Major and Career Decision Guide

find online degrees

If you're thinking about going back to school and getting an online degree, the options can be overwhelming.

So you want to pursue an online psychology degree, but don't understand the difference between an MS in Psychology and a PhD in Psychology? Here's the breakdown.

To help you choose online education options that suit your goals, here's a handy career decision guide that compares online degree programs in five popular fields:

  • MS in Psychology vs. PhD in Psychology
  • MBA in Marketing vs. MBA in Finance
  • RN-to-BSN vs. RN-to-MSN
  • AS in Medical Billing and Coding vs. MBA in Health Care Administration
  • Legal Office Assistant vs. Paralegal

Master of Science in Psychology vs. PhD in Psychology

An MS in Psychology is a solid and practical step for those who wish to practice psychology, preceded by either an associate's or bachelor's degree in a similar field. Getting an MS in Psychology is typically a 2-year program that will help you focus on thinking critically about theory and research, while allowing you to conduct basic studies or applied research of your own.

During an advanced online psychology degree program, you will practice applying psychological concepts to a variety of situations and settings to train you for a career in the field of psychology. This degree will also prepare you to pursue a PhD in Psychology.

Pursing a PhD in Psychology provides students with challenging fieldwork based upon their specialization. In this online psychology degree program, you will complete a residency, which will put you face-to-face with patients, and be guided by a mentor through the challenging process of writing a dissertation - the culmination of years of study, thought and hard work. Once your PhD is completed, you will be qualified to practice or teach psychology at a higher level than with a master's degree.

MBA in Marketing vs. MBA in Finance

As things are ever-changing in the business world, pursuing an online MBA will allow you to hit the refresh button on your business skills, enabling you to learn new skills and about advances in technology, while working and interacting with others who have varied business backgrounds.

Students will qualify for federal financial aid programs if they pursue their online MBA degree from a college that has received accreditation from an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).

If you’re an ambitious person who has always been interested in learning the ins and outs of marketing, you might consider an online MBA in Marketing. After completing this 2-year program, you'll be familiar with consumer behavior, international marketing and market research, as well as core business principles vital to managing an organization. In addition, you'll be trained in areas such as negotiation and ethical leadership.

Pursuing an online MBA in Finance takes ambition in a whole new direction. After completing this 2-year degree, you will become adept in fields such as investment and portfolio management, corporate finance analysis, mergers, acquisitions, corporate restructuring, entrepreneurial finance and international financial management.

If that gets your pulse racing, brace yourself. You'll also perfect the art of interacting with executive managers while becoming a strong leader.

RN to BSN vs. RN to MSN

The RN-to-BSN online nursing degree is designed for RNs who have earned a nursing degree through an associate's degree or certification program. The BSN provides credits for skills that have already been earned on the job - like a retroactive degree. In addition, it helps develop business and management skills, while training nurses on new equipment and the latest technology and techniques.

Many employers prefer applicants that hold a BSN, and some employers require it. It takes approximately two years to earn this online degree. It is also a good fit for ambitious nurses who are reaching for more responsibility or better compensation at work.

The RN-to-MSN online nursing degree is roughly a 2-year online program that gives nurses the chance to specialize in a specific area such as advanced clinical research or teaching. Most MSN programs require a BSN degree as a prerequisite. Therefore, this degree is for ambitious nurses who have long-term goals within their field.

Associate's in Medical Billing and Coding vs. MBA in Health Care Administration

Earning an online AS in Medical Billing and Coding will prepare you for an entry-level position as a medical information coder. If your career goal is to have a secure job that pays well, becoming a medical biller or medical coder is a good choice.

Here's the nitty-gritty: After finishing the average 2-year online program, you will be able to use coding systems to classify medical data, use medical management software and industry-standard word processing software, and follow uniform billing practices.

How does that compare to earning an online MBA in Health Care Administration? Well, there are a few more hoops to jump through. First you’ll need to have earned an undergraduate degree with a decent GPA before you can pursue an online MBA degree. After that, a 2-year MBA in Health Care Administration will train you to multi-task; you'll become a leader in the health care community with a strong foundation in the economic, legal, regulatory, managerial, political, historical, social and business aspects of the health care industry. 

Associate's in Legal Office Assisting vs. Associate's in Paralegal

Legal office assistants are acquainted enough with legal procedures and terminology to provide clerical and administrative assistance to attorneys and paralegals. They may research legal issues and precedents, organize trial notebooks, set up client meetings and assist with interviews. Legal office assistants must execute day-to-day secretarial duties and have fewer highly skilled duties than paralegals.

Paralegals, however, are more equipped to help lawyers prepare for trials and hearings. This is a career for ambitious people interested in understanding the mechanisms of the legal profession. Attaining an online associate's degree in paralegal studies takes roughly two years to complete. This career often precludes a degree in law.

Paralegals work arm in arm with lawyers by drafting legal documents for litigation and other purposes, conducting research to highlight preceding court decisions, and gathering other relevant materials for cases.