Online University BA Degree Program Overviews

Get info about online Bachelor of Arts programs. Read about program requirements and course topics, as well as program length and residency requirements.

Essential Information

Online Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) programs are ideal for students with busy schedules that preclude them from attending courses on-site, as online courses can often be taken at the location and pace of the student's choosing. Online B.A. programs may be offered in psychology, sociology, English, foreign languages, history, culture and philosophy. While some programs allow students to complete the degree entirely online, some require residency periods.

Admissions are often identical to a university's on-site programs; students applying to a school's online program do not need to submit any additional materials. They may, however, need to ensure that they are in compliance with the school's technical requirements. For instance, they must ensure that their computers are equipped with speakers and a microphone, and they need to own a headset. Specific computer software may also be required, depending on the course. It is also important to note that online students generally pay more money per credit hour than on-campus students.

Online Bachelor of Arts Program

Many universities offer accredited Bachelor of Arts programs online in a variety of fields, including the liberal arts, social sciences and humanities. Some programs are fully online, while others have in-person requirements.

Length and Credit Breakdown

B.A. programs typically require completion of 120 credits, which are composed of electives, general education and major courses. Approximately 40-50 credits make up the general education foundation, which typically includes courses in a foreign language, composition, history, economics, science, mathematics and computers. Bachelor of Arts programs generally last four years -- just like an on-campus bachelor's degree program -- but may be accelerated, depending on the institution.

Residency and Distance Learning Requirements

A fully online university may require a residency, for which students need to be on the actual campus for a series of days (usually 1-2 weeks) to obtain introductory information and acquaint themselves with their professors and peers. The rest of the B.A. program is typically conducted online through a course management system, e-mail, discussion boards and scheduled chats.

Students wishing to take an online program first and foremost need a computer with access to the internet, but there are several other important technical considerations. In order to ensure that students' computers will be compatible with course management systems, programs also require that computers have an up-to-date operating system and internet browser.

Some majors use software that is not compatible with all operating systems, and as such they might place restrictions on the type of computer a student can have. For example, most engineering software only works on computers that use Windows, so some engineering programs do not allow students to use Mac computers. Other requirements include a microphone and speakers, working sound card, and adequate memory space.

To summarize, it is possible to earn an online BA in a wide range of different fields. Unlike their on-campus counterparts, students in these programs typically watch lectures, complete assignments and participate in discussions within a virtual classroom.

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