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The Importance of Online College Accreditation

importanceThe cost of a college education has skyrocketed in the past 20 years and there is no end in sight. The increasing cost to earn a degree has placed a higher education out of the reach for many. Additionally, today’s students often find themselves struggling with the busy pace of life as they manage work responsibilities and family obligations in addition to their pursuit of a degree. This has led thousands of students to turn to online options to earn a degree. These classes are more affordable and offer the convenience of learning from home.

But with this new wave of earning a degree come problems. Not every online degree is equal and it is imperative that a student understand the importance of earning an online degree from an accredited institution.

Accreditation ensures that the course of study and the degree a student earns will be recognized as an achievement that is bestowed on the student from a quality institution. Accreditation is used to maintain standards of online colleges and universities. Accreditation standards give a student peace of mind that the education they are paying for will result in the best opportunity to find a job upon graduation. Most employers look to see if the job applicant has earned a degree from an accredited online college or program. Many employers will not even consider an applicant who has a degree from a nonaccredited college.

National (Department of Education, for instance) and regional agencies oversee accreditation of online colleges and universities. These agencies implement criteria that evaluate the quality of courses and the institution itself. Accreditation validates your degree.

The Differences of Non-Accredited Courses, Programs, and Degrees

An online college or university might not be accredited for a number of reasons. A new institution might not yet have attained accreditation. Other nonaccredited institutions might have financial difficulties, which have cost them the all-important accreditation designation. Institutions that base course work on religious teachings often choose not to be accredited as they see the accreditation process as government intervention. Online colleges and universities are not recognized by most accrediting entities and organizations generally offer course work and degrees are not based on proper academic assessment. Courses taken and degrees earned from nonaccredited schools often are not valid. If your degree is earned at an online school that does not have accreditation, chances of landing that dream job could be endangered.

Another important factor students need to consider when taking courses from a nonaccredited online school is the potential to earn and receive scholarships and government grants. Students who enroll in online classes from nonaccredited colleges will not be able to obtain federal or state financial aid. These types of classes also can prevent the student from being eligible from receiving some scholarships and grants.

Students considering taking online classes from a nonaccredited college need to be aware of diploma mills. These are online businesses that build a website to give the appearance that they are legitimate institutions, offering legitimate courses and degrees. Some of these diploma mills might claim to be accredited and model their websites on actual accrediting agencies to convince potential students that they are earning a degree that has value.

With all the negativity surrounding nonaccredited online colleges and universities, one might wonder why anyone would enroll in such classes. For some jobs that do not require a college degree or high-school diploma, a degree from a nonaccredited institution might be sufficient to be hired. But actual experience might be more desirable than this type of degree.

Students should consider taking online courses from an accredited institution. Chances of earning a useful education are better, which in turn results in a higher probability of landing a job afterward.

Top 15 Accredited Schools Offering Online Bachelor Degrees

top-online-bachelorsThe advantages to earning a bachelor degree are seemingly endless which is why many students elect to begin their college studies by pursuing a four year degree. Attending college for advanced learning opportunities and expanded experience not only enhance a student’s academics but their future professions and salaries as well. In fact, studies from Georgetown University have proven students that achieve a bachelor’s degree earn 84 percent more than those with only a high school diploma.   Plus bachelor degree holders generally have half the unemployment than their nondegree holding counterparts.

The benefits of completing a bachelor degree inarguably yield higher job satisfaction, reduced stress, better healthcare coverage, and stronger job stability.  Which is why many educational institutions offer degrees at this level and beyond.  The added factors of advancing technology and increased interest in alternative learning formats has led to a sharp increase in online degree programs.  In the past decade, online bachelor degree programs have nearly doubled and  more than 3.5 million students are now realizing the advantages of a college education at their own pace, without uprooting their careers or family lives.

However, just like with conventional college degree programs, not all online colleges are created equal. When choosing an online bachelor’s degree program, it is essential that students ensure that the program has been properly accredited.  Accreditation guarantees that the college upholds the highest standards for education, so that the degree will be recognized by other academic institutions, the federal government for financial aid, and future employers.  The following schools have been chosen as the Top 15 Accredited Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in the United States for being the best of the best in terms of academic excellence, accreditation, affordability, reputation, ranking, awards, faculty credentials, student support services, and diversity of degrees offered.

1. Penn State Online

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In 1998, Penn State also became one of the first major accredited universities with online distance education courses. Not only is Penn State ranked as the eighth best public university in the country and the 16th best online bachelor’s program, it was named as the number one institution for producing the best-prepared graduates by The Wall Street Journal. Penn State offers more than 90 in-demand degree programs, accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Students who take less than 12 credits per semester must pay $518 per credit, while those taking 12 or more will be charged a flat tuition rate of $6,353 a semester. As a member of the Penn State World Campus, online students are granted the exclusive chance to join the largest alumni association in the world, with more than 169,000 members.

To learn more about Penn State Online’s Bachelor programs, go here.

2. UMass Online

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The University of Massachusetts President and Board of Trustees first created UMass Online in 2001 to offer educational programs via interactive, virtual learning environments. Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, UMass is currently ranked as the 40th best public university in the nation. With more than 100 undergraduate degree programs and 1,500 courses available online, students are able to receive the same high-quality education as those on-campus from anywhere with Internet access. UMass Online also provides a unique program called University without Walls (UWW) for students who want to complete a degree through a blend of online and on-campus courses. Undergraduate courses vary according to the type of course, but they usually range from $125 to $1980.

To learn more about UMass Online’s Bachelor programs, go here.

3. Colorado State University

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Since it first opened its doors in 1870, Colorado State University has grown into a world-class institution that has educated Olympic gold medalists, state governors, artists, CEOs, and many more leaders of our society. Colorado State is ranked as the 60th best public university in the nation and 7th for the best online bachelor’s program. CSU OnlinePlus offers bachelor’s degree programs accredited by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges in agricultural business, fire and emergency services, human development, liberal arts, and psychology. Tuition rates for undergraduate courses cost $379 per credit hour. Students in OnlinePlus programs have the same access to university resources, including career services, advisement, community organizations, and library services.

