Online Masters Degree Program Options

There are many different ways to run an online Masters degree program. Purpose of this post is to help familiarize you with some of the different methods of providing instruction in an online environment. This is an exhaustive list but will give you an idea of some of the different ways classes are presented so you can make a more informed choice about where you want to go to school. Some presentation methods may be unsuited for your learning style, so you want to be very careful to choose a school that offers an online environment that will help not hinder your learning.

Pre-recorded Lectures

Prerecorded lectures are a popular way to present content for online masters degree programs. It can mean for professors because they only have to make the class once. The class is recorded and used year after year for students. Honestly this could be one of the best ways to present material because it would allow the professor to carefully edit their lectures and include other types of multimedia that might be difficult to include in the classroom. It can present a very polished lecturer where the professor has time to make the best use of his resources as possible. Usually though that’s not how pre-recorded lectures work. Most of the time it simply a camera running the classroom. Many cases there’s not even the operator behind the camera. Sometimes a prerecorded lecture is actually controlled by the teacher who must flip between the different input sources of the blackboard, the overhead projector, and the camera of him talking.

This type of presentation for an online degree can also be difficult if you’re dealing with things that have a lot of current topics. In some cases the content you are taught to be severely outdated by the time you watch the lecture. Of course this is nothing new. You can have the same thing happen with your textbook. Still, you usually expect your lectures to be able to discuss current topics and prerecorded lectures that may have been recorded years earlier do not give you that capability.

Delayed Lectures

Delayed lectures are often used when the online masters degree program is set up to track actual physical classes. In this case the professor lectures as usual in the classes recorded and put online. The difference is the delay is usually a matter of hours or days. This helps solve the problem of having lectures that are extremely out-of-date because they were done years before. Usually a few days delay is not enough to mess up discussions of current topics.

This is the type of process that Harvard extension school uses. Years ago it was very difficult and expensive to provide this level of service in the classroom. However technology advances have made it this more common in within the reach of many universities with more modest budgets.

Live Lectures

As technology has become more readily available live lectures are possible. In the early days it was too much trouble to try to set everything up and deal with the chances of equipment being down or students being unable to connect to a live stream. However many modern online Masters degree programs are offering live streams of the classes. In some cases you may even be held to interact with the professor through chat window or to your own video conference software.

One of the downsides of a live lecture being broadcast over the Internet when you’re getting an online Masters degree is that it forces you to be somewhere at a particular time. You still have all the benefits of getting rid of your commute time, but one of the biggest benefits of an online Masters degrees the ability to work around your job, family and other types of commitments that would interfere with you needing to be at class at a particular time everyday.

Probably the best option is a live stream that gets archived so you can watch it later if necessary. This gives you the ability to maintain the same schedule as others in your class, but the flexibility to watch a lecture for your online degree a few days later if your schedule requires it.

Video Conference

Some schools are actually offering videoconferencing in order to complete an online Masters degree program. It is very similar to the live streaming but with more interaction by students who are sitting at their computers with video cameras and microphones. This is another area where technology is allowing things that would’ve been difficult just a few years ago. It’s fairly trivial to get a camera and microphone working with your computer for video conferencing nowadays. Many laptops have been built in. This used to be quite an ordeal to set up, but now that the barriers to entry are lower some schools are using this for education to provide as much interaction as possible in their online degree programs.

Live Chat

Some schools don’t even try to use video. Often this was because they didn’t start out with the resources necessarily to stream images to people enrolled in their online degree programs. Some of these require you to log on at a particular time and interact with other students. The student interaction can be a good thing, but some schools try to leverage interaction with other students in lieu of having a good teacher. You want to make sure that you choose an online degree program where the student interaction is supplementing the instruction of the good professor not the other way around.

One of the problems with the online chat is that it requires you to be on at a particular point in time. Once again in this gives you geographic independence but not necessarily the ability to work your online Masters degree into a hectic and fluctuating schedule.


Forms are really the oldest technology that has been used for online masters degree programs. They you to post information and interact with other people in an asynchronous manner. Unlike the live chat you can login at any time to interact with other students who are in your class. While not quite as flashy as the video, these types of setups can be very effective for interacting with other students in your online degree in cases where everyone has busy jobs, hectic schedules, and maybe in completely different time zones.

