boundaries is especially relevant for someone seeking a career in the global business marketplace," Eby says.
#2 Online Degree - Computer and Information Technology (IT)
Looking to get into an area like online computer support, cyber security, or network administration? Consider earning your IT degree online.
IT finished second among online bachelor's degrees in 2009 enrollment, according to Eduventures.
While some IT students may be more comfortable than most when learning in an online environment, there are also career-specific reasons that could be driving the demand for this particular online degree, according to Sam Govea, executive dean of distance learning at Brookhaven College in Texas.
"The need to remain knowledgeable in as many IT programming areas as possible equals job security and marketability to potential employers," says Govea. .
#3 Online Degree - Criminal Justice
Good guys and bad guys alike use the internet. Guess what? Online criminal justice students do too, and they're doing it in increasingly large numbers.
"Most of the students in our CJ program are adults with families looking for a career change, and online classes provide an opportunity for them to work on this new degree according to their schedule," Govea says.
In addition to flexibility, these programs can potentially prepare you to pursue a wide variety of careers, according to Eby.
"From prevention to enforcement to the legal process to terrorism and homeland security the online classroom affords individuals the opportunity to learn from experts around the country..." he says.
#4 Online Degree - Nursing
While nursing may not be the first online bachelor's degree that springs to mind, it finished fourth overall in terms of enrollment in 2009, according to Eduventures.
Ana Donaldson, co-author of "Engaging The Online Learner," says that online nursing programs are helping meet the industry's growing demand for a trained workforce.
"This is a group of individuals who traditionally enjoy working collaboratively" and they "often thrive in an online setting," Donaldson says.
At Brookhaven College in Texas, Govea says that nursing is the school's number one requested program.
#5 Online Degree - Education
Want to stay current in education? Studying online is just one of many technology-driven changes that are revolutionizing the field.
If you move into a teaching career, you'll likely want to incorporate your own online tools and technology into your courses, whether you are teaching online or inside a classroom. By getting your degree online, you could study different approaches and techniques to do this.
"The future of education needs to be anchored in the integration of technology to foster effective learning," says Donaldson. "Online educational opportunities are meeting the learning styles of today's students who we have failed with yesterday's teaching methods."
#6 Online Degree - Health Care
If you're looking for a career-focused degree that you can earn online, health care may be your pick.
Not only is this a growing field, but the degree finished in at number six in terms of online enrollment, according to Eduventures' research.
The health care program is popular at Brookhaven College in Texas, says Govea, who uses a simple math equation to explain why. "The highest rate of pay + shortest degree = high enrollments," he says.
Generally speaking, studying health care could be a smart move to make. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, health care features 10 of the 20 fastest growing careers.
#7 Online Degree - Communications
Not long ago it was email...Now it's social media that is changing the way people communicate. Studying communications online is a natural way to immerse oneself in this rapidly evolving field.
While studying communications online, you'll likely be working independently and in small and large groups, utilizing tools like live video streaming, webcams, message boards, and email.
"Excellent communication skills are a critical qualifier for any job seeker," Eby says. "Online communication students gain real-world experience in communications, advertising, media, and public relations utilizing a wide variety of media."
"In an online classroom, students interact with professors and peers from around the globe, teaching them to communicate in a virtual environment," Eby says.
#8 Online Degree - Psychology
Since people are spending more and more time online these days, it makes sense that psychology students may be trending in that direction too.
Psychology, after all, is the study of human behavior. Sound appealing? You're not alone.
Govea says that online psychology degree programs have exploded in the last ten years and he thinks that career changers in particular are helping drive demand. "Often, when individuals are forced to redefine themselves through a response to a reduction in force or early retirement, they will choose a career that provides them more personal satisfaction than the one they previously held," he says.
Eby, an associate VP at the Southern New Hampshire University, sees two major reasons why online psychology degree programs are so popular.
"First, they provide a broad foundation for a variety of careers," he says. "Second, they afford students the opportunity to purse a degree while allowing time for work and family."