To learn more about Colorado State University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.

4. Post University

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Interestingly, Post University was first founded in 1890 as the Matoon Shorthand School for commercial education training, such as typing, bookkeeping, and shorthand writing. Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, it became the first college to offer accredited degree programs fully online in Connecticut in 1996. Post University is ranked today as the 19th best online bachelor’s degree program in the nation. Tuition rates are $550 per credit hour for undergraduate work. One of the most unique features of Post’s online programs is that they are offered in eight-week modules, six times in the year. Therefore, students are able to earn a bachelor’s degree in over 35 different majors in as little as eighteen months.

To learn more about Post University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.

5. American Public University

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Acknowledged by the Sloan Consortium for best practices in online education, American Public University is currently ranked as the 22nd best online bachelor’s degree program by U.S. News and World Report. The university traces its roots back to 1991, when James P. Etter retired from active service in the Marine Corps and launched the online American Military University. Today, American Public University, accredited by the North Central Association, has evolved as one of the leading private institutions for online education worldwide with more than 100,000 students in more than 180 degree programs. At just $750 per three-credit course, American Public University offers tuition rates that are 42 percent lower than other online education providers.

To learn more about American Public University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.

6. Columbia College

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Founded in 1851, Columbia College has a long history of being among the first colleges to try daring experiments in higher education, such as enrolling females and adult learners in evening classes. Today, nearly 16,000 students take at least one online course each year from the ranked 35th best online bachelor’s program in the nation. Columbia College offers more than 800 online classes and 27 degree programs that are accredited by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges. After a $35 application fee, the undergraduate tuition rate is $245 per credit hour. With very small student to faculty ratio of 14:1, students in the online program are granted the special opportunity to learn one-on-one with experienced instructors and diverse peers.

To learn more about Columbia College’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.

7. Baker University

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Named for the Osmon Cleander Baker, a bishop of the United Methodist Church, Baker University was charted in 1858 as the first university in Kansas. Today, the private liberal arts school is ranked as the 62nd best university in the Midwest and the 147th best online bachelor’s program in the entire nation. Accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Baker offers online bachelor’s degrees in business administration, business, business leadership, and RN to BSN nursing. Full-time undergraduate tuition rates are $12,600 per semester, while part-time undergraduates pay $765 per credit. Online programs depend on Moodle, a virtual classroom platform for discussing course concepts, reading assignments, and taking examinations.

To learn more about Baker University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.

8. Grand Canyon University

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Established in 1949 by the Southern Baptist Convention, Grand Canyon University has developed a strong reputation as a premier Christian institution in Arizona. It also currently possesses the 63rd best online bachelor’s program in the country. Accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Grand Canyon University enables students to choose from nearly 100 different degree programs in liberal arts, health sciences, education, business, and nursing concentrations. Although tuition rates depend on the program of study, undergraduate students can expect to pay between $350 and $465 per credit. Unlike most other schools, Grand Canyon University online students take just one course at a time for more in-depth understanding and focus.

To learn more about Grand Canyon University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.

9. Liberty University

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A pioneer for distance education since 1985, Liberty University has since become the nation’s largest private nonprofit university. Ranked as the 89th best college in the South and the 109th best online bachelor’s program, Liberty shows consistently high student satisfaction with high retention and graduation rates. As a nonprofit institution, Liberty University is able to provide some of the lowest tuition rates for online higher education. Part-time undergraduate students pay $385 per credit, while full-time undergraduates pay just $340 per credit. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Liberty offers more than 160 degree programs, ranging from criminal justice and counseling to education and Christian ministry. Liberty University also provides a unique ability to receive credit for prior work and life experience.

To learn more about Liberty University Online Bachelor programs, go here.

10. Keiser University

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As one of the largest independent career universities in Florida, Keiser University is ranked as the 57th best college in the South. After being founded in 1977 by the Keiser Family in Fort Lauderdale, has expanded to 13 campuses throughout the state and online. In 2005, Keiser University was named the “College of the Year” by the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges. The Keiser University eCampus, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, starts new courses conveniently each month. Students also have the unique chance to choose between pursuing one of the 15-plus bachelor’s degree programs in English or Spanish. Although tuition rates are high at $6,356 per semester for full-time undergraduates, more than two-thirds of the student body receives financial aid.

To learn more about Keiser University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.

11. Kaplan University

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In the late 1930s while the nation was still suffering from the effects of the Great Depression, Stanley H. Kaplan started a small business to provide tutoring to immigrant families and improve their education. Over the subsequent decades, Kaplan University grew into one of the leading worldwide institutions for distance higher learning. Accredited by the North Central Association, Kaplan is currently ranked as the 17th best online university by the Online Education Database. It is also a very military-friendly school, with more than 9,000 active military, veterans, or military spouses receiving online degrees annually. For bachelor’s degree programs, online tuition rates are $371 per quarter credit hour.

To learn more about Kaplan University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.

12. Walden University

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In 1970, Walden University was founded by two professors, Bernie and Rita Turner, who were seeking a way to help adults in the workforce earn a doctoral degree. Since celebrating its 40th anniversary, President Bill Clinton addressed the graduates at the 2011 commencement ceremony. Walden’s online business program is ranked the 109th best in the nation, while the online education program is ranked 80th. Accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Walden University offers 19 different bachelor’s degree programs fully online. Although tuition rates are tailored to fit the individual degree program, most undergraduate students pay between $300 and $450 per credit hour. Enrolled online students benefit from a Student Support Team for guidance through the program, including a unique Student Readiness Orientation.

To learn more about Walden University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.