Forums, when correctly used, can make it very easy to get and ask for help from your peers. By keeping in the forum your interactions are public to the rest of the members of your online degree program. This means you can learn from questions you may not have thought to ask and you can provide answers and insights to questions others may have. Much of the beneficial interactions you would have in a live classroom. On one hand the act of typing out your answer and questions may slow you down. On the other it may help you to think more deeply about the subject and develop writing skills that will benefit you in your career. One of the biggest advantages of using forum software for an online degree program is the fact that it lets people spend more time interacting around the subject than what they can do within the confines of a scheduled class. It can provide much deeper interaction then you can within a typical hour lecture.


Technologies that are being used to help facilitate online degree programs. Many of the more interesting ones are targeting online masters degree programs because they are less concerned about giving master’s degree students the social interactions that are so vital to undergrad students. One area that is just beginning to take off is mobile learning. It won’t be long before students will have the ability to interact with fellow students and watch lectures from their cell phones. On one hand this may be beneficial because it will let people integrate learning more deeply into their daily lives. On the other it provides a very distracting environment for learning a particular subject.

Another area that’s starting to gain some traction as technology use for facilitating online masters degree programs is virtual worlds. Programs like Second Life allow avatars to meet in a virtual space and interact with one another. The effectiveness of such online worlds is still open to debate. However it however it does allow a degree of interaction that is more difficult to do with many of the other options mentioned above.

The important thing is to understand how your learning style is going to be impacted by the classroom presentation technology used by the school you choose. You may want to try taking a class from several different schools before enrolling in a full online Masters degree program just to get an idea of what works well for you and what doesn’t. Ideally you can take some classes that would be needed as prerequisites for the degree you are wanting to pursue. That way you get the benefit of  a solid foundation in your area of study along with the ability to choose a school whose online degree program best fits your learning style.

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Online Masters Degree Benefits

While online degrees aren’t for everyone, there are some significant benefits of getting your degree online.  Here are some of the benefits associated with online education.

Online Master’s Degree Cost

In some cases an online Masters degree may offer a great deal of cost savings. While it’s true that many online to read programs charge a premium in order to pay for the technology that enables the educational process, there are many other expenses that you must consider when you look at going to college.

For some people the cost of going to a traditional university may be very high. Will look at some of the geographic and time issues a little later on. However considered simply the cost of food when going through a traditional university. With an online Masters degree you can do your work from home and so your eating expenses should be as low as possible. If you’re attending a traditional university, going from class to class, and spending time waiting over lunch break for your next class to start your going to need to find something to eat. Obviously you can make lunch and take it with you but even then you’re likely to spend a lot more on food than you will if you’re eating in the comfort of your own home.

Also the cost of being involved socially in a traditional university is going to be much higher than what you’ll encounter with online classes. There are other expenses as well. If you go to a traditional university you may need to invest some money in a new wardrobe, a laptop computer, and a number of other items that may be less expensive when taking classes from home. Parking is another big expense around many traditional universities. And we haven’t begun to consider the cost of gas for transportation.

Now an online Masters degree isn’t always going to work out to be cheaper when you compare it to the cost of a traditional university. However it’s important to make sure you’re considering all the different aspects. The degree that seems most expensive from a tuition and fee standpoint maybe much less expensive when all other factors are accounted for.

Online Master’s Degree as a Timesaver

It’s easy to be so focused on the cost of tuition that you overlook the other costs in getting a college degree. An online Masters degree offers some very significant time-saving benefits. the commute time alone is a very significant investment in a traditional degree. Even if you live only 45 min. away from a traditional university, daily classes would bring your weekly time for commuting to 7 1/2 hours. That’s nearly an entire working day spent driving back and forth in your car.

With an online Masters degree you can free up all this commute time and spend is studying, spending time with your family, or working your day job. In addition to the commute time is rare that you’ll have classes lined up back-to-back at a traditional bricks and mortar school. Chances are you’ll have several or even many classes. While you can put this time to good use by studying it still represents a significant investment in time. It makes it much more difficult to batch all of your lectures together when it’s easy for you to complete them.

