Five Smart Online Degree Picks


Why drive all the way to a classroom when you can earn an online degree at home? Read on for five smart picks.

By Terence Loose    

Do you want to go back to school to earn a degree but aren't sure you have the time? Does work or family obligations make it hard to attend class at a specific place and time? You're not alone.

That's why more and more students are signing up for online programs that let them "attend" class from wherever and whenever it's convenient for them.

In fact, it's estimated that 35 to 40 percent of college students over the age of 25 will be attending school online by 2014, according to "Hot Programs and Hot Markets," a 2009 study by Eduventures, a higher education research and consulting firm.

Click to Find the Right Online Program Now.

Think logging in for class at nine p.m. or on a cloudy Saturday could work for you? Check out these five degrees you can earn from virtually anywhere, on any schedule.

Online Degree #1: Master's in Business Administration (MBA)

Whether you're interested in switching jobs or advancing in your current career, online MBA programs can offer you the flexibility to advance your education while still maintaining your personal and professional lives.

Perhaps that's why MBA students topped online master's programs with an estimated 117,000 enrollees, according to the Eduventures study. That made up a full 26 percent of all MBA students.

With an online MBA, you could sharpen your business skills by taking courses like finance, marketing, and management - whenever and wherever it's convenient for you.

Click to Find the Right Online MBA Program Now.

Potential Careers and Average Salaries*

  • Human Resources Manager: $108,600
  • General Operations Manager: $113,100
  • Marketing Manager: $122,720

Online Degree #2: Bachelor's in Education

Do you enjoy helping people understand certain concepts and topics? You could be a great fit for a bachelor’s degree in education, which is designed to develop skills needed to pursue teaching opportunities.

Best of all, an online bachelor's in education can be completed right in your home, which a record number of people are discovering. In their study, Eduventures traced a 22 percent increase in enrollment for this online degree from fall 2008 to fall 2009, making it one of the leaders of online options.

Education majors study how people learn and the best ways to teach, so you might encounter topics like educational psychology, school safety and health, and creating lesson plans and classroom activities. And who knows, you might even opt to teach online yourself someday.

Click to Find the Right Online Education Program Now.

Potential Careers and Average Salaries*

  • Kindergarten Teacher: $51,550
  • Elementary School Teacher: $54,330
  • Secondary School Teacher: $55,990

Online Degree #3: Bachelor's in Criminal Justice

You still watch "Cops" reruns, don't you? Come on, you can admit it. And yes, "NYPD Blue" was one of the best shows of all time. If you agree, a degree in criminal justice may be for you.

But don't worry, thanks to the abundant online options, you won't have to quit your current job to pursue your criminal justice education. In fact, according to the 2009 Eduventures study, of all the students enrolled in criminal justice bachelor's programs, 27 percent did it online.

Criminal justice is a fascinating major, too, with coursework on everything from the law and public administration to psychology and sociology. You'll likely study such topics as how to combat domestic terrorism, how to deal with drug abuse, what punishments are cruel and unusual, and more.

Oh, and you'll probably never see "Cops" or "NYPD Blue" the same way again.

Click to Find the Right Online Criminal Justice Program Now.

Potential Careers and Average Salaries*

  • Correctional Officer or Jailer: $42,780
  • Police or Sheriff Patrol Officer: $55,620
  • Transit or Railroad Police Officer: $55,930

Online Degree #4: Bachelor's in Psychology

If you've ever wondered why people do the things they do, studying psychology could help you better understand the inner workings of human behavior.

People who are fascinated with the complexities of human thought and behavior might love the coursework of a psychology degree, which concentrates on the way we act, feel, think, and learn.

With this flexible degree option, you could study how to help people with problems that range from emotional, to mental, to biological, and more, all from the comfort of your own home.

And earning a psychology degree online has never been more popular, with nearly 26,000 enrollees as of fall 2009, a growth rate of almost 20 percent from the year before, according to the Eduventures study.

Click to Find the Right Online Psychology Program Now.

Potential Careers and Average Salaries*

  • Probation Officer: $51,240
  • Correctional Treatment Specialist: $51,240
  • Social Worker: $52,270

Online Degree #5: Bachelor's in Computer and Information Technology

It's hard to imagine a degree more geared to online education than one in computer and information technology (commonly referred to as IT). Think about it: the second you click the mouse to log-in, you're practicing skills in your area of interest - before you even study.

When you do study, you'll concentrate on more than just those mysterious digital boxes we call computers. You'll likely focus on how information and computing systems support business, research, and communications, and might have the option to specialize in exciting areas such as web design, gaming, or digital communication.

This broad educational base could lead to a promising career in many fields, especially now that more and more companies depend on computers and technology.

Click to Find the Right Online Computer and IT Program Now.

Potential Careers and Average Salaries*

  • Computer Programmer: $74,900
  • Computer Systems Analyst: $81,250
  • Software Developer, Applications: $90,410

*All potential career and average salary information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor using 2010 salary data.

Next Article: Higher Education Goes High-Tech »

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