13. Ashford University

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Ashford University was first founded in 1918 by the Sisters of St. Francis as the Mount St. Clare Junior College for Women in Clinton, Iowa. Today, Ashford University has been transformed into the fifth best online university by MyCollegesandCareers.com. It is accredited by the North Central Association to award bachelor’s degrees fully online in the fields of business, human services, health sciences, education, and liberal arts. According to alumni survey provided by the university, 92 percent of graduates were satisfied or very satisfied with their Ashford experience. In addition to a $50 technology fee per course, the tuition rate for online students is $413 per credit. Amazingly, students that are seeking a bachelor’s degree at Ashford are welcome to transfer up to 90 approved credits from other institutions.

To learn more about Ashford University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.

14. Lone Star College

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Since the college opened in 1973, it has expanded to include eight on-campus and online schools to become the largest institution for higher learning in Houston. Lone Star College has been ranked as the third top producer of degrees among community colleges in the nation, as well as third in the nation for the number of enrolled international students. It is an open-enrollment institution, which means all students are accepted once their admissions application has been submitted. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Lone Star College offers hundreds of online certificate, associate, and bachelor’s degrees. Tuition rates are based on residency, but those that live within the district can pay as little as $88 per credit hour.

To learn more about Lone Star College’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.

15. Capella University

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Founded in 1993 by Dr. Harold Abel and Stephen Shank, Capella University is owned by the publicly traded Capella Education Company. Accredited by the North Central Association, Capella offers bachelor’s degrees in business, psychology, technology, health care, nursing, and public safety. For a bachelor’s degree, Capella University tuition rates are between $305 and $360 per credit. One of the most unique features of a Capella online education is its latest FlexPath learning format, which enables students to complete courses at their own pace during the course without weekly deadlines. Graduate surveys also indicate that 84 percent of Capella alumni advance professionally within 5 years of completion.

To learn more about Capella University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.

Top 15 Accredited Schools Offering Online Associate Degrees

top-online-associatesAs young men and women strive to earn degrees, many find that online learning is one of the most affordable, flexible, and well-respected methods of securing their education. In response, many traditional brick and mortar institutions have created online curriculum to meet the needs of a diverse number students.   This means that through the advances in education and technology, attending classes on campus is no longer the only way to work toward a degree.

The evolution of education to the online and/or flexible campus model makes gaining the knowledge base and refining the skills necessary for career advancement attainable for nearly every student, including working adults and other non-traditional students.

Since an associate degree is often the building block for educational, personal, and career success,  we have collected information regarding some of the world’s best online associate degree programs.  These schools represent the best in majors, affordability, and academic quality.  Many of the schools on this list were ranked on SuperScholar’s Top Ten Smart Choice Schools for Online Associates Degrees in 2013 . Several of the schools have received awards for excellence in program development, while others have faculty members who have received distinguished teaching awards.

Since college degrees generally represent excellence, we hope that you take the first step toward meeting your educational and personal aspirations through an online associate degree program.  As you hone your vision of what excellence means to you, as well as determine the educational, financial and logistical aspects of managing work and family as you complete your degree,  check out this list of the Top 15 Accredited Schools Online Offering Associate Degrees.   All of the schools on this list are guaranteed to help you as you begin your educational endeavors within associates degree programs as well as offer lasting effects like increased employability, expanded training in your field, and refined skills needed to secure your future success.

1. UMassOnline

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UMassOnline, part of University of Massachusetts’ multi-campus presence, was founded in 2001, responding to the need for accredited, quality education in a flexible forum. This school boasts over 1500 classes and offers 100 of the parent University’s degrees online to a worldwide student base. Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, UmassOnline’s Associate of Science in Information Technology degree leads the way in preparing students for Fortune Magazine’s top twenty fastest growing professional jobs, such as Environmental Engineers, Systems Analysts, and Medical Scientists.

To learn more about UMASSOnline’s Associates programs, go here .

2. Columbia College

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Flexibility has been the focus of this college. Founded in 1851, Columbia College has changed with the times. They pride themselves on offering affordable education in an online setting. Many of the instructors that teach the online courses also teach their campus classes. Eight-week classes offered five times a year allows students to pace themselves and maximize their educational experience. With over 800 classes accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, Columbia College caters to the needs of those with families, working adults, and those in the military.

To learn more about Columbia College’s Associates programs, go here .

3. Penn State Online

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Penn State Online understands what it means to be flexible. They are one of the pioneers of distance learning, having offered their first class correspondence class over 100 years ago in 1892. In 1998 they were one of the first accredited university to advance into the foray of online learning. They understand what it takes to provide quality instruction without being in a physical classroom. Penn State Online’s renowned leaders in their chosen field serve students from all over the world, teaching the same curriculum that is taught on campus. With five Associate degrees to choose from, Penn State Online makes a better future attainable.

To learn more about Penn State Online’s Associates programs, go here .

4. Keiser University

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Keiser believes in laying the foundation for academic excellence. Their step-by-step approach to learning allows students to take one class at a time for a four-week session before moving on to the next one. The focus this allows gives students the ability to hone in on their studies and master the material.  Additionally, Keiser’s curriculum has the unique distinction of being reviewed by employers in related industries. Keiser has Associate degree offerings in Computers and Technologies, Culinary Arts, Business, and Nursing and Allied health that are accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

To learn more about Keiser University’s Associate programs, go here .

5. Baker University

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Baker University, a small private institute founded in 1858, prides itself on small classes and attention to the student. Among its alumni are Rhode Scholars and Pulitzer Prize winners! Baker University, known as the first university in Kansas, has an online program that embodies the same values expressed in the school mission as the physical campus does. Their commitment to developing well-rounded contributors to society is evident in their personal approach to academics. Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, Baker University offers an Associate of Arts in Business degree.

To learn more about Baker University’s Associate degree programs, go here .

