How to Select an Online Degree Program

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by JoshD, Jun 9, 2021.

  1. JoshD

    JoshD Well-Known Member

    I see questions here quite often from new members curious about how to select an online degree program. I wanted to create a thread about how to go about researching the field, narrowing the programs, and finally, selecting a program. This is a fluid thread and I hope others will chime in with their advice in hopes it helps future online degree seekers.

    Researching the Field

    If someone is seeking a degree program for career advancement, career pivot, etc. it is important to research the field/industry prior to pursuing a degree program. You want to learn what is the cutting edge “thing” in that industry and have an idea of where the industry is headed to be able to better determine if a program of interest offers curriculum that aligns well with the future of the field. One suggestion:

    1. LinkedIn Search - See if the program you are interested in has graduates, or current students, in that particular field and reach out to them to get their opinion/thoughts on how the program of interest has prepared them to tackle problems in the industry.

    Narrowing Down Programs of Interest

    After you have got a good idea of where your industry, or industry of interest, is headed in the future, you can begin to narrow down the programs you are interested in. A few, and non-exhaustive, things to help:

    1. Curriculum - Does the curriculum align with where the industry is headed or is the curriculum “out-dated”? This is important to ensure you are staying on top of the leading technologies, strategic frameworks, etc. that could be emerging in your field.

    2. Faculty - Are the faculty members teaching the courses experts in their industry? Do they have academic research experience that has helped further the progress of that field? Do they have professional experience in the field to have an understanding of what works and what does not work, what is important and what is not important, etc? The faculty are going to be a huge proponent of your educational experience and so you want to make certain they have a true gauge for their field and the industry as a whole.

    3. Cost - This factor could very well be the factor someone starts with. The cost of a program is going to be important and online degree programs range from less than $5,000 to in excess of $100,000. What do YOU feel comfortable spending for that degree and experience? Regardless of curriculum and faculty, if the cost is greater than you are willing to spend then it is a moot point to keep a higher priced program on your list of potential programs to pursue a degree at.

    Selecting Your Degree Program

    Making the final decision of where to further your education can be a rather personal decision. There are A LOT of factors that go into making the decision of where you will spend the next 9 months to 3 years (give or take). You want to select the program that YOU feel has the best curriculum, faculty, and price you are comfortable with to help you achieve your academic and professional goals. Through in depth research of programs, it is easier to identify what will, or what will not, work for you in your academic and professional journey.

    Note: If any other members have any other tips, or tricks, to help navigate the process, please feel free to chime in! The more information in this thread, the better!

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