By Sarah Stevenson
Are you exploring your options for an undergraduate education, but aren't sure you can fit a traditional 4-year college degree into an already jam-packed schedule? The answer might be an accredited online bachelor degree.
Earning a bachelor's degree online means that a college education is right at your fingertips. Innovative technology such as video lectures, online chats, social networking and interactive assignments make the virtual classroom experience just as effective as traditional in-person education.
Not only that, online undergraduate programs are usually flexible enough to allow you to work at your own pace, completing classes as you're able to fit them into your schedule, which is a major advantage for those who are already working full time or who need to fit college classes around the needs of family or other commitments.
A Rewarding Professional Life
Many people can benefit from online education, particularly those looking to change career paths, improve their job prospects, or increase their annual income. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that additional levels of education directly result in higher earnings and lower unemployment.
An accredited online bachelor degree is the first step to a more intellectually and financially rewarding professional life. In 2013, bachelor's degree holders earned median annual salaries $20,000 higher on average than those with only a high school diploma or its equivalent. There are also increasing numbers of jobs available to workers who hold a 4-year degree, particularly in the fields of education, health care, and computers.
Best and Worst Specialties
Some areas of study are better suited to online degree programs than others. In specialties where an element of performance is required, such as theater or dance, or in fields that require a considerable amount of in-person training, like medicine, students will need to pursue most or even all of their education in a traditional degree program.
Common fields of study for the accredited online bachelor degree include bachelor of arts (BA) degrees in the humanities or social sciences; bachelor of science (BS) degrees in technical or scientific subjects, such as these:
- Information technology
Bachelor of business administration (BBA) or BA degrees in business-related fields such as finance or health care administration are available. Some of these fields may require in-person practical experience, but for the most part, these are programs whose coursework can largely be completed online.
How Do Accredited Programs Work?
Accredited online bachelor degree programs are certified by one or more Department of Education-approved agencies. These agencies determine whether an institution or program meets government criteria for educational rigor.
Generally, online bachelor's degree programs encompass the same curriculum requirements as traditional programs, with roughly 120 credits needed to finish the degree. However, the structure, time frame and media used to deliver individual courses may vary widely.
With respect to the time it takes to complete an online bachelor's degree, some programs take place on an accelerated schedule, while others follow a more traditional quarter or semester schedule. A bachelor's degree usually takes around four years to finish, possibly longer if you need to attend on a part-time basis.