Online degree courses are fast becoming one of the most popular ways to obtain a graduate qualification, with increasing numbers of people applying each year. Nearly six million students in the USA are currently enrolled in fully online degree programs, nearly a quarter of the entire student body. For prospective students and employers, recognised online degree programmes hold just as much status as the traditional educational route. With the increasing number of course options available for those who wish to study online, we have identified the top five reasons to take an online degree:
Flexibility- it is easier to balance study around work and family life
One of the most attractive things about studying online is the flexibility that enables students to fit it around their other life commitments. With no scheduled lecture times, students can study when they want, from the comfort of their own homes. Universities make lectures and seminars available online with high-quality video and audio. Interactive discussion boards mean that students don’t have to physically be on campus to have valuable conversations with other students. Directed readings run alongside additional learning resources, such as live chats, online libraries and self-assessed mock exams which are all available to be completed in the student’s own time.
The flexibility of studying online means that students can continue to work and earn money, depending on whether they study part-time or full-time. Balancing study around family commitments is easier to manage with an online degree course too. Some people may worry that working in this way is more isolating than being surrounded by fellow students in a university environment, but online courses typically have highly active online discussion groups. This allows even shyer students to speak out in class, from the comfort of their own environment.
Studying from home has another major benefit in that students do not have to physically travel to a university lecture theatre and home again. Cutting down on commuting times makes study much easier to fit in.
Career Progress- move up the career ladder quicker
There are a wide variety of courses available to study online these days. Whatever their professional backgrounds or career aspirations are, students will likely be able to find an online degree course that will help them reach their career goals. Universities across the UK offer online degree courses, the choice of where to study does not have to be limited by location. If students want to apply to a university that is far from their home, they can take full advantage of their online programmes to access specialist courses without having to relocate. The ability to study online and around current jobs, allows students to take valuable steps in progressing their career or even navigate a complicated change of career.
Students completing a degree that is relevant to their job will benefit immediately and become a more valuable asset to their employer. In most cases, the online discussions and reading required for degree courses will be directly relevant to the students’ job. They can feedback their learnings to colleagues and implement them in their jobs right away.
Online degree courses require personal motivation and discipline to complete, particularly when balanced alongside a job, family or other commitments. The methods of learning require students to manage their time extremely well and be proactive. Earning an online degree demonstrates to both current and future employers that you can apply yourself to a challenge and work independently – all desirable traits in an employee.
Financial- the cost of obtaining a degree can be much lower
The costs associated with studying online are generally much less than completing a degree via the traditional route. In many cases, the fees are lower. Of course, this depends on the university and the nature of the degree, and there can be quite a lot of variation. The subject area also has an impact on the costs of a course, for example, MBAs tend to have a price tag to match the salary gains that graduates can expect.
As well as saving on tuition fees, there are other cost savings associated with studying online, such as the costs of living in a university city and commuting. Online degrees allow students to attend a university in a city where the cost of living may be extremely high, without having to pay the higher rental prices. Online students can also save money and time on commuting to and from classes.
For students who want to study alongside their work, some employers will offer full or part sponsorship options, which can make online study even more affordable. See our help article on how to approach your employer for sponsorship here.
Personal development and cultural enrichment
The very nature of online study means that the location of a university does not prevent students from applying, they can attend the university from anywhere around the world. With online study, students enter a virtual classroom full of students from a wide variety of geographic locations and cultural backgrounds. They can engage in discussions with like-minded people from around the world, learning about new world views and opinions that they would otherwise not experience. This can be as much of a learning experience as the course syllabus.
In summary, studying an online degree gives students the same benefit as a traditional study route, both professionally and academically, but with some unique benefits that make it a path that more and more students are taking.