Do you want to expand your career advancement opportunities, learn a new vocation or extend your educational levels but you already graduated from college? Did you leave the learning environment for a great job after getting your degree, but find you need to get more education to get promoted? Have you found a great program you want to learn but it's not offered at your local college at the master's level? Are you self-motivated and like to work at your own pace? Then an online master's degree may be for you!
A master's degree is a post-baccalaureate or graduate degree is awarded to students who have completed one to three years of concentrated learning in a field of knowledge. A master's level education can mean entry into a new field or occupation, a promotion or simply personal enrichment and achievement. The 2000 U.S. Census showcased the fact that almost 9% of the population now holds a master's or professional degree-up from a scant 3% just twenty years ago. The increase in online graduate degrees, affording flexibility and portability in study, has fueled this increase and expanded the educational and career advancement opportunities accordingly.
Today's students pursuing a Master's degree often are more and more often coming from the ranks of the mid-career professionals with families. Back in the 1970's, graduate students were almost exclusively from the population of just graduated students, who went on to study for a Master's degree right after their bachelor's degree. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES 1996 and 2006), the majority of students are still age 30 and younger while a rapidly growing number are from the 40 plus age group. From 1995-2005, post-baccalaureate students age 40 and older at U.S. colleges and universities grew by 27%. Over the next 2 decades this trend is predicted to continue as the growth in the population over age 40 continues to surpass the growth in citizen's age 24 or less. Most of these 'working adult' students have real-world work experience and one third are also raising children.
With this shift in the age of the graduate student population, many postsecondary institutions have adapted their programs to meet the needs of the new older students while still being attractive to the under 30 crowd. Online Master's degrees curriculums offer a variety of programs to fulfill the needs of the diverse populations and ages of its students.
A master's degree involves a program of study from 30 to 60 credit hours, resulting usually in a Master of Arts, Master of Science or Master of Business Arts degree. These basic degrees may be course-based, or research-based, or more typically involve a combination of the two approaches. A Master's thesis may or may not be required, depending on the program. Some degrees involve written or oral comprehensive exams instead, or course completion projects in each subject.
According to the Council of Graduate Schools, completion of the one or two year programs carries a hefty price tag - averaging $22,000 at public universities and $34,100 at private schools, but the payoff is huge.:
The U.S. Census Bureau finds that workers holding a graduate or professional degree in 2006 earned on average $80,000, compared to $55,000 for workers with a bachelor's degree only.
Advantages of Online Master's Degrees
Selecting an online master's degree program
There are many factors to consider when selecting your online master's degree school:
Reputation - Research the different schools online by the type of program you have decided is your goal. Check in the industry you want to work for acceptability and typical educational backgrounds. Beware of diploma mills, programs that let anyone attend, that guarantee a degree for life experience or that have you finish your degree in only one semester-acquiring these types of degrees are not only a waste of money, they also damage your reputation for getting one.
Resources for Online Master's Degrees: