More and more colleges and universities are offering online graduate programs to make it more convenient for students to take their classes and earn their degree online. Online graduate schools make it more convenient for students to earn their degrees without ever having to step foot on a college campus. With less free time and the convenience of earning graduate degrees online, more and more students are turning to an alternative to the traditional on-campus degree programs. They are finding this alternative in online programs.
Students who wish to attend graduate school online will need to have access to a computer that is hooked up to the Internet. Online programs allow students to interact with their teachers in an online format either by email, online discussion groups or chat rooms. Students either receive their assignments via email or in an online forum that the teacher sets up for students to access their assignments. Online graduate programs are great for students who are self-motivated and do not need the interaction with professors and peers to get through their classes. Some online programs have online “classes” where students meet online at a specified time in a virtual classroom. Other online programs allow students to work at their own pace, at least to some degree. Once an assignment has been completed, students can move on to the next assignment. Online graduate programs are flexible so that students can sign-on to their computers at a time that is convenient for them.
Just like when you are choosing an on-campus graduate program, you should look for certain things in an online graduate programs. Here are 10 things that you should consider when choosing an online graduate program
1. Accreditation. Accreditation means that the school has been granted credit or recognition that it maintains suitable standards. Accreditation is a credit that is acknowledged by educational institutions around the country.
2. Proven Online Success. Some online degree programs have technology problems or issues with their curriculum format. Talk with other students that have earned their degree online and make sure that there weren’t any major flaws with the school’s way of conducting their online program.
3. Technology & Support. Be sure that the online program has technical support available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in case you need them when you are online. Inquire as to what type of technology your computer needs to be able to process so that you can make sure you have enough memory and the appropriate Internet connection (DSL, Broadband, etc.). Many online universities are starting to use technology like video streaming, whiteboard, and video conferencing. If you are not equipped for this type of technology then you may need to seek classes that are conducted via other technologies, such as e-mail, bulletin boards, and websites.
4.Online only. Some online programs require their students to attend campus classes so many times per year, or supplement your online program with some instruction items via regular mail, conference calls, or DVDs. If you are looking for an online program be sure that the program being offered is completed 100% online.
5. Online Faculty. Just like it takes a certain kind of person to be a good teacher, it also takes a special kind of teacher to be an online instructor. Teaching online is different than teaching in person. It is important to make sure that the instructors have received the appropriate training on facilitating a productive online classroom.
6. Financial Aid. Earning your college degree online doesn’t tend to cost any more or any less than campus programs. If you are applying for financial aid, grants, or loans, be sure that the funds can be applied to an online program. Also, if your company is providing you with tuition reimbursement, be sure to inquire as to whether online programs qualify.
7. Advisor. You will need an advisor for online programs to help make sure you are scheduling your classes to coordinate with your graduation date. Having someone to help you online with this process can save you confusion, wasted effort, and a delay in your graduation date.
8. Length of Program. Request a copy of the curriculum and timeline for graduation. Online degree programs for part-time students shouldn’t take you any longer than 2 to 3 years to complete. Check the curriculum and timeline to be sure that the program fits a schedule that will allow you to graduate in this time frame.
9. Satisfied Graduates. Seek information on graduates of the online program to make sure that the program has satisfied graduates. See if you can find online if they list some of the Alumni from the online program and where they are working now, as well as what achievements they have been able to accomplish.
10. Large Enrollments. Find out how many students have successfully completed the program. A large number of successful graduates tends to indicate that it is a good program that meets or exceeds the satisfaction of their students.
Today, online education can offer convenience, flexibility, and save time in pursuit of your college degree. Keep this checklist in mind as you investigate the various online graduate programs.