A Master’s degree is worth over$2 million in earnings over a lifetime. Thus, it goes without saying that it’s a good investment to continue your education. And now it’s easier than ever to earn your advanced degree, as many colleges and universities have begun offering Master’s programs online.
When it’s time to pick the right program, there are a few things to consider. Not only do you need to pick the right subject, but you need to find the program and school that’s right for you. And with a little research, you may find that an online degree program is the perfect option. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of an online Master’s degree program:
Pro #1: Convenience
Between work, family and friends, many people who may want to continue their education simply aren’t able to due to an already hectic schedule. Online education allows you to work at your own convenience and set your own hours. Whether you take your classes at 6 A.M. or at midnight, the choice is yours.
Pro #2: Not Bound by Geography
No longer are we limited to the schools in our neighborhood or forced to move cross-country. Many of the nation’s top rated universities offer complete Master’s degree programs online. You can now obtain a high quality degree from a renowned university on the other side of the country without moving. A student in Maine can achieve their dream of becoming a teacher by earning an MAT degree from USC, a student from Texas can earn a Master’s in Sports Administration from the University of Northeastern or even an MBA degree online from the University of North Carolina — and neither has to move away from their hometown.
Pro #3: Cost
For top quality online Master’s degree programs, you’ll still have to pay the same tuition as your on-campus peers — but you’ll save on commuting to and from a campus every day, and you’ll also sidestep the cost of relocating. You won’t have to worry about parking and you’ll have the convenience of eating meals at home. If you have children, you’ll even save on childcare costs since you can work on assignments around your child’s schedule.
Con #1: Reputation
While many accredited colleges and universities offer great online degree programs, there are others who lack accreditation, giving online education a negative stigma. Some online schools have even been labeled “degree mills,” charging a hefty fee in tuition while offering sub-standard education. So check your school’s accreditation before enrolling, ensuring your degree is coming from a university that has been accredited by one of the six regional accrediting organizations.
Con #2: Lack of Individual Attention
While it’s great to be able to attend class and work on assignments in your pajamas or at 11 P.M., it can also be very isolating. Some students need the one-on-one attention they’d receive in a traditional classroom environment. For some, the isolation can also be a hindrance in motivation when there isn’t an actual classroom and peers to help keep you motivated. That’s why it’s important to choose a program that has synchronous interactions — meaning they have in-class video chats and real time group activities — and one in which the student-to-faculty ratio is what you would expect from a normal, on-campus class. This will ensure that your professor will still be able to give you individual attention and have open office hours.
Con #3: Credit Transfers
This can be eliminated by doing your homework beforehand and checking your school policies, but if you think you may want to transfer to another school, not all online schools credits will transfer to a traditional college or university. To avoid such a dilemma, look for schools that don’t differentiate their courses by on-campus and online. Not only is this an indication that the caliber of classes you’re taking online are just as good as the ones offered on-campus, but it will help you avoid credit transfer issues.