Get Your Degree Online

Published Date
01 - Aug - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - Aug - 2005
 
Get Your Degree Online
E-learning is already big and is set to become bigger. You're probably familiar with the concept of e-learning and the possibility of getting degrees online. There are several things that come to mind: is it really possible to get a degree online, from the comfort of your home? What's the catch? Which universities can I apply to? Are there any North American niversities out there that I can join? Are online degrees as good and authoritative as their offline equivalents?

The W5H Of Online Degrees
Kicking off with the 'what' of online degrees, we're talking about getting a full-fledged degree or diploma online. There are certifications and other types of programmes as well, but we will concentrate on degrees and diplomas. These degrees or diplomas are indeed as 'good' as their offline equivalents-of course, with the caveat that the university you 'attend' online is good, too.

A word of caution: if you've heard about a programme through unsolicited e-mail, treat it as spam. While we can't rule out the possibility that the mail could be about a legitimate institution, it's likely to be some form of scam. You could end up receiving fake degrees and credentials.

Now, what can you study online? If you conduct a thorough search online, you're likely to find every-and we mean every-subject that you can think of, from psychology to zoology to business administration to philosophy. Some degrees are more popular than others, and will figure more often. You can also get Bachelors and Masters Degrees, PhDs, and more types of degrees and diplomas than you knew existed!
Next, 'where' can you study? From the comfort of your home, of course! (Or from the comfort of your office, if you don't tell your boss about it, and if you have enough time on your hands.) You can also study while travelling, if you're pressed for time.

'Why' online? There are various reasons as to why one would need to  take up an online educational programme. First of all, there's the 'study abroad' factor: if you cannot afford to go to the US or Canada or Australia or the UK, and want a 'foreign' degree, getting it online is your best bet.

Then, there's the time factor: you can't take a sabbatical from work, and you need to study while working. Or, you may have completed part of your college, left mid-way to start working, and now feel it's time to complete your education-your work experience and previous college education will also fetch you credits. And then, there's the prospect of enhancing your work skills, and if your lucky enough, your employer is willing to pay for a certification-so you sign up for an online course, and at the same time continue working. Some employers will even pay your course fees for a full-fledged degree programme, including an MBA.

'When' do you enrol? Most online universities (including the online departments of regular universities), allow students to enrol at several points of time throughout the year. While some colleges open admissions thrice in a year, others may do so as often as six times. And, as you've probably guessed, online means the time shouldn't matter-ideally, you should be able to enrol on any given day! However, there are a few restrictions due to which institutions allow you to enrol only at specific times of the year.

'How' does it work? It's simple-course material is brought to you via the Web, e-mail, video-conferencing, and also by written material delivered to your doorstep. Generally, you study at your own pace, but there's usually a timeframe within which you must complete your degree requirements.

Examinations are usually open-book and online. Admission is given on the basis of your prior educational qualifications and work experience-your physical transcripts are formally evaluated by the institution, or by an agency appointed by the institution. Many institutions require you to be employed in order to take courses online.
Finally, the 'who': Digit cannot, naturally, make any claims for the universities or institutions mentioned, because none of us have obtained degrees from any of these places. Read on for a sampler of some of the places from where you can obtain a degree.

Remember, before beginning an online degree programme, it's important to ask about the institution's and the degree's accreditations. This is because you need to be sure that you will be furnished with a degree that is recognised by employers and universities after the completion of your course. Accreditation can be done by national and regional organisations, however, national accreditation is more prestigious.

Here's are some aspects you should consider before deciding to get a degree online:
Online classes require as much work as offline ones. Do you have the time? Don't be under the impression that just because you don't have to attend classes, you'll require less time.

Will you be motivated enough to study without professors and classes to urge you on? And will you have the discipline to do it?

What about your finances? Will the degree be worth it, in terms of career advancement and/or the possibility of further studies?

Whether videoconferencing is there or not, how important is face-to-face contact with a professor to you?

If you really need that degree, and in your present circumstances, cannot attend a 'real' university, consider yourself lucky if you answered positively to all the above. Here are some institutions we picked:

American Public University System (www.apus.edu)
The American Public University System is a private higher-education community comprising two online learning institutions: American Public University and American Military University.

Serving over 12,000 students worldwide, APUS welcomes international students. There are over 150 programmes, and you can get an Associate Degree, a Bachelor's Degree, or even a Masters Degree. There are also some Certificate Programmes available.