6. Liberty University

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Dr. Jerry Falwell founded Liberty University, a Christian institution, in 1971. The university created a distance learning program in 1985. Liberty University strives to develop Christ-centered students ready to emerge as leaders in their field upon graduation. Online Education Database consistently ranks Liberty University among the top 10 online universities. The university is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. With ten Associate degree programs in fields such as Accounting, Criminal Justice, and Psychology, Liberty University secures a solid place in online education for variety and flexibility.

To learn more about Liberty University’s Associate degree programs, go here .

7. American Public University

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American Public University, founded in 2002 under the flagship institution, American Military University, boasts 100,000 students taking classes with them. The university strives to offer relevant courses and majors that satisfy current private and public sector needs. American Public University commits to upholding academic integrity and providing students with viable career paths. Instructors with real world experience teach students practical information backed by accreditation by The Higher Learning Commission. There are several Associate degree paths available under the two larger umbrellas: Associate of Arts and Associate of Science.

To learn more about American Public University’s Associate degree programs, go here .

8. Northern Virginia Community College

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Northern Virginia Community College, founded in 1964, offers quality education at an affordable price. Their online component adds to the appeal by adding convenience. Accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Northern Virginia Community College offers 160 degrees. Northern Virginia Community College has designed two different types of Associate degree programs – one prepares the student to transfer to a four-year institution, while the other prepares students for the work force.

To learn more about Northern Virginia Community College’s Associate degree programs, go here .

9. Kaplan University

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Kaplan University, a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company, has been involved in education since 1937.  All students at Kaplan have the opportunity to enhance and advance their careers through gaining a degree from an establishment dedicated to helping students.  Kaplan offers curricula that have been reviewed by academic and business resources as well as accrediting organizations to ensure quality education at an affordable price. Kaplan strives to cultivate a desire to learn that spans past the completion of the degree. Kaplan University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. The university has two Associate programs: Applied Science in Human Services and Applied Science in Early Childhood Development.

To learn more about Kaplan University’s Associate degree programs, go here .

10. Grantham University

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Grantham University provides degree programs that are aligned with society’s current needs. Striving to produce degree programs that are relevant and accessible for working adults, Grantham University focuses on student success at its core.  Boasting accreditation by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council since 1961, Grantham makes education not only attainable but also “guarantee-ably” reputable. Founded in 1955 as an offshoot of its flagship institution, the Grantham Radio License School, Grantham University expanded its online degree offerings in 2002 to keep pace with evolving national requirements.  Associate degree programs in disciplines like Business Administration, Engineering Management Technology, and Medical Coding and Billing make Grantham a great match for many students!

To learn more about Grantham University’s Associate degree programs, go here .

11. Lone Star Community College

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Lone Star Community College, the fastest-growing community college in the United States, is an open enrollment institution, accepting all applicants with current admissions applications. Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Lone Star Community College students enjoy easy transfer processes to four-year universities because of the college’s partnerships. Students taking classes online at Lone Star Community College have the opportunity to participate in fully online, or hybrid classes, which offers a combination of online and on campus learning within a dynamic environment ensuring quality, affordability, and excellence.

To learn more about Lone Star Community College’s Associate degree programs, go here .

12. Ashford University

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Ashford University, originally founded as Mount St. Clare College – a junior college for women – in 1918, has added curriculum and focus over the years, offering first baccalaureate degrees, then, over time, Master’s degrees. They are now a well-recognized accredited university with both a brick and mortar and an online presence. Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, Ashford provides affordable and innovative learning opportunities to their students. With a 92% overall satisfaction rating from alumni, Ashford University is well poised to serve future students.

To learn more about Ashford University’s Associate degree programs, go here .

13. Eastern Kentucky University

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Eastern Kentucky University has earned more than its share of awards. Among them is the distinction of being the Number 1 institution of higher learning for veterans. Consistently ranks them as one of the most military friendly schools, their flexible scheduling is designed to help working adults achieve their academic goals  The university provides the same curriculum on both their physical campus and the online presence, and both formats of learning instruction are also taught by the same distinguished instructors. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Eastern Kentucky University offers three Associate degrees: General Studies, Paralegal Studies/ Paralegal Science, and Police Studies.

To learn more, about Eastern Kentucky University’s Associate degree programs, go here

14. Post University

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Post University signifies evolution. Over their 120-year span, Post University has offered a diverse curriculua that is not only relevant to the times but, more importantly, forward thinking. Post University offers classes accredited through New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Their online experience allows students to connect with professors and advisors who will assist in working toward student goals. The courses are offered in eight-week sessions six times a year. With several Associates degrees to choose from, Post University continues along the path they have always traveled – providing versatility to students.

To learn more about Post University Associate degree programs, go here .

15. Tarrant County College

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Tarrant County College believes in helping students turn academic success into gainful, fulfilling employment. With 50,000 students enrolled, Tarrant County College is one of the top ten largest colleges and universities in the state of Texas. Founded in 1965, this college offers four different Associates degrees as well as certificates and opportunities for continuing education. Accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Tarrant County College offers affordable classes to enhance job skills and career building.

To learn more about Tarrant County College Associates degree programs, go here .

Top 15 Accredited Online Colleges of 2014

top-accredited-online-collegesA quality undergraduate or graduate degree from a noteworthy university is a valuable foundation upon which to rest a successful career.  As students as the enter the realm of higher education, many have a difficult time selecting a school – especially if they are hoping to complete their education online.   Often the world’s best universities offer online programs with the same academic quality as their traditional, on campus programs but this is something which prospective students must not take for granted.  Many find research and rankings from informative and trustworthy college reviews are a great to help them make the right decision in terms of the selection process.

That’s where we step in to offer our assistance paired with the results of our lengthy investigations.  The following programs on our list of the Top 15 Accredited Online Colleges of 2014 were selected based upon important factors all prospective online students must consider – such as academic quality, affordability, awards, reputation, faculty and diversity of degrees offered.  These schools have superior academic quality.   Plus they prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful leaders in their chosen professions and in life.  And best of all, the universities on this list have an excellent and notable reputation among other universities and professionals and they have won coveted awards from reputable sources such as Forbes, the US World & News Report, and Super Scholar.

When students receive degrees from one of these schools, they receive a degree they can be proud of.  All programs on this list have impressive faculties made up of knowledgeable leaders with real world experience in their fields.  The faculty members teaching at these schools are well-qualified to teach students what they really need to know to be successful in the fields they are entering.  These universities also offer a variety of useful degrees, though some specialize in just a couple fields while others offer a wide variety of choices all within a single university.  These universities are also affordable choices that make education an obtainable reality for graduation hopefuls.   As an added bonus, some of the classes offered from these schools cost as little as a couple hundred dollars per credit hour  so most meet nearly every and any students’ financial needs.

Without further delay, we present the Top 15 Accredited Online Colleges of 2014:

1. St. John’s University Online

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Founded in 1870 by the Vincentian Community as a private, coeducational Roman Catholic University, St. John’s University now offers St. John’s University Online—one of the best Online Universities in existence today. Students of St. John’s University Online attend small, highly interactive classes taught by faculty who are experts in their field. There are six undergraduate programs available at St. John’s University Online, including business, criminal justice and liberal studies. Undergraduate tuition rates are $1,215 per credit hour or $18,225 per semester. Graduate tuition rates are between $1,100 and $1,325 per semester. St. John’s University is regionally accredited by Middle States Association Commission on Higher Education as well as accredited at the state level by the State Education Department of New York.

For more about St. John’s University’s Online Programs, go here.

2. Arizona State University Online

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Another excellent online university, Arizona State University Online is top ranked by U.S. News and World Report, the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards and Forbes. Arizona State University Online offers effective, flexible and smart education taught by internationally recognized faculty. Students at Arizona State University Online have access to eight award-winning libraries and an expansive alumni network with tens of thousands of members. Arizona State University Online is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges and is authorized or registered in most states throughout the country. Tuition for Arizona State University Online ranges from $460 to $523 per credit hour for undergraduate programs and from $482 to $852 per credit hour for graduate programs, not including additional program fees.

For more about Arizona State University’s Online Programs, go here.

3. California State University Online

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California State University Online is the largest and most diverse university system in the U.S. Students of California State University Online benefit from individualized attention from world-renowned faculty and staff. Degree programs offered at California State University Online include a Bachelor’s of Science in Applied Studies, a Bachelor’s of Art in Business Administration and a Master’s of Science in Management Information Technology. California State University Online is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and some specific degree programs also carry additional accreditations. Tuition is between $400 and $500 per undergraduate unit and between $500 and $700 per graduate unit.

For more about California State University’s Online Programs, go here.

4. University of Massachusetts Online

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Created in 2001, the University of Massachusetts Online, or U Mass Online, offers over 100 degrees and over 1500 courses from a top-ranked University with world-renowned faculty. U Mass Online has over 330,000 alumni, many of whom are highly respected industry leaders. Degree offerings include education, business and management, liberal arts and several others. An online degree from U Mass Online is just as rigorous and challenging as a traditional degree from the University of Massachusetts and diplomas earned from both will make no distinction between the two. U Mass Online is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and also has additional accreditations for various degree programs. Tuition for non-credit and undergraduate courses ranges from $125-$1,980 per credit hour, while tuition for graduate-level courses ranges from $1,230-$2,250 per credit hour.

For more about the University of Massachusetts’ Online Programs, go here.

5. Pennsylvania State University Online

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A pioneer in distance learning, Penn State began offering one of the nation’s first correspondence courses in 1892 and it became one of the first major universities to offer an online education in 1998. Penn State Online educates students from all 50 states, more than 40 countries and seven continents. After students receive their diplomas, which do not differentiate between the traditional Penn State and Penn State online, they join the largest alumni network in the nation. Penn State Online is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and several of the individual degree programs offered have additional accreditations as well. Undergraduate tuition is $518 per credit or $6,353 per semester. Graduation tuition is $736 to $1,100 per credit or $7,414 to $13,200 per semester.

For more about Pennsylvania State University’s Online Programs, go here.

6. Colorado State University Online

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Colorado State University Online offers over 45 years’ worth of experience in delivering online education. Classes typically have weekly, rather than daily, requirements so students can complete their coursework as their schedule allows. Colorado State University Online is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, a Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges. Some specific educational programs have specialized accreditations as well. Undergraduate tuition is $379 per credit, plus fees. Graduate tuition is $549 per credit, plus fees. Diplomas do not distinguish between degrees earned online and in the classroom, so all graduates of Colorado State University Online receive all the benefits of a degree from Colorado State University.

For more about Colorado State University’s Online Programs, go here.

7. Brandman University

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Brandman University Online stands apart because its graduation rate of 70 percent is significantly higher than the national average. Brandman University Online offers degrees in fields such as Arts & Sciences, Business & Professional Studies and Education. Brandman University Online is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Classes towards associate degrees cost $360 per credit, or $250 per credit for military. Classes towards bachelor’s degrees cost $500 per credit, or $250 per credit for military. Classes towards graduate degrees cost $600 per credit, or $350 to $440 per credit for military.

For more about Brandman University’s Online Programs, go here.

8. Columbia College

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Columbia College Online offers 27 degree programs at the associate, bachelor and master’s degree levels. Classes are taught in eight-week sessions starting in January, March, June, August and October so students only need to make short-term class commitments. Students are free to start and stop degree programs whenever they please as they work around their busy schedules. Columbia College Online is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges and is a member of the North Central Association. Undergraduate tuition costs $245 per credit hour, while graduate tuition costs $345 per credit hour, plus fees.

For more about Columbia College’s Online Programs, go here.

9. American Public University

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American Public University is one of the few colleges that exists solely online instead of being connected to a physical school. American Public University was created in 2002 as an extension of American Military University, one of the first 100 percent online universities. American Public University offers common degrees such as criminal justice as well as unique degrees such as counterterrorism and military intelligence. American Public University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. American Public University’s business and nursing programs have additional accreditations and certifications as well. American Public University is proud of its very affordable tuition prices: Undergraduate tuition is only $250 per credit hour while graduate tuition is only $325 per credit hour.

