How I Earned a Second Bachelor's Degree Online

alternative credit

To find her dream job, this liberal studies major decided to pursue a second bachelor's degree online and turn an obsession with cybersecurity into her next career path.

My Second Bachelor's Degree

Back when I was earning my first bachelor's degree and undecided on a career path, the common wisdom was to just pick one—a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS)— and narrow your area of focus in a master's degree program. So, I got a BA in Liberal Studies, became a well-rounded thinker, and found entry-level employment in a nice office. The thing was, I didn't wind up pursuing a master's degree. Instead, I fell in love with another field of study utterly unrelated to my original college major: I wanted to go to work to combat cyber crime.

I was overjoyed to discover that one could earn a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity. I was nervous, however, about how I would manage to go back to school, pay for a second bachelor's degree, and fit a graduate program into my already full life. I had plenty of questions, too, about starting over. Would any of my previous credits count? Could I get credit for any of the professional development I'd done for my job?

Keyboard Mortarboard

The Online Advantage

I love the Internet, which is one reason why I wanted to work to protect it. I knew I wanted to find an accredited school that offered my desired degree program and delivered it online. The course of study needed to be adaptable to my schedule. With a full-time job and a family, I had no time for a commute, or rigid class times. I found helpful information through several online resources, including the American Council of Education and Study.com.

My research gave me plenty of options and lots of good advice. Most schools advise against a earning a second bachelor's degree, unless you were truly switching gears, which I was. Most, if not all, postsecondary schools offer counseling, which is necessary to assess credit requirements. The number of credits required for a second bachelor's degree varies from school to school, as does the types of transfer credits accepted.

Donald Cucuzzella of Thomas Edison State University says a second bachelor's degree typically requires a minimum of 24 additional credits. Additional standard requirements include:

  • A first bachelor's degree from an accredited school
  • An acceptable GPA
  • 'Good standing' status from the school that bestowed your first degree

Three Graduates

Non-Traditional Credit

In a world-changing discovery, I learned that I could take ACE CREDIT courses online that were transferable toward my second bachelor's degree program. The American Council of Education evaluates and approves credit classes earned through alternative sources. I saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars going this route, tested out of several of the basic courses I needed, and had more money to concentrate on my primary focus.

The National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS) approves certain non-college programs for college credit, helping students such as myself save time and money by virtue of our experience. I had taken a couple of IT-related professional development courses, which were accepted by my chosen institution for credit. According to Thomas Edison State University, a key to getting every last credit that's coming your way is to make sure your chosen college or university receives every transcript in your education history, along with proof of completion of any professional badges or certificates.

Smiling Businesswoman

Fast Track to Bachelor's Degree Number Two

With the help of the counseling office from the school of my choice, I was able to dot my i's and cross my t's and streamline the process of earning a second bachelor's degree in cybersecurity. Getting credit for my professional development, as well as for some well-chosen ACE CREDIT classes, minimized the time and cash I had to devote toward my goal. My online program synchronized perfectly with my busy life, as I could study on my own schedule. A second bachelor's degree may not be the right choice for everyone, but for me, it cleared the way to a new and deeply satisfying career.

By Irene Cooper
February 2017
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