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Distance Education University Degrees and Career Education

Online undergraduate and graduate degree programs can help prepare students for career advancement or career changes. Online degrees are available at many universities and colleges throughout the country.

It seems at times that almost any degree you want you can achieve online through distance education. Many universities offer a lot of their curriculum through the Internet and more and more are adding their degree programs all the time.

Distance Career Education Options

Many universities and colleges offer distance education degree programs geared towards working professionals who want to enhance their careers without interrupting them. In these programs, students can complete degree requirements online without taking time off from their jobs. Many online undergraduate and graduate degrees can be earned completely online, while others require attending some on-campus group sessions, classes, orientations or tests. Students communicate with instructors by e-mail, videoconferencing and telephone.

Associate's Degrees

Online associate's degree programs typically focus on specific professions and prepare students for entry-level positions. Students can earn online associate's degrees in one to two years. For those needing to keep an eye on their budgets, there are hundreds of online community colleges offering associate degrees to get started on a career or classes toward a bachelor's degree. Distance education associate's degree programs include:

  • Dental hygienist technology
  • Paralegal studies
  • Diagnostic medical sonography
  • Graphic design
  • Information technology
  • Medical assistant

Bachelor's Degrees

Online bachelor's degree programs offer career education in several areas, including business, nursing, accounting and criminal justice. Adult students who have enough undergraduate credits can find accelerated online programs that can be completed in about two years or less. These programs can prepare students for a range of possible jobs or specific positions. For example, an employee who has completed a degree in business may work in positions such as:

  • Sales
  • Management
  • Accounting
  • Operations
  • Entrepreneurship

Master's Degrees

Many working professionals with bachelor's degrees can earn online master's degrees to improve their opportunities for advancement and to acquire additional knowledge and skills. For example, public school teachers pursue distance education master's degrees in areas such as instructional design and education administration to earn a higher salary and to qualify for administrative posts. Other online master's degree fields include:

  • Business
  • Health administration
  • Psychology

Doctoral Degrees

Students who want to become university professors and researchers may want to earn online doctoral degrees. These programs, though rare, are convenient for those who want to earn a doctorate in an academic discipline that isn't offered by a local university or college. Popular Ph.D. distance education programs include:

  • Engineering
  • Psychology
  • Law

The requirements for online Ph.D. programs are similar to those of traditional doctoral programs, and include a dissertation, exams and a specific number of course credits. These programs may require face-to-face meetings with professors.

Distance Education Tuition

A positive effect of eLearning is that it comes with discounted tuition and fees versus living on campus. Students looking at the economics of paying for college will find online community colleges cheaper to start, while four year institutions will cost more and graduate schools even more. East Mississippi Community College, for example, charges $1,200 per semester for full time (12+ hours) in-state students. On the other hand, Penn State's online tuition for a full time student is a flat rate of $6,587 per semester. Arizona State's online graduate program tuition is between $492 and $1,132 per credit hour, while some of their programs have specific costs like the MEd in Educational Leadership which is at $565 per hour.

In this day and age where travel may be limited, getting a degree isn't impossible thanks to the internet. Distance education from the comfort of one's home has become as common as living on campus to acquire that bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree.


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