If you have completed your bachelors degree, you may be looking for something more to help you obtain those hard to reach jobs in your field. Some graduates holding a bachelor's degree might feel like they are part of a pool of too many applicants and are seeking something extra to offer, while others may simply wish to get the most of their educational experience.
There are many ways that you can extend your opportunities in the field. One of the most preferred methods is through enrolling in and finishing an online masters degree. The online masters degree can provide you with exactly what it says - mastery!
Some career fields may require a minimum of a masters degree - especially those that require licensure prior to working in the field. The online masters degree can help you communicate your knowledge and experience in the field without a lot of formal conversation or explanation. If you are interested in becoming more qualified for positions in the field, this could be a great way to get started.
The rise in interest in online masters programs may be due in part to how far society has come with the use of technology. You use the internet for paying bills, communicating with people all over the world, catching up on the news, and even learning random facts. Why would you not use it for education?
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Up until recently, some people were skeptical about changing from the norm of traditional education. With increasing quality standards and accreditation, online masters programs may be quickly growing into one of the most preferred ways to obtain this degree. If you want to learn more about this incredible degree program, you should read more in our guide below. Our team of educational researchers has pulled facts about online masters programs in order to educate and inform you of what to expect. As you read through this guide, try to consider whether or not an online masters degree could be the right fit for what you are aimed at accomplishing in your future.
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What to Expect in an Online Masters Program
You know that the online masters program can help you when seeking jobs in the field, but you should learn more about what this degree program is like prior to ever filling out the application. Most online masters programs were designed to help you focus specifically on your major rather than adding in any extra general education courses like the online bachelors. The curriculum in the online masters program can prepare for you licensure testing, field experience, and even doctoral-level training beyond this program.
Once you are enrolled in an online masters program, you can choose from part-time or full-time enrollment status. Some colleges even allow students to engage in unique formats in which 1 class is taken at a time, lasting 10 weeks per course. This method of instruction can allow you to work quickly through your curriculum without having to focus on more than one course at a time.
You should choose an enrollment status that works for your schedule but still maximizes your ability to complete a degree program quickly. There can be varying components of your online masters program depending on the subject area that you have chosen for your degree. Some online masters programs are completely online, while others may require some in-person requirements throughout the entire experience. These are all factors that you should be aware of prior to enrolling.
Check out some of the components of online masters programs available today below.
- Research: In a lot of online masters programs, students are given the opportunity to engage in research within their study area. This can include learning about how proper research is conducted, as well as the development of an individual research plan. This layout can vary depending on your university, but typically requires you to choose a research topics, gather information and resources, and provide an in-depth research paper on your target.
- Discussions: Another common find in online masters programs is class discussion boards. Typically, your instructor will post a topic or 2 each week and allow you to expand on it. As a course requirement, you may have to go in and comment on the discussion posts of others in your course, in order to evoke further thought into the information provided.
- Assessments: While some colleges require students to complete examinations at a proctored site, there are many online programs that allow students to complete their exams and assessment from their very own home. These tests may be timed or require you to expand on your answers in order to receive full credit. This part of the course is to show that you are gaining meaningful knowledge from the curriculum being provided.
- Practicum/Intensives: In addition to course work and testing, you may be required to engage in a practicum requirement or on-campus intensive. These requirements are more common in degree programs that lead to licensure, such as nursing or counseling, but can sometimes be found in standing online masters program with no licensure requirement.
Online Vs. Traditional Programs
Over the years, academics have chosen to pursue higher level degrees in an effort to become experts in their fields and obtain the best positions available. The curriculum of these programs may constantly undergo growth and change as researchers discover more about each field, as well as the platform they are offered in. In recent years, the trend towards online education has shown a tremendous growth. More students are seeking out convenient options for their education, quicker routes to career success, and methods to maintain an income throughout the entire process.
These are some of the reasons that online masters programs can be such as great option for those moving towards this educational level. In the online environment, students can attend classes at their own pace and on their own time. Online masters programs can provide you with a basic outline of each course, which allows you to study each topic, complete homework, and participate in discussions before your due date. There are no restrictions that direct you when to log in to the system, meaning you can log in at any time of day that works for you.
Online degree programs can also hold the same accreditation as traditional learning programs, making them a great choice for students interested in reliable and reputable online programs. Traditional degree programs have long been a primary preferences for college students. This may be due to the fact that there were really no feasible alternatives to chose from, or that offered alternatives withstood the test of time. The traditional format of masters programs have involved direct instruction via in-person course classes. This required students to step away from their responsibilities and careers in order to obtain this level of education.
Some students still choose to pursue the traditional path for their education. This has long been a reliable way to gain an education, especially for students that are newly out of high school or undergraduate programs. As society has grown to be more demanding and the cost of living continues to rise, students may have to develop alternate strategies to advance their careers while still pursuing a higher degree. People that already have full-time jobs may have no option but to pursue online education. If you are one of the many people that are in need of extreme flexibility, you might benefit more from enrollment into an online masters program.