APUS is accredited by the Distance Education And Training Council. To get into a Bachelor's program, APUS requires the online application and orientation be completed, followed by sending in high-school transcripts or diplomas. APUS will review previous college coursework for potential credit towards the degree.

Bachelors programmes range from Aerospace to Business Administration to Management to Marketing to Philosophy. In fact, American Public University has one of the widest ranges of programmes available.

Fees are $750 per 3-credit course, and the Bachelors degree requires 120 credit hours. That works out to approximately Rs 13 lakh. For more information see http://snipurl.com/enhance1.
Washington State University (http://distance.wsu.edu)
Washington State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges. It is also a member of the National University Continuing Education Association, and is listed in the official publications of the US Office of Education and the State Department of Public Instruction.

Bachelor's degrees available for international students include the Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences, Humanities, and Criminal Justice. The BA in Business Administration includes a Management and Operations major with an emphasis on Organisation Management, and a Management Information Systems (MIS) major. There are several other courses; for details see http://distance.wsu.edu/degrees.

WSU's degrees can be pursued completely online. Visit http://snipurl.com/enhance2 for information on admission procedures. WSU, however, requires you to have TOEFL certification. Undergraduate tuition for international students is $402 (Rs 17,500) per credit hour. For more details, see http://snipurl.com/enhance3.

University Of Massachusetts Online (www.umassonline.net)
UMassOnline has a very user-friendly site. It's one of the top-ranked universities in the US. To apply to their undergraduate programmes, visit http://continuinged.uml.edu, under 'Miscellaneous Forms' and complete the form. You'll need to have your previous college or university send them an official copy of your transcripts too. UMass will then send you a worksheet delineating those courses that have received transfer credit.

They accept a maximum of 30 transfer credits towards an associate degree, and a maximum of 90 transfer credits towards a Bachelors degree, 60 of which may come from a two-year institution. Once enrolled in a program, UMassOnline has a procedure titled 'Credit by Exam'. A student may petition their programme co-ordinator, providing proper documentation indicating their proficiency in a course or courses.

Based on the discretion of the programme coordinator, this documentation may include a letter indicating proficiency, appropriate certificates earned through a training programme, or an actual course examination. The student is required to pay the tuition for one credit to earn the three course credits.

Online course tuition is $825 per 3-credit course. That works out to approximately Rs 14.4 lakh for a four-year Bachelors degree.

The University Of Luton Business School (http://snipurl.com/enhance5)
An MBA offered by the University of Luton through the British Council is an attractive option. It's an 18-month programme at the British Council's Managed Learning Zone (MLZ) in New Delhi. The British Council provides support including:

  • A three-day induction workshop at the MLZ in Delhi
  • A voice-to-voice interactive seminar package that gives students tutorial support directly from the staff throughout each semester
  • Luton will also engage local facilitators to meet students for peer group discussions and help clarify doubts-these weekend sessions are held at the British Council.
  • University of Luton lecturers provide a 'Flying Faculty' service, which delivers short overviews of each module, at the British Council in Delhi.
  • All learning material needed for each module are available on CD-ROM, which gives easy-to-follow sections related to the topics and areas of study to be covered.
  • Students will use the university's virtual learning environment, which enables the student to communicate with both the tutor and fellow students.
The course is unique because it provides full interactive support. It costs about Rs 2.8 lakh.

University Of Phoenix Online (http://snipurl. com/enhance6)
Although the University of Phoenix is well-known for spamming, there's nothing illegitimate about it. UOP offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees.

To enter an undergraduate programme, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent, be at least 21 years of age, and be employed. If you are not employed, you must have "access to an organisational environment that allows you to apply the concepts you learn in our courses". As part of your admission, your prior coursework, elective classes, and major studies will be considered for academic credit. If you have had professional training, you may be able to convert previous experience into academic credits.

You will retrieve lectures, questions and assignments from your instructor, and review them offline. Throughout the class, your instructor will also provide guidance and feedback on your progress.

All courses are offered one-at-a-time. Each course lasts five to six weeks, and if you need to take a break at any time, you can. Fees at UOP online are high, though-undergraduate fees are $460 (Rs 20,000) per credit hour, compared to $250 (Rs 10,900) per credit hour at the APU. To see the complete list of courses offered, please visit http://snipurl. com/enhance4.

Do write in and tell us if you are already pursuing a degree online so we can share this knowledge with more of our readers!



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