The field of online education has been growing for years, and it’s now easier than ever to obtain a high-quality master’s degree through an online program. However, the process of choosing the best online master’s degree program for your needs requires a little homework in order to make sure you’re matched with the best school.
The first step is to research the schools you’re interested in. This is something you’d do if you planned on attending a traditional college or university, and it’s just as important to learn as much as possible about online degree programs. In fact, kicking the tires on an online institution is often more important, since so many online outlets aren’t actually reputable schools but instead are what’s known as "diploma mills," for-profit businesses designed to rip off students and not provide them with a quality education. Visit U.S. News & World Report and find out what programs are available through accredited and trusted schools. You should also check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the school has received any complaints about faculty, staff, or educational quality.
In order to find the best online master’s degree program for you, it’s also imperative you check the accreditation information for your prospective college or university. Only an accredited university will provide you with a valid education for your tuition, and employers will only really consider you for a job if your master’s degree is from a legitimate institution. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education maintains a database of schools nationwide that have been accredited, as does the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, so run the names of your prospective schools and degree programs through these systems and see what comes up. If the college or university hasn’t been accredited it, scratch it from your list and keep looking.
Additionally, to find the best online master’s degree program for you, focus on just that: you, and your needs. What are you looking for in a degree program? Do you want a work-intensive degree that can be earned sooner than others? Do you prefer a program that lets you work at your own pace? Be sure and consider how much coursework you want to complete each semester and how that will need to be balanced with other obligations like a full-time or part-time job. Don’t forget that some online degree programs require to you to attend class at a certain time every week, while others allow you to log in at your convenience. Decide which set-up best fits your own schedule and needs before committing to a degree program.
Discovering the right master’s degree program for you takes a little work, but by keeping in mind that the program needs to suit your needs, you’ll be able to find the one meant for you.