Applying from Start to Finish
Submit Your Application
The first step towards enrolling in an online masters program is to complete your online application for acceptance. Most online schools and universities can quickly direct you to the online application by visiting their website. This application may ask questions about your residential status, previous schools, and general personal information to set up your file. Most online applications will not be consider complete until all supporting documentation listed below is received.
Provide Proof of Undergraduate Education
The first and most important step to becoming accepted into an online masters program is the previous completion of a bachelors program. Some masters programs have requirements for undergraduate education, so you should be sure that your undergraduate degrees meets all of the prerequisite requirements of your program prior to applying. Most schools will accept a copy of your diploma along with official transcripts from the university that you achieved it from.
Submit Test Scores
At the masters level, students may also be required to complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Some online masters programs do not require you to complete these exams prior to enrolling, so you should definitely review the requirements of your intended program prior to setting up the test. If your program does require either of these exams, you should send in your test results at your time of application.
Send Letters of Recommendation/Transcripts/Complete Essays
Finally, students seeking entry into online masters programs must provide the right paperwork in order to become enrolled. Most universities offering online masters programs require that students submit 2 to 3 letters of recommendation, official transcripts from all schools attended, and possibly a completed essay regarding educational and career intent. Your school can vary on what they require, so you should better prepare by becoming knowledgeable about what is required prior to applying.
Common Completion Times for the Online Masters
The introduction of online masters programs has changed the face of masters education as a whole. Students that pursued their masters degree through traditional means may have spent 2-3 years attending classes in person and indulging in supervised practicum experiences. Since online masters programs have been available the completion times for these programs have been reduced at some schools, which can result in quicker entry into the field for students that are interested in a quick result from their hard work.
Some online masters programs still hold true to the 2-3 year completion expectation.
Students that are willing to move at a steady pace throughout their degree program may be satisfied with this time frame, especially in cases where students are employed full-time and working through a program. Others interested in quickly transitioning might be more satisfied with programs that have been reduced to 18 months – 2 years. While these programs might be the most popular, it does not end here.
Students may even find certain online masters programs that can be completed in as little as 1 year. When you choose the field that you would like to pursue for your program, you should research shorter programs to see what is available for you to choose from. In the online domain, students may have more convenience options available in addition to the online curriculum.
Typical Costs of an Online Masters
Online masters programs can be found in large numbers in states all over the country. Masters programs in varying disciplines can assist you with gaining more knowledge and experience within your field that could potentially lead to higher paying careers in your future. For some people, the costs of these programs can make a difference in whether or not their time is worth the effort.
While you review the tuition rates for your selected program, you should also consider any fees that may be assessed during your program as well as the cost of books. There are many different ways that you can find assistance in paying for your online masters degree.
Some students choose to fill out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) each year in order to obtain federal loans to help cover the costs of their program, while other students seek out scholarship opportunities within their local area or through state organizations interested in providing assistance to upcoming professionals. Our team encourages you to seek out scholarship opportunities specific to your skills or for the field you intend to pursue as part of your collegiate planning.
The tuition rates listed below are for popular schools that offer online masters programs in different specialty areas. Some colleges that offer lower tuition rates may charge you a higher rate for being enrolled part-time. Factors such as this one describe why it is so important to compare the prices of different colleges prior to making your final decision. Check out the tuition rates our team has provided below.
- Purdue University: $550 per credit hour for full-time students
- American Public University: $350 per credit hour for full-time students
- Austin Peay State University: $355 per credit hour for full-time students
Important Points to Consider
As you make the decision to pursue higher education through online programs, you should always consider the accreditation of your degree. If you plan to become licensed or pursue even higher degree programs in the future, accreditation can quickly become an important part of that process. Accreditation can provide you with a sense of confidence in your school and program, since these types of programs are under regular review from accreditation agencies for accuracy and utility.
While considering the costs of these online masters programs can be an important step to ensuring that you are satisfied with your program, you should also consider the time it will take you to complete your program and any in-person requirements for each program. Some universities may require that you attend in-person at some points throughout your program, which may be difficult to achieve if you were not already planning for it.
Schools and Programs Offering Online Masters Degrees
In the final stages of your decision to pursue an online masters degree, you may be sorting through different universities trying to decide which one is the best for you. If you have confirmed accreditation, are satisfied with prices ranges, and have your selection narrowed down by completion times, you may be left with simply preference. Our team has acknowledged the need for advice and support at this stage, since this is such a huge decision that could positively influence your career and your future.
In our list below, you can check out some popular and reliable online masters programs that would be great for you to choose.
- The University of Denver: Online Masters in Business, Criminal Justice, Nursing, and Public Administration
- Middle Tennessee State University: Online Masters in Criminal Justice, Business, and Education
- North Carolina State University: Online Masters in Engineering and Education