Will your online degree be valuable to employers? Will credits from your online courses transfer to another school? Will your chosen online program offer a meaningful educational experience? The issue of college accreditation is central to answering all of these questions. This week, we’ll be answering the most frequently asked questions about attending accredited online colleges, the application process, online college tuition, the financial aid available, degree options and more.
FAQs About Accreditation
Are accredited online colleges respected?
Online education has become accepted by much of mainstream America. Many long-established traditional campuses now offer accredited online degrees. These include institutions such as Ivy League campuses, state universities, and community colleges. Some schools, such as the University of Maryland, even require their on-campus students to enroll in a number of online courses.
Often these schools do not distinguish between their online and on-campus degree programs when issuing diplomas. This means that an employer won’t necessarily know if you earned your MBA online or in a classroom.
Online-only schools are now available too. Like traditional schools, they vary in quality and reputation. To guide your decision-making, talk with your employer or a career counselor. Find out which accredited online colleges are respected among people you’d like to work with.
Which degrees are available through online colleges?
Accredited online schools offer the same degrees as traditional community colleges, colleges, and universities. Students can earn an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s, or a doctorate. Non-degree certificate options are also available.
Nowadays, it’s possible to study almost every college subject online. Business and education are two popular options. Programs in the following categories are also plentiful:
Of course, adequate preparation for some professions requires face-to-face interaction and long hours in laboratories, studios, or other learning settings. Programs that combine online learning with other learning formats are referred to as hybrid or blended programs.
When does the online school year begin?
Many online schools follow the traditional semester patterns (fall semester, spring semester, and summer semester). However, an advantage of some online schools is their year-round scheduling. It’s possible to start online learning at any time of year.
How do I apply to an online college?
Most online colleges prefer that applicants apply online. If you are given the option to apply online or through the mail, apply online if possible. This will help demonstrate that you are comfortable using the computer.
Some online applications are more rigorous than others. If the school is not at all competitive, you might simply provide personal information in order to enroll. In most cases though, you’ll need to provide: letters of recommendation; personal essays; standardized test scores; and transcripts from high school and college, if applicable. If you are applying to a program in the arts, you’ll probably need to submit a portfolio of your creative work or audition on campus.
The application process for competitive schools requires many hours of thoughtful work. It’s recommended that people apply to at least five schools – including a safety school, a dream school, and some reasonable possibilities — and it’s important that they spend time writing and revising responses to the essay questions on each school’s application.
Will I need special computer equipment to get a degree online?
Probably not. Most accredited online colleges simply require students to use computers with reasonably up-to-date processing speeds and a high-speed internet connection. If special software is needed to view lectures or interact with the classroom, it is usually available through a free download.
What types of learning formats do accredited online colleges offer?
Online degree programs use a variety of learning formats. Some programs are 100% online. This includes the application process, enrollment, listening to lectures, interacting with classmates, submitting homework, taking exams, and receiving grades.
However, many nominally 100% online programs require a bit of an on-campus presence. For example, some online programs require students to travel to campus to take proctored final exams or to defend their theses. They might also require an on-campus orientation, although most conduct their orientations online.
Many accredited online college courses are advertised as hybrids. These use a mix of online learning and other formats, such as traveling to campus for face-to-face learning or meeting at an interactive television (ITV) center. Some online colleges establish numerous ITV sites across certain geographic regions. These let students and professors virtually interact but require less of a commute by distant students.
It’s also possible to combine traditional on-campus courses with online-only courses in the same degree program.
This article originally appeared on accreditedonlinecolleges.net.
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