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Over the past decade, online degree programs have grown in popularity, particularly in certain fields, Information Technology being one of those. Along with the growth in popularity has come an increased acceptance of online degrees in the workforce and many traditional universities developing online degree programs. Online schools are not for everyone. Some prefer and thrive better in a traditional classroom. For some, however, learning online is the best fit. Before you decide, ask yourself these three questions.

Who benefits from an online IT program?

One of the main benefits of an online IT program is in the schedule. There a typically no regular class times where you must be present, and so the program can easily work around other life commitments a student has. Whether it’s a student right out of high school that wants to attend classes in a more flexible manner, or a student returning to school after being in the workforce for a while, online classes are much easier to work into a busy schedule than traditional ones. It opens doors especially for those who are already in the workforce and are returning to school when they already have career and family commitments that would inhibit their ability to attend a traditional school.

Students who succeed in an online learning environment are those students who can self-motivate. You will not be attending class where a professor will be looking over your shoulder, reminding you to study. The initiative and responsibility rests with the student.

What does a typical online IT class look like?

First, there is a lot of reading. Much of what the class will offer is in writing. There may also be recorded or live video lectures and live question and answer sessions. Most likely there will be a discussion board, where students will be required to create discussion posts and reply to other student’s posts regarding a particular topic or question. Some assessments may be proctored, which will require you to locate a proctor in your area.

Much of your work, discussion and communication will be in writing, in the form of papers, emails and discussion posts. There will be a syllabus and a calendar that will outline the dates that projects and assignments are due. Typically a student can log in and complete assignments at any time of the day or night. There can be group work with other students in your virtual class, that can be organized through discussion posts or emails.

Which online degree programs should I choose?

Many traditional brick and mortar universities offer online degree programs. Schools such as the Colorado State University Global campus, Oregon Tech,    and University of Massachusetts offer online IT programs. These schools have a reputation for rigorous scholarship and prospective employers will recognize them.

If you choose something other than a typical university, you’ll want to do some additional research into the school. The first thing to check is if they are an accredited college; would credits earned at the school transfer to another institution? You’ll want to see what reputation they have in the industry. It may be to your detriment to get a degree with a school that no employer has heard of.

Getting an IT degree online might be a great solution for your busy life. Online degrees, especially those from well-known institutions are becoming widely accepted. Since IT deals directly with computer systems and networks, the online class structure fits well with the subject matter you will be covering while obtaining your IT degree. Just be certain to do your research on your prospective school and be honest with yourself about your ability to manage your time and stay motivated when you don’t have to actually attend a class.