Masters Degree Online

Welcome to Masters Degree Online, your ultimate source for information on online graduate study. Online education is booming, and it can be the perfect fit for many students, especially those already employed and seeking to upgrade their skills or change careers. This site offers a helpful guide through the entire process of pursuing a master’s degree online, from considering your initial needs to what to do after graduation.

Our resources do not end with graduation. You can read interviews with online master’s students in all walks of life, and learn from their experiences and challenges, informing your own studies. We also provide a guide to estimating the value of a master’s degree in the current economy, and how to balance the cost of study with your future earning potential. We discuss the vital topic of accreditation—the certification needed to show that your school is a legitimate institution, where your needs are met and your investment is protected. Want to find the ideal online master’s degree program? We also offer a guide to finding the ideal school for your needs. We even inventory the most valuable master’s degree programs in terms of increased income.Earning a master’s degree requires you to hold a bachelor’s degree, and takes between one and three years to earn. Part-time study is also an option, although it will take longer to complete your degree in this way. Usually, you will specialize in a particular field, mastering its intricacies and conducting new research on a specific topic. Specialized professional programs, like a Master of Business Administration (MBA) are available as well.

According to the U.S. Census of 2010, earning a master’s degree will increase your earnings by an average of $12,000 per year as compared to bachelor’s degree holders. Many careers and positions require a master’s degree, and it’s even been said that the master’s degree is the new bachelor’s. Know that all master’s degree coursework is demanding, and online study won’t be easier than offline study. While so-called “degree mills” selling useless diplomas do exist, legitimate and accredited online master’s degree programs are every bit as academically rigorous and demanding as those you would earn attending a traditional school’s brick-and-mortar program. Read through the guide to see what it’s like to get a master’s degree online and determine if distance learning is the right path for you.

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The Basics

Learn about the essentials of seeking a master’s degree online in this chapter, which introduces the rest of the guide. This chapter guides you through what master’s degrees are, and what they can do for you in financial and professional terms. It also introduces the challenges you will face in a master’s program, including coursework, research, comprehensive examinations, practicums, and internships. You will receive guidance on how to best approach your master’s degree studies, planning them to best fit your career goals, work-life balance, and financial situation. Pursuing a master’s degree is a major commitment, and the better informed you are, the better decisions you will make.

Pros and Cons

This chapter focuses on the benefits and drawbacks of studying for your masters' degree online. The advantages include accessibility to your courses, flexibility in your study hours, independence from a demanding class schedule, and a more diverse set of colleagues. You may, in many cases, also save money by studying online, even when the cost of a personal computer and Internet access is factored in. You will also read about the challenges your online study will face, including how to handle the perception that your degree is somehow less valid and the challenges you will face by being physically removed from your professors and institution.

A Field of Study

Even with the savings from online study, a master’s degree is a major investment. This chapter helps you narrow down what you want to study so that your online masters degree will be in the career you want to pursue. Many people who earn a master's in business and education did not initially major in those fields as undergraduate students, but came to them later. We also introduce the different sorts of master’s degree programs available online and advise you on the few subjects, such as educational counseling, which do not have available accredited programs.

The Application Process

Take the mystery out of the college applications process with the help of this chapter. Most online master’s degree programs have requirements comparable to those of traditional schools, and we provide you with an adaptable timeline that you can use to plan when you intend to take standardized aptitude tests, when to start filling out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms, and other milestones in the process. You will also find guidance on preparing your writing sample and statement of purpose, practicing for interviews, and scoring letters of recommendation from teachers and professional contacts. The process takes months, so it pays to prepare early.

GRE vs. No GRE

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is often a major part of master’s program applications, but the prospect of your future resting on a standardized test can be daunting. We will give you the facts on the GRE. For example, many programs do not require it, and others will waive the requirement if your grade-point average as an undergraduate was high enough. Explore the three main sections of the GRE as well as the eight subject tests in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, English literature, psychology, physics, and mathematics. Finally, learn exactly what the scores you receive mean, and how they compare to those of the average applicant.

The Best Program

What is the best program for you? Online master’s degree programs come in many forms, and while all of them center on Internet-based instruction, the requirements and details vary. Explore the advantages and disadvantages of residencies, blended or hybrid programs that combine occasional on-campus meetings with regular instruction, and the distinctions between synchronous and asynchronous courses. Master’s programs, whether online or brick-and-mortar style, also build a close relationship between a relatively small group of students and instructors. You will get advice on how to build good relationships with your instructors, as well as how to find instructors and programs suited to your own specific academic interests.

Accreditation

You should only attend an accredited institution. This is common knowledge, but why is it so important? Accreditation of your online school is one of the things that will most help convince employers that your online degree is legitimate, and this chapter introduces you to the two main kinds of academic accreditation in the United States. Institutional accreditation certifies that a school has sufficient teachers, resources, and a record of graduating students. Specialized accreditation certifies that the school's online program is excellent in a specific field, such as counseling or social work. You will find easy-to-use resources to confirm the accreditation status of whatever school you prefer.

Program Variations

Online master’s degree programs vary in how they present instruction. Here, you will learn more about the differences between for-profit and non-profit institutions, as well as a guide to avoiding unaccredited for-profit institutions. Other highlights include comparison of purely online instruction versus hybrid courses which feature occasional trips to a local campus, the advantages of being able to set your own academic pace (whether accelerated or part-time), and the ups and downs of the thesis option, which requires you to complete a piece of independent research in order to earn your degree, as compared to professional programs where a thesis is optional or not offered.

The Classroom Experience

Your online master's degree studies will take place wherever you take your, but you will still need to "attend" your classes. This chapter elaborates on the differences between synchronous learning, such as videoconferencing, and asynchronous learning, which occurs at your own pace. You can also find tips on how to best correspond with your instructors through e-mail and how to take advantage of student discounts on books, equipment and software you will need for your courses through your institution's libraries and resource departments.

Secrets for Success

There is no way to guarantee learning without effort, but this resource should help make your school days easier. First, we will show you how to ask for help from instructors or other students. Next, you will be guided in determining what sort of learning style you have, whether you are a visual learner or someone who learns through hearing or physically practicing tasks. Tips are also provided on how to manage stress, establish a regular routine of study and class participation, and balance work, school, and family life. Finally, you will learn about the comprehensive exams that many master’s degree programs require as a condition of graduation.

The Thesis

A frequent element of many master’s degree programs, the thesis is a paper that tests your knowledge of your field and your ability to conduct research and write persuasively. You will learn more about how to develop your topic and work productively with your thesis advisor, as well as how to design courses of research and, in some fields, experiments to gather original data. You will learn how to handle writing your thesis by breaking it into smaller chunks through detailed outlining, as well as how to conduct a thesis defense, answering the critique of your thesis by your instructors through video-conferencing and other methods.

After Graduation

What will you do with your master’s degree? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fastest-growing jobs requiring a master's were mental health and substance abuse counselors, but there are few accredited online programs in these fields - an example of how you should thoroughly research your field before committing to a program. You will learn how to present your degree to employers in the private sector or transition to a PhD program. You will also get candid information on the repayment options on any loans you may have incurred to finance your online master’s studies, including extended and graduated repayment plans and your options for consolidating debt.

Features

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