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Types of Online Degrees Explained

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Explanations of Various Types of Online Degrees

When enrolling in an online institution, it is important that you research and understand the various types of degrees it offers. Upon matriculation, a good degree can strongly move your professional career in the right direction.

These articles cover the many different kinds of degrees available in the online education system, from a high school diploma to an associate degree, all the way up through doctorate degrees.

Read through the degree levels and try to figure out which one(s) coincide best with your career goals.


Online High School Diploma/GED

High school drop-out rates in America vary greatly depending on who is conducting the survey, but the typical numbers range between 19 percent and 33 percent. Not having a high school diploma can cause a number of road blocks in a person's potential career path. On average, according to the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, a high school drop-out earns about $700 per month less than someone with a high school diploma. Studies also show that high school graduates are typically healthier and are 70 percent more likely to be employed than those without a diploma.

With all of this said, the value of a high school diploma becomes very obvious. Beyond the personal satisfaction of graduating from high school, a diploma is likely to improve a person's chances of finding a career that will provide a comfortable living salary.

If the fear of going back to the classroom is standing in the way of getting a high school diploma, an online high school/GED program could be a great option. Online high school degrees can be completed entirely over the Internet or through a combination of online and classroom experiences. The length of these programs depends on the number of credits a student has already accumulated.

There are a number of different types of online schools available. Make sure that your selection is accredited and charges a tuition rate comparable to others.

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Online Associate Degree

An associate degree takes about two years to finish, but it could take less time if a student is extremely motivated. Typically, a student with an associate degree has successfully completed at least 60 hours of credit in a designated subject area. There are many different types of associate degrees, some of which place greater emphasis on specific subjects like business or science. Some individuals with an associate degree go straight into the workforce, while others use it to transfer into a bachelor program.

Earning an associate degree online is an ideal option for students who can't spend three to five hours a day in a classroom due to domestic or work obligations. Many associate degree programs are offered exclusively online or through distance learning programs. Most online programs also offer full-time or part-time options so that students can complete their degree at their own pace.

Online programs offering an associate degree are usually more expensive than a state sponsored community college. There are exceptions to this, of course, because community college prices differ depending on the state. Online schools generally have a blanketing price strategy, which means that no matter where you live, the cost of an associate degree will be the same.

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Online Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree is the most common degree that college students work toward. It usually takes four years or 120 credits to earn, and it has become a highly sought after degree among students attending online universities. The benefits of earning a bachelor's degree online are the guaranteed availability of required classes and the flexible nature of the course schedule. This freedom provides students with more open schedules for field related internships and/or jobs, an experience which employers find particularly desirable in job candidates.

The price of earning an online bachelor's degree varies by school. When compared to a traditional school, there is really no standard that can be set about which school is more expensive. Due to the varied costs of traditional colleges and universities, it is best to look into specific schools of interest to compare the costs.

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Online Master's Degree

A master's degree is the first possible level of graduate study after receiving a bachelor's degree. It is a level of study that usually requires an extensive amount of dedication and a more specific focus in one area. The many different types of masters degrees include, but are not limited to, a master's in education (MAT, MEd, MSed), a Master of Business Administration (MBA, MIB), a Master of Social Work (MSW), a Master of Library Science (MLS), and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA).

Due to the fact that a master's degree requires more intense study, there are fewer people who pursue this level of education. Only three percent of all Americans have a master's degree, which serves as a significant determinant in a person's salary. A study done by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that those professionals with a master's degree earn about $200 dollars more a week than those with just a bachelor's degree. Many master's degree holders use their advanced degrees to later pursue a PhD degree.

There are plenty of opportunities for students to earn a master's degree online. Depending on the area of study, these programs can take anywhere from one to three years to complete. One of the many advantages of an online master's program is the nondescript schedule for the program. Each program typically has many start times throughout the year, so students don't have to wait until the traditional months of autumn to begin.

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Online Doctoral Degree

Earning a doctoral degree is a very rigorous process, but someone with a PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy degree, is usually given a great amount of respect in their field of work. A PhD is considered a terminal degree, which means that it is the highest degree held within a field of study. Professionals who have earned a PhD, on average, earn over $37,000 more than professionals with a bachelor's degree.

The traditional PhD program requires a student to both collaborate with professionals and complete original hands-on research; the online approach, therefore, has relatively limited options. Usually, online PhD programs are meant for professionals who don't want to leave their line of work but want to experience the mind-bending process of a PhD program. Many of these professionals work in business, psychology and counseling, education, public health, and the human service sectors.

Most individuals who earn a PhD online do not intend to teach at the university level. An online degree is a great option for someone who is interested in expanding their knowledge for the sake of further learning.

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Online Certifications

Earning an online certificate is an ideal way to progress within a professional field without having to take time off of work. In essence, a professional certificate is a way to receive specialized knowledge without having to work for months or years toward an entire degree. Some certificates are intended for professionals with a degree, while others are intended for those without a degree.

Certificates intended for those without a degree are considered undergraduate certificate programs. These are recognized only by the field of work in which they are intended to be used. Students pursuing an undergraduate certificate are required to hold a high school diploma or GED. An undergraduate degree cannot be used to transfer to a college or university like an associate degree can. Graduate certificates are meant for professionals with a degree, and they are meant to advance the person's career.

Some of the more popular online certificate programs, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, include certificates in the fields of machinery driving, business management, finance, alternative health medicine, education, information technology, and paralegal studies. Most of these online certificate programs take a number of months to complete.

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