Online graduate degrees: a legitimate option
Are you interested in earning a graduate degree online but are uncertain about how your degree will be perceived?
In the past, there was a stigma attached to degrees earned through distance learning. Today, many first-rate, brick-and-mortar institutions offer entire graduate degree programs online, employers are more accepting of graduate degrees earned online, and a significant number of students are enrolling in online courses and programs.
In fact, over 20 percent of higher education students took at least one online course in the fall of 2007.
Growth in online graduate degree programs
Online degree programs are flourishing for a number of reasons. First, technological advances make it possible for schools to offer effective programs.
Second, increased Internet access has opened a new market for higher education providers, so offering online programs helps colleges and universities remain competitive.
Third, colleges must keep up with students' demand for flexibility and convenience in their educational experience. This is especially true for adult working professionals who want to pursue a graduate school degree while maintaining a job.
Accreditation and an online graduate degree
Whether you enroll in a traditional or online graduate degree program, choosing an accredited school is crucial. Accreditation certifies that an institution of higher learning meets the standards of quality established by the accrediting agency.
Types of accreditation
Accrediting organizations fall into different categories including national, regional, and specialized. National accreditation is given to institutions of higher learning located throughout the United States. Traditionally, this type of accreditation has focused on particular types of schools, such as distance learning colleges.
Regional accreditation focuses solely on the schools within a specific region. Specialized accreditation focuses on specific fields of study and academic programs within a college or university.
Importance of accreditation
Accreditation ensures that you will receive an education that meets a particular standard of quality. It also increases your ability to transfer credits from one school to another.
In addition, only schools who have accreditation from a recognized accrediting agency qualify for federal financial aid programs.
Furthermore, your employer may not reimburse your tuition expenses if your school is not accredited.
Choose an online graduate degree program wisely
If you choose an accredited school that offers an excellent curriculum, expert faculty, and an online learning structure that meets your needs, then earning a graduate school degree online is more likely to be a rewarding experience.