There was a time when it was acceptable to say no to college and look for a job straight out of high school; then came the time when it was imperative to hold at least one degree in the discipline of your choice; and now is the time when a master’s degree is more the norm than the anomaly. Some people choose to go to grad school fresh from their undergraduate degree while others prefer to test out the job market before venturing into the realm of master’s degrees. It’s the latter kind who prefer to study online because of the various advantages that this form of education offers, not the least of which is the fact that they don’t have to stop working in order to continue learning.
There’s no doubting the fact that online education provides a host of advantages. However, there are certain precautions you must take before you jump right in and settle for the first program you find from any random school. So if you’re considering an online master’s degree as a way to step up the career ladder or as a way to cross a personal milestone, here’s what you need to look for before choosing a school and degree that best fit your needs:
- Does it have the right kind of accreditation? Accreditation is important for three reasons – first, it validates the acceptability and credibility of your degree and provides you with the reassurance that your school is reputable and your degree worthwhile; second, it paves the way for acceptance from employers who are more open to sponsoring your education and/or promoting you at work when your school is accredited; and third, accreditation allows you to apply for and receive scholarships and grants. So choose an online school that is regionally accredited by one of the six accrediting agencies or settle for one that is accredited by the Distance Education Training Council (DETC) although many employers do not accept degrees certified by the DETC and many schools don’t transfer credits earned here. If you want to study MBA online, choose a school that’s accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) – some organizations accept MBAs only when they’re certified by the AACSB.
- Will it be accepted by your employer and/or in your field of work? Most people choose to do an online master’s degree to further their careers or secure a higher salary. So before you choose a degree and school, check their acceptability with your employer, current or perspective. If they refuse to acknowledge its worth after you’ve completed your degree, all the time, effort and money you put into earning it becomes worthless. Your masters must be of some use, professionally or personally.
- Does it involve on-campus time? Some online master’s degrees necessitate that you spend some time on campus, either at the end or during the course of your program. Check to see if the schedule is feasible with your work and personal commitments and if you’re ready to travel in order to meet these requirements. This may involve more time, effort and expense on your part, so be prepared.
- Does it make more sense to choose a school in-state or out-of-state? You may be tempted to study at an out-of-state college because it’s an online degree and does not make much of a difference, but there may be additional tuition costs to this decision. Also, if you need to spend some time on campus as part of your course requirements, you could end up incurring more expensive than you planned for.
- What qualifications do you need? Each school and/or degree has their own requirements – some may ask for a particular undergraduate degree, others may insist on a pre-qualifying exam like the GRE or MAT, and yet others could insist on a certain GPA or score on your MAT or GRE. So check to see if you’re eligible before you waste your time applying to online schools. Also, if you’ve already taken your GRE or MAT, your scores are valid for only five years, so if more time has elapsed, you may need to take them again.
This guest post is contributed by Mark Davies, he writes on the topic of Masters Degree Online. He welcomes your comments here or at his email id: markdavies247<@>gmail<.>com.