For more about American Public University’s Online Programs, go here.

10. Robert Morris University

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Robert Morris University began as the Pittsburgh School of Accountancy in 1921, was renamed Robert Morris University in 2002, and now offers the same quality education through Robert Morris University Online, an online program that has received a top rating by Super Scholar. Online classes are eight-weeks long and are taught by the same experienced professors that teach traditional classes at Robert Morris University. Robert Morris University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Various degree programs also have additional certifications. Online courses are $680 per credit.

For more about Robert Morris University’s Online Programs, go here.

11. Liberty University Online

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Liberty University Online is the largest private, nonprofit online university in the nation. Liberty University Online is set apart both by its commitment to training students as champions for Christ and by the fact that all of the classes in the more than 160 degree programs available are taught from a Christian perspective. Liberty University Online is regionally accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Many of its programs are accredited or recognized by professional and accrediting agencies as well. Undergraduate tuition is $385 per credit for part-time enrollment and $340 per credit for full-time enrollment. Graduate tuition is $535 per credit for part time enrollment and $490 per credit for part time enrollment. PhD and Doctorate programs are $570 per credit for part time enrollment and $520 per credit for full time enrollment. Discounts are offered for students in the military.

For more about Liberty University’s Online Programs, go here.

12. Johns Hopkins University Online

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Johns Hopkins University Online is an extension of the very prestigious Johns Hopkins University, which was created in 1876 as a research university with the mission of bringing knowledge for the world. It was America’s first research university and it still exists today. John Hopkins University was founded on the principle that education should be grounded in exploration and discovery. This principle lives on today through Johns Hopkins University Online. Johns Hopkins University Online is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

For more about Johns Hopkins University’s Online Programs, go here.

13. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Online

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Virginia Tech Online offers 356 courses and 79 programs entirely online. This allows students to take classes at any place and at any time. Virginia Tech is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Undergraduate tuition is $400.75 per credit hour for Virginia residents and $1,032 per credit hour for nonresidents. Graduate tuition is $621.50 per credit hour for Virginia residents and $1,230.25 per credit hour for nonresidents.

For more about Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University’s Online Programs, go here.

14. Graceland University

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Graceland University was founded as a private liberal arts university in 1895. Graceland University online, an extension of Graceland University, offers degrees such as Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Education and Doctor of Nursing Practice. Unlike other online universities, Graceland University does require students to attend on-campus Focus Sessions. Graceland University Online is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the nursing and teaching programs have additional professional accreditations. Graceland University Online is also a member of the North Central Association. Tuition is $365 per semester hour for general education courses.

For more about Graceland University’s Online Programs, go here.

15. Regent University

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Regent University Online offers an education grounded in faith and instruction from a Christian perspective. The university’s purpose is not only to prepare students for their professions, but also to prepare them as Christian leaders, ready for world-impact. Online class sizes are small with generally around 18 classmates each. There is no need for students to ever visit campus, though they are always welcome to if they would like. Regent University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Every school within the University has its own accreditations as well. Tuition ranges from $200 to $1,110 per credit hour.

For more about Regent University’s Online Programs, go here.

Accredited Online Doctoral Degrees – Overview

onlinephdSince selecting the right online or traditional doctoral program is critical to career success, one of the highest priorities is finding an online doctoral program that best suits your individual educational and professional needs while maximizing the efficiency of your time and monetary investments. Selecting a program accredited by proper governing bodies is one of the best ways to do just that since ensures that the degree will be valid in the eyes of the academic world and future employers. Though the reasons why doctoral students pursue an advanced degree vary, most are seeking the degree to work in academia – a field which candidates job prospects hinge on having a degree from an accredited source.

Online learning has become more widely accepted over the recent years due to the increasing demand by students for alternatives to the time and financial investments required to complete traditional degrees. Earning a degree online can open up lots of different doors, including career advancement opportunities, employment in a new career, and so much more. Knowing exactly what an online associate degree is and in which ways it is different from a traditional degree can help you as you select the best school to meet your personal, financial, educational, and professional needs.

What an Online Doctoral Degree is

A doctoral degree, also known as a doctorate or PhD, is the highest professional degree that is granted by academic institutions in a variety of fields. Doctoral online degrees allow students to complete this same advanced level degree conveniently in an online format over the Internet. Doctoral degrees are among the most rapid growing sectors of online programs being offered today, mostly because they provide the flexibility to complete coursework and work fill-time. Online doctoral degrees are offered through programs that are exclusively online, as well as through hybrid extensions with conventional school programs.

Some of the most popular doctoral degrees are in education, law, pharmacy, physical therapy, psychology, criminal justice, and engineering. Depending on the subject area of study, an online doctoral degree can require anywhere from four to seven years to fully complete. Most require years of coursework and materials, before completing a research dissertation individually. Degrees in science fields generally take the longest, while those in the arts and humanities may only take four or five years. Once a student completes the doctoral degree online, they have the widest selection of job opportunities in the academic world, either as a professor or faculty researcher.

The Difference Between Online Doctoral Degrees and Traditional Degrees

An online doctoral program is only different from its traditional counterpart for about the first two years, since this is when the majority of the course materials are completed. Of course, this is traditionally completed in the classroom, but in online programs it is conducted through the Internet from anywhere in the world. Therefore, students have the ability to complete the assignments at their own pace and on their own time. Online classes still follow a syllabus that designates when assignments are due and when exams need to be taken. During the second part of the online doctoral program, it does not differ much from the traditional program because the student still works independently on a dissertation.

