Having an advanced degree can make a significant difference when searching for employment, and it can impact your lifelong earning potential.  But going to college, even on-line, requires a significant investment in both time and money, so prospective students need to be aware of all of the options and questions to ask to ensure they are making an informed decision.  The Morning Call offers tips to help working adults find the best value when choosing where to get an advanced degree.

1.  Have a career goal in mind, and choose a degree program accordingly.  Demand in fields such as information technology, teaching, business, and nursing continues to grow in comparison to other occupations.

2.  Determine how you like to study and learn.  You can choose from a more traditional academic model with instructor-led classes and courses delivered via the Internet or opt for competency-based learning.  Traditional models require students to earn credits based on time in class.  The competency-based model allows students to advance at their own pace by demonstrating their knowledge in required subject areas.  Rather than attending classes, students work through course materials using mentor-guided independent study.

3.  Take stock of your personal situation to determine whether you have the time and motivation to pursue a degree.  Quality programs are rigorous and require goal oriented learners, and you should be able to devote at least 15 hours per week to your studies.  As you evaluate the different universities, you’ll want to factor in things like scheduling flexibility and student resources and support.

4.  There are several things to consider when evaluation the quality and credibility of an online university.  Be sure to ask about:

  • Accreditation.  The university should be accredited by one of the major accrediting commissions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.  In addition, individual programs like teaching and nursing should have special accreditation’s.
  • Curriculum development.  Courses of study and materials should be developed using input from and review by business and industry experts.  These experts should be reviewing curriculum regularly to ensure that it stays relevant and up-to-date.
  • Employer feedback.  You want to make sure that your degree will be respected by employers.  Ask about surveys or other feedback from employers who have hired graduates from the university you are considering.
  • Student feedback.  Ask for information regarding student and graduate satisfaction.
  • Online buzz.  Check blogs, websites, and social media sites to learn more about the university, its strengths and weaknesses and its student community.

Use these tips to help you determine where to get the most value when choosing a university for your advanced degree.  Doing the proper research will ensure you receive a quality degree in your field of choice.  If you have other tips, please mention them below!


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