Educators who seek career advancement and a master's degree have options. While some teachers can take a work sabbatical to attend on-campus classes, most need to keep working while pursuing their goals.
A recent study by the Babson Survey Research Group places the number of graduate students taking at least one distance (online) education course at more than one million, and this number is growing every year. Here are five things to know about online master's degree programs:
1. Convenience and Flexibility
The online format is perfect for students who need to continue working while they pursue the degree. Most programs offer multiple start dates throughout the year, allowing you to enroll when you're ready. When you study online, you can arrange your study time however you want.
If you have time in the evening or on the weekends, or if you're an early riser and want to study in the wee hours, you can access your classes, lessons and study materials 24/7. When you're not tied to a specific schedule and you don't have to show up at an on-campus classroom, you can work on your studies when it's most convenient for you.
Colleges and universities that offer both on-campus classes and online classes generally charge about the same tuition per credit hour. With online classes, the savings are realized in not having to travel to campus, live on or near campus, or pay for fees like campus security, campus recreation, student health, athletics, student legal services, etc. However, more and more schools are offering online master's degree programs at a significantly lower cost than on-campus programs.
3. Self-Paced Learning
Some courses require more study time than others, and some students have busier work and personal schedules than others. Being able to take as many or as few courses as your schedule allows makes it possible for you to achieve your goal at your own pace.
If you're a teacher with more free time in the summer, you can enroll in more courses during the summer semester, and take fewer courses during your academic school year.
4. Interaction and Networking
Online programs excel in this area. A number of forums, including chat rooms, message boards, webinars, email and instant messaging, allow students to interact at any time, day or night. Professors often engage with students online during "off" hours, and students get to know one another through communication, partnering and group activities. Online cohorts can be very diverse, and networking opportunities exist that not only enhance the "classroom" experience, but also offer practical applications outside of school activities.
5. Accreditation and Faculty
More and more institutions with regional- or national-level accreditation are offering online programs. Look for information on a school's online program that explains its accreditations, approvals and certifications.
In many cases, the online courses are taught by the same professors who teach on campus, and they feature educators with advanced degrees and many years of experience. Choosing a school with recognized accreditation and a strong teaching faculty assures you of the quality of the education you will receive and the respect your degree will command.
Learn more about TAMIU's online Master of Science programs in Education.
Sources:Babson Survey Research Group: Grade Increase -- Tracking Distance Education in the United States
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