Smart Online Degrees You Could Earn At Home

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Don't let your busy schedule hold you back from pursuing one of these smart online degrees.

By Amy Chang

You come home from a busy day at work after battling traffic, and still have to make dinner for the family. And yet, you wish you could carve out some time to further your education and get a better job. Sound familiar?

Good news: You can work toward your goals during your spare time - all from the comfort of your home - with an online degree program.

Sound too good to be true? It's not. In fact, more than 46 percent of online students say their primary motivation for earning a degree is to advance in their career, according to a 2012 study by Aslanian Market Research, a leading marketing information and technology services firm dedicated to helping higher education institutions find, enroll, and retain students.

Still not convinced this is the intelligent way to go? Dani Babb, an online professor and author of "The Adult Student," can name other advantages of online study, including "flexibility, being able to keep your job while you go to school, and extensive use of the Internet and computing systems, which is a big benefit for employers."

Of course, online education is not for everyone; it takes self-discipline, hard work, and a lot of perseverance.

But if you think earning a degree online might be the right path for you, consider diving into one of these six smart online programs.

Online Degree #1: Accounting

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Are you good with numbers and have an interest in handling finances? An online bachelor's degree in accounting could put you on the path to financial recordkeeping.

Smart Factors: Accounting is a smart degree to pursue online because it gives students a great deal of independence with regard to how and when they want to complete their work.

"Accounting degrees online allow students to work at their own pace and to really take the time to understand the software they will be using in their own practices," says Babb. "They will first learn the math fundamentals, and then the specific work for accounting and business courses."

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Accounting Program.

What You Might Study: Typical courses you could see in an accounting program include business law, auditing, tax accounting, and cost accounting, says the College Board, a non-profit organization that promotes educational excellence.

Career Options*:

  • Accountant
  • Auditor

Online Degree #2: Computer Science

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Want to shift careers into a computer-related field? An online bachelor's in computer science could be a good way to learn skills for your next job - while hanging on to your current one.

Smart Factors: Earning a computer science degree online will give you the ability to integrate computers and technology into all of your studies. With today's heavy use of computers, this program mimics the real world business environment, says Babb.

"With today's technology we create lab simulators and use programming tools that allow students to have similar access as if they were in a traditional school with the ability and benefit of working full time at the same time," Babb says.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Computer Science Program.

What You Might Study: As a computer science major, you could take courses like software engineering, computer programming, artificial intelligence, and computer system organization, says the College Board.

Career Options*:

  • Software developer
  • Computer programmer

Online Degree #3: Graphic Design

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Your high school art teacher always said you had talent. Why not finally do something with it? You could earn an online bachelor's degree in graphic design without ever leaving your home.

Smart Factors: With much of the work done on computers, pursuing a graphic design degree online might be good preparation for the profession, notes Babb.

"For graphic design, it's a very useful skill to ask a customer a question in writing, try to get feedback and then create something from that written feedback, all things that you could learn in this online program," says Babb.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Graphic Design Program.

What You Might Study: Some typical courses you might take in a graphic design degree program could include Photoshop for designers, typography, and graphic design studio, says the College Board.

Career Options*:

  • Graphic designer

Online Degree #4: Communications

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Do you like to write and have an interest in radio, television, or advertising? Then perhaps you should build on those interests by working towards a bachelor's degree in communications online.

Smart Factors: Because publishing any kind of writing today means using the Internet as the vehicle of circulation, earning a communications degree through the Internet could offer unexpected benefits.

"Communications students in an online program offer a huge benefit to employers - experience writing for an online audience," says Babb. "Online communications are vital, especially with the in-demand need for social media, and online students bring this benefit to their employers with an online degree."

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Communications Program.

What You Might Study: According to the College Board, pursuing a degree in mass communications might have you studying courses like global perspectives in media, mass media and society, and media law and ethics.

Career Options*:

  • Public relations specialist
  • Editor

Online Degree #5: Psychology

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Want to know how the mind works and possibly help others deal with emotional problems? An online bachelor's degree in psychology could put you on that path.

Smart Factors: One huge advantage of earning this degree online is the flexibility to work at your own pace.

There are many core curriculum programs such as psychology, statistics, and principles of psychological research that allow students to take all of the needed coursework for their degree and not give up their job in the meantime, notes Babb.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Psychology Program.

What You Might Study: As a student majoring in psychology, common courses in your program could include general psychology, personality, perception and sensation, and neuroscience, says the College Board.

Career Options*:

  • Social worker

Online Degree #6: Business Administration

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Do you have an interest in the corporate world and want to refine your natural business savvy? An online bachelor's degree in business administration could help.

Smart Factors: Because many business deals and transactions take place online today, earning a bachelor's in business administration online puts the student at a huge advantage, notes Babb.

"Students will study each functional area (marketing, sales, finance, human resources, etc.) and will learn to communicate to and within each of those business units in an online setting," says Babb.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Business Administration Program.

What You Might Study: While enrolled in an online business administration program, you might take courses like business law, management finance, principles of marketing, and economics, says the College Board.

Career Options*:

  • Financial analyst
  • Human resources manager

* All career options from the Department of Labor determined by associated degree, which might be common, required, or preferred by employers.

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