With online coursework you are often able to do the work when it’s most convenient for you. That may mean staying up late at night to watch lectures, or spinning your weekends completing your class work. In between your classes you can do whatever you need to instead of sitting around waiting for the next class.

In fact if you add up all the time that will be required by traditional institution that is not required with an online Masters degree you may find you are able to work a full-time job while pursuing an online Masters degree where that would be impossible when pursuing a traditional masters degree.

Geographic Benefits of an Online Masters Degree

Another significant benefit of an online Masters degree is the geographic benefit. Normally you will be limited to only taking classes from schools that are near where you live. Most people who are pursuing a bachelors degree full-time can move away to college. They are at a point in their life or where ties and responsibility prevent them from going to whatever college they choose. However many people pursuing a Masters degree are in the middle of their careers, have families and other commitments, and can’t simply move across the country to be near the school of their choice.

With an online Masters degree you are able to choose from academic institutions regardless of where they are geographically located. This means you can find a school that is the best match for your needs instead of being limited to what is offered by the local university. In some cases an online degree may allow you to attend school where there is no local option even if you’re willing to drive a few hours.

In addition an online degree may offer you the flexibility if you have a heavy travel schedule. If you can’t physically be in a particular place at the same time every day for the next few years an online degree may be a great option to pursue your education without having the geographic constraints imposed by traditional institution.

Opportunity Benefits of an Online Masters Degree

When looking at any type of degree you need to examine the opportunity costs. Basically this involves looking at what type of opportunities you will forgo while pursuing your degree. For example, if you have to take off work for two years you will probably miss many opportunities for advancement, promotion, on-the-job learning, and skills advancement. The opportunity costs of an online degree are often much lower than that of a traditional degree. This is because an online degree may allow you to continue working in some capacity. You don’t have to completely quit your job in order to do online classes at night or on the weekends. You don’t have to stop traveling for your work in order to do your online coursework from your hotel rooms in the evening.

In addition to the opportunities for advancement, the salary you will normally have to forgo with it traditional institution for the time that you are in school can be significant. Coupled with a lackluster job market, the cost of a traditional university education can be staggering and an insurmountable barrier to many people who would like to pursue their education. An online degree conquers many of these hurdles by allowing you to work from wherever you like without disrupting the opportunities you would have available if you were to simply concentrate on work.

The combination of working while going to school can be very powerful. One of the problems with modern college education is the disconnect between what is learned in the classroom and the ability to apply it to real-world situations. Students who have no work experience or are far removed from the work which they are studying may have a difficult time grasping concepts and remembering the things they are taught. On the other hand you and Sue are working while pursuing their education are going to have a much better time applying what they’ve learned because it will be highly relevant and useful.

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Is Capella University a Diploma Mill?

When people start looking at online universities a frequent question comes up: “Is Capella University a diploma mill?”  Capella University advertises heavily online. It should be no surprise that people are interested in Capella but are wary of the quality of the education.

Capella University is not a diploma mill. A diploma mill is a place that will basically sell you a diploma. Capella University requires a great deal of coursework in order to get a degree. A number of students can vouch for how much work is required to get a degree from Capella University.  Capella University is also accredited. It is accredited by the same institutions that accredit state schools. Diploma mills will often create their own little accrediting organization usually somewhere in the Bahamas and claim to be accredited. This is not what Capella University is doing. They are going through the same rigorous process that state schools must adhere to in order to achieve accreditation.

Another common trait of diploma mills is getting college credit for “life experience.” When you look at Capella University you’ll see that they do offer certain types of credit for life experience. However if you dig deeper you’ll find a great difference between the methodology used at Capella and what you will find at a diploma mill. Capella will not let you simply get a degree based on the fact that you had a job for the last five years. However, they will let you get credit toward your degree based on industry training, technical certification, and certain test scores. These credits are limited and can only compose a small amount of your required credits toward your degree. In many cases it will require an assessment test. In many ways this is similar to testing out of the subject at a traditional university.