Professors usually are available to consult with students one-on-one via email, phone, or live chat on messengers. If it is an extensive of a program taught at a brick and mortar program or the student’s location allows, there may also be established office hours where professors will meet with students in person. Students also engage with other students in the class, through interactive message boards, discussions, and virtual classroom chat rooms. Most students decide to work full-time while going to school part-time because online courses provide the convenience of completing the work at any hour of the day. However, it is important to note that online doctoral degree programs are just as rigorous as conventional programs. The only major difference is that students are gifted with the flexibility of carrying on other commitments and completing the courses in their own time.

As when choosing any degree program, it is tremendously important for doctoral students to make sure the program has existed for at least three years. Doing so will be increase the likelihood that the instructors are experienced and knowledgeable about the online learning format. Beyond this, students need to find a program that fits their schedule, provides resources that suit individual goals, and offers the refined skills necessary to advance to employment as a highly qualified professional.

Accredited Online Masters Degree Programs – Overview

onlinemasterStudents enter graduate studies for a diverse number of reasons. Many want to earn a master’s degree as a way to continue learning, and others choose to continue their education for job advancement or a change in career. No matter what the reason, most graduate candidate hopefuls feel that online degree programs are best suited to meet their educational and professional goals. Since most students must manage work and family responsibilities in addition to academics, many find that participating in accredited online master degree programs is the best way to maximize the efficiency of their time and financial investments. Plus completing a master degree leads to a number of possibilities both while attending courses and after graduation.

What A Master’s Degree Is

Most people respect the importance of education, and earning an undergraduate degree is an investment that often opens doors of opportunity. The master’s degree is the next step up the ladder of academic credentials after a bachelor’s degree. An online master degree is the same as one earned on campus, except that students do not sit in a campus classroom and have a virtual learning experience compliments of technology and the internet. A master’s degree may increase opportunities, but experts recommend that students consider the cost of spending at least another year in study in addition to the price of enrollment. The U.S. News and World Report asked business executives for opinions about the value of getting a master’s degree as a way to achieve success in the business world. Responses reflected mixed opinions, with some favoring it while others valued experience more highly. Earning a master’s degree usually requires at least one year of study after graduation from undergraduate school. Students in graduate school focus on a special area of interest, usually the major field in which they earned an undergraduate degree.

Many graduate programs combine studying with work experiences as an option that some executives recommend as a practical approach. Combining a master’s degree with on the job experience is a potential way to impress future employers, according to an executive recruiter who was interviewed by the magazine. An advanced degree that is enhanced by work experience or internships may show that a job candidate has practical as well as theoretical knowledge.

Availability of Online Master Degree Programs

Nearly one thousand schools offer online master’s degree programs, and many of them provide hundreds of fields of interest. Millions of students are currently enrolled in online master’s degree programs, allowing them the opportunity to continue working while studying on evenings and weekends. The National Center for Educational Statistics reports that master’s degrees in these fields are the most popular:

Business Administration
Courses offer instruction in marketing, finance, business law and statistics for aspiring administrators, supervisors and managers.

Education
Teachers who want to advance can take courses in assessment, evaluation, curriculum development and leadership skills.

Public Health
Advanced training is available for public health workers that include program coordinators, administrators and consultants.

Public Administration
Offering instruction in urban planning, finance, strategic planning, quantitative math, budgeting and personnel management, the degree is a choice of many in the public sector.

Engineering
Many sub-fields in engineering are featured in online master’s programs, including civil engineering that focuses on viability and environmental aspects of capital projects.

Psychology
Advancement in the mental health field includes knowledge of psychological assessment methods, cognitive influences, ethical issues and behavioral studies.

Criminal Justice
A career in crime investigation and prevention is aided with courses in forensic science, law enforcement, terrorism and administration.

Information Technology
The study of information technology includes software and hardware development, networking, security requirements and business information processes.

Nursing
Advancing in the nursing field requires coursework that includes ethics and policy matters, finance and research in healthcare.

Social Work
Careers in community health require training in developing welfare policy as well as learning about clinical operations.

Opportunities to earn a master’s degree online are readily available to college graduates who have access to a computer. In combination with work experience, the degree may open doors to advancement for aspiring job applicants since courses provide the refined skills and educational background necessary to propel personal, educational, and professional goals.

Accredited Online Bachelor Degrees – Overview

oninebachWith the emergence of the internet, more and more colleges and universities are beginning to offer online bachelor degree programs to students across the world. Unlike going to an actual brick-and-mortar institution, online bachelor degree programs are becoming a dominant norm for how many people across the world are obtaining an undergraduate education. Online education is now becoming a serious alternative for those looking for an undergraduate education. Years ago, it was assumed that online schooling was only for certain individuals, but now it is becoming a common option for working professionals, those interested in switching careers, and others looking for an affordable, flexible, and accelerated option that they need to pursue their professional aspirations. Because students are not going to a traditional brick-and-mortar institution for their education, most online programs are more affordable than their brick and mortar counterparts. Obviously, tuition costs and educational expenses will depend on the school and the program. It’s important to research and find the most affordable program that will suit your educational, personal, and professional needs.

The Difference Between Online Bachelor Degrees and Traditional Degrees

It is now common for many community colleges, four year colleges and universities to offer online bachelor degree options. Typically, these programs are offered for very common programs such as nursing, business management, criminal justice and information technology. These programs are accredited similar to other bachelor degree programs and require schools to meet or surpass specific standards established by accreditation organizations and agencies. Courses are administered through a variety of innovative options. The most common is that students will take courses that are taught by a professor in a remote location who is simultaneously teaching a live class. When examination time comes, students will take a class at a location where there is an official test proctor. Another common option is that students will courses offered through an online learning content management system where course materials, lectures and examinations are already created and automated for students to take.

Just like traditional bachelor degree programs, students are still expected to go through the college’s or university’s application process. This usually means sending high school and other school transcripts, letters of recommendation, college entrance test scores like the ACT and SAT and a personal statement. Some colleges may not require all of this, however, do your due diligence to see what are the exact requirements for the online bachelor degree program you are interested in.

