Bachelor's degrees were once the mainstay of traditional college life at a brick and mortar school for students fresh out of high school, but now this degree can be completed online from colleges and universities across the nation or the globe. Students generally finish the 120 to 128 credit hours needed for a bachelor's degree in anywhere from 4 to 6 years. The extended timeframe can be beneficial to students attending online college part -time while working full time jobs and caring for families.
Bachelor's degrees consist of concentrated work in a major, such as psychology, business or biology. Many degrees offer a broad range of courses designed to give the students a solid foundation of knowledge outside their majors, in English, history, math and social sciences, while other degrees consist of intensive study in a particular field without the liberal arts curriculum. The most popular four - year bachelor's degrees are the Bachelor of Arts (B.A) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Students getting a B.A. have fields of study coming from the liberal arts or fine arts areas, while those earning a B.S. master the fields of the sciences, math, agriculture and engineering.
Students studying online come from all walks of life and all age groups. While the traditional online student used to be in their 30's, working full time with a family, the age of many students is dropping as e-learning increases in popularity. Approximately 57 percent of undergraduate online bachelor degrees students from 1999-2000 were 23 years old or younger, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, Education Statistics Quarterly, 2004.
As an adult, returning to school can be problematic in many ways. Work commitments, financial responsibilities, and family time needs, can all impact an adult's ability to go back and finish the degree they started or go to post secondary schools for the first time at a traditional university or college. Distance learning, online education or e-learning makes earning a bachelors degree easy. Online colleges often teach using "asynchronous" learning, meaning the student sets the schedule, pace and learning place, leaving them open to learn when it's convenient, free from set classrooms and meeting times and dates.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, online enrollment is growing at over 10 times the projected growth rate for the general post-secondary student population. The overall online enrollment grew to 2.35 million in 2004, up 18.2% from the 1.98 million enrolled in 2003.
Why get a Bachelor's degree?
According to the US Census Bureau, over an adult's lifetime, high school graduates will earn on average $1.2 million; Associate's degree holders $1.6 million and those holding bachelor's degrees will earn about $2.1 million! Earning a bachelor's degree will almost double the money you would make if you only held a high school diploma!
Advantages to Pursuing a Bachelor's Degree Online
- Scheduling is flexible and adjustable to individual learning abilities
- Most programs offer accelerated learning, where bachelors degrees can be attained in 2 years or less, with life experience and previous college credits-imagine saving two years of study time!!
- Online programs are tailored to adult learners, who are more motivated and disciplined to meet their specific goals because they want to, not because they have to---learn for your personal and professional goals!
- Adult learners have a larger capacity to learn independently, with well developed skills in finding and assembling information
- Online bachelors degrees can be earned faster and cheaper than at traditional schools
- Online education programs utilize the latest technology in learning creatively, combining online chats, webinars, teleconferences and video downloads to make learning fun and appealing on an adult level
- Online universities now offer bachelor degrees recognized as top notch the world over
- Online learners can easily work full time while going to school full time
- Most online colleges and universities offer the same quality degree programs online as they do in traditional on-campus programs.
- Online degrees allow you to access material 24-7, eliminating the stress from getting to class on time in rush hour traffic or missing school due to scheduling problems or illness
- Students can study at any online university they want without having to relocate
- Bachelor degrees diplomas obtained online look the same as diplomas attained in traditional schools
Types of Online Universities and Colleges
There are a variety of types of schools that offer bachelors degree programs online.
These schools are financed privately and run independent of government agencies. They offer many degree options. Tuition at private schools is more than public universities because they receive no public funding toward costs. However, students with financial need who attend accredited private schools are typically eligible for federal and other public grants and loans. Programs may offer smaller class sizes and more individual education counseling then public schools. Verify that the school is properly accredited to make sure your degree will be accepted by employers or for transfer of credits to another college or university. Top online private schools are University of Phoenix, Walden University, and Kaplan University.
These schools are governed by the state governments the college resides in and are funded by public monies. They are also called state colleges or state universities and have the word state in their name, such as The State University of New York at Buffalo. Tuition is typically much lower than private schools for student residents of the state the school is in. Public universities offer bachelors and often masters and doctoral degrees as well. Out of state students and international students generally pay a higher tuition rate.
Liberal arts colleges that offer bachelor degree programs
Bachelor degrees from a liberal arts school are broad-based rather than highly focused education programs.
Institutes of technology that offer bachelor degree programs
Institute of technology bachelor's degree programs and courses are found primarily in the engineering and science fields. They offer coursework focused in the major instead of the broad-based learning experience found in liberal arts schools. Institutes of technology are known for their graduate programs.
Religiously affiliated universities
Religious institutions of learning were founded primarily by Christian organizations. Most religious institutions will admit students from all faiths, with only some requiring attendance at religious services. Education programs are liberal arts based and privately funded.
Specialized vocational schools
Specialized vocational school have bachelor's degree in vocational fields such as fashion, acting or art. One example of a school with specialized vocational programs is Capella University, which offers programs in the ever-changing information technology industry, with in demand degrees in graphic design or multimedia. DeVry University also offers specialized degrees, with a bachelor's degree in Electronics Engineering Technology (EET) that students can earn in just 3 years!
Factors to consider when choosing your online university and college
- Accreditation Begin your search by validating the accreditation of the university or college you are interested in. Accreditation verifies that the programs meet the minimum education standards guidelines from the organizations granted accreditation authority by the US Department of Education. Researching this will guarantee that your degree will be recognized by future employers or other universities should you decide to transfer schools. Many degree-granting diploma mills exist which issue false degrees that would not make it past most employer's background checks.
- Minimum Entrance Requirements Entrance requirements can vary from school to school, from a G.E.D. or high school diploma, to work experience to previous completion of some college courses. Find out what the minimum requirements are for the program you are considering to make sure you can satisfy the minimums.
- Flexibility of class schedules Check to see how the classes you are taking for your chosen degree are offered, whether asynchronous (study by downloading material when you want) or synchronous (log on to attend the class at a certain time.) If there is a mixture of both, can you adapt your schedule to meet the log-in time of the synchronous classes?
The following accrediting associations are recognized by the USDE and CHEA and accredit entire institutions (as opposed to individual programs) in the United States.
- Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA), Commission on Higher Education
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE)
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Technical and Career Institutions (NEASC-CTCI)
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission (NCA-HLC)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), Commission on Colleges
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (WASC-ACCJC)
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (WASC-ACSCU)