Most online bachelor degree programs will require students to have the latest PC technology, a webcam, microphone and a stable fast speed internet connection. Most students have laptops that were made no prior to two years ago. Also students must ensure that they have a stable internet connection. It is recommended that students either have a cable or fiber optic internet service.

The typical online bachelor’s degree program can last anywhere between three to four years depending on meeting all general education prerequisites. There are some colleges that offer accelerated options. These are usually offered through health science and nursing programs. Additionally, as long as the online program is accredited, students may be eligible for all forms of financial aid such as loans and grants. Students should still seek other alternative funding opportunities such as scholarships and fellowships.

Accredited Online Associate Degree Programs – Overview

associateonlineOnline learning has become more widely accepted over the recent years due to the increasing demand by students for alternatives to the time and financial investments required to complete traditional degrees. Earning a degree online can open up lots of different doors, including career advancement opportunities, employment in a new career, and so much more. Knowing exactly what an online associate degree is and in which ways it is different from a traditional degree can help you as you select the best school to meet your personal, financial, educational, and professional needs.

What An Associate Degree Is

An associate degree is a degree that is earned from two-year college for completing a specific program of study. Associate degrees generally take two years to complete, but in some cases, they can take longer if the student drops to or below half time status. The online aspect of an associate degree program means that the required courses are taken online rather than on a traditional campus. The student connects to his/her classes via an internet connection and receives assignments, completes work, and takes test all from the comfort of his/her own home.

Once the course of study is completed for the degree, the student is typically given the choice to either attend a traditional graduation or simply receive his/her diploma in the mail.

The Differences Between Online Associate Degrees and Traditional Degrees

The online associate degree differs from traditional associate degrees in many ways. One of the most major ways is that courses can be accessed from almost anywhere that has an internet connection. This particular perk is perfect for students that don’t live anywhere near a traditional campus to attend school, if they frequently travel, or must maintain work or family responsibilities in addition to their studies.

Online associate degrees also allow students to truly work at their own pace as opposed to at traditional schools. A traditional student that attends school on campus might be required to sit in on a two hour long lecture, while the online student has the choice of listening to the lecture or not. If you find that you can complete the work without listening to the lecture, this is often times permissible in online classes.

Online associate degrees are also great for those who desperately need to balance work and school. Because they can be logged into at any time, they are perfect for the students that work even the most odd work shifts. For example, a person that works midnight work shifts has the same chance of passing a class at school that another student does who happens to work earlier, more traditional hours. Traditional universities/colleges require that students show up for class at certain times with no exceptions.

Lastly, online associate degrees do not commonly require that students take unrelated elective courses to their degrees. Online degree curricula are typically to the point and hinge closely to relevant subject matter. This means you only take classes that are pertinent to your field so that you can in and out more quickly, and you can enter the real world as a qualified professional ready to begin looking for work.

Accredited Online Degree Programs – The Advantages

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Online degree programs are growing in popularity and appeal to all age groups. Making certain that the chosen program is accredited ensure a more successful outcome. Plus are many advantages to completing your college or university studies online. Many online degrees are considered just as valuable as their traditional and on-campus counterparts though the difference between an online degree and a traditional one is that the student “attends” classes via the Internet from any location rather than attending a college campus. Many students must continue to work full time while pursuing an associate, bachelor’s, masters or doctoral degree. The physically disabled, those who must maintain work responsibilities, and stay-at-home parents benefit from having the option to take online classes. These students have the same opportunity to continue their education in an online-accredited degree program as those who choose the traditional campus setting thanks to the response of many colleges and universities who offer the flexibly scheduling of online programs. What sets most online degrees apart is whether or not they are accredited. Accreditation helps ensure a high quality education for students, which is important in today’s highly competitive job market since acquiring an accredited online degree is looked upon favorably by employers and increases opportunities for promotions.

The Accreditation Process for Colleges and Universities

To be recognized by accrediting organizations and agencies, colleges and universities undergo evaluation against specific and established standards prior to receiving accreditation. This validation process in the United States is voluntary and is conducted by private non-governmental accrediting agencies. Accredited online degrees satisfy all state educational guidelines and are readily accepted by most employers. According to a survey conducted by the Distance and Training Council, a high percentage of employers preferred accredited online program graduates because of their in-depth knowledge and organizational skills. Those who earn an online degree exhibit more self-discipline and are more inclined to meet pre-determined goals.

The Difference Between Accredited Schools And Accredited Programs

Many schools offer online degree programs, but not all are accredited. It is vitally important for all students to remember that just because a school is accredited does not mean that the online degree programs are accredited as well. The primary types of accreditation include regional, national and international accreditation agencies. Certain areas of study for a specific degree program require programmatic accreditation. One example of a regional accrediting agency for colleges and universities is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools The Higher Learning Commission. An example of a programmatic accrediting agency for an online program in library science is the American Library Association Committee on Accreditation.

The Online Degree Experience

Today’s technology enables some individuals to begin or continue their higher education in a convenient way that enhances learning and helps them maintain a connection to other students. The online college experience provides many opportunities for students to interact with one another in a digital or alternative setting. Many schools have established social studying sites for those who prefer studying in a group setting so even online students get the first hand college experiences necessary to establish the educational foundation necessary for success.

Students who choose online learning to complete their degree have the opportunity to engage in numerous activities that offer similar social interaction experiences as those who attend classes on campus. Online threaded discussions allow students to interact with instructors and other students at the same time. These discussions involve posting a response to a question or possibly commenting on another student’s post. The online setting provides students with an opportunity to engage other students in more thought-provoking discussions.

Online learning gives students the opportunity and independence to choose when to participate in the class. This aspect of online classes challenges some to develop time-management skills to avoid procrastination, but this skill can be useful later on in the workplace. Most online students enjoy the opportunity to interact with fellow classmates and look forward to logging in to the class every day. Building online relationships with fellow class members provides motivation to interact with others in a meaningful way.