We’ve established that Cappelli University is not a diploma mill. However, that does not mean they offer good educational value. The biggest advantage of Capella University is the convenience of taking classes online. As more and more state schools offer similar options disadvantage is diminishing rapidly. Furthermore if you look at the cost for degree from Capella University you’ll often find it is one of the most expensive schools you can attend. When you factor in the lower reputation of Capella as a college the value proposition is very low.

That’s not to say Capella is never a good choice for a particular individual. In some cases your employer may have a deal with Capella and offer free or reduced tuition that will help increase the value proposition of their degree. In other cases you may not be able to find a degree with the same level of geographic flexibility in your chosen field. In other cases the reputation of your online school choice may not be a relevant factor. For example if you are working in education and simply need a Masters degree in order to move up in the pay scale, it may not matter where you obtained a degree from.

For people who plan to use a college degree as a stepping stone to further their career, Capella probably should not be their default choice. In some cases it might make sense but they should make sure they put a lot of effort into researching other possible options. In particular they need to be careful not to get a degree with a negative return on investment. Not all jobs pay the same and not all degrees will enable you to get a good paying job. Further some employers are going to be very picky about what schools they hire from. Getting a degree from Capella University will not be particularly useful if you’re going into a field where employers traditionally only hire Ivy League graduates.

One final thing to consider about Capella University is the nature of a for-profit institution. Even if you are happy with the quality of their education today, they are run as a for-profit institution unlike most private and state schools. The reputation of your degree in the future may be greatly influenced by their future Board of Directors. You don’t want to get in a situation where your degree is considered worthless based on the actions of business people 10 years from now. This is less likely to happen at a state school that doesn’t have a profit motive and has more a vested interest in their academic reputation then in their ability to give returns to investors.

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Masters Degree and Signaling

Much of the value of a Masters degree is the signaling it provides. By signaling I mean it gives employers a sign post to help determine what type of employee you would be. On one hand this kind of makes sense. Someone who’s gone through it four years bachelors degree and then completes a two-year masters degree is likely to be someone with stamina and enough endurance to make a good employee.

On the other hand it doesn’t say much about the individuals worth ethic. A Masters jury indicates that you know how to show up for class but that doesn’t mean you’ll make a good employee. Traditionally this type of signaling has worked out well for employees. However the value of a college degree is plummeting as universities seek to make up for deficiencies at the high school level and often end up lowering their standards in order to allow everyone to go to college.

From the standpoint and Masters degree provides an even stronger signal to employers that you aren’t just a student who completed a bachelors to the but you are also capable of completing a Masters degree as well. On one hand this may help show that your the cream of the crop. However Masters reprograms are suffering for many of the same problems that undergraduate programs are running into.

It’s very important to understand that your education is something that is in your own hands area simply putting in your timing getting a Masters degree does not guarantee that you’re going to have the skills you need to compete well in the marketplace. If you want to do well in the business world you’re going to have to put in significant effort at school to not just pass your classes but to become truly educated area universities are wonderful place to learn many things, but the students that do the best are those that really seek out knowledge and try to become more intelligent. Students who simply rely on teachers to feed them information and then spit it back out on the test are not acquiring the full education potential offered at universities.

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Is an Online Masters Degree Good or Bad?

Online Masters degree good or bad? In other words is it worth the convenience of an online degree versus the reputation of a traditional degree. This can be a tough question to answer. There are many different types of online Masters degrees offered and there are many different types of traditional degrees offered by bricks and mortar institutions.

There are a couple different things to consider when assessing the value of a particular degree program. First you should consider the quality of the degree program. In other words how much are you going to learn. Second you should consider the reputation of the school. You need to make sure the school is recognized as a quality academic institution. Third you need to consider the cost of getting the degree. Not all degrees offer a good return on investment.

Quality of Degree

How do you determine the quality of a particular degree program. It can be difficult but is something you pay close attention to before you enroll in a Masters degree program–particularly one where you’re going to spend a great deal of money. Not all schools are good at teaching every single subject. This may be less of an issue on the undergrad level but it’s even more important on the master’s degree level where the core curriculum can vary more from school to school and where the teachers you will be interacting with form a more important part of your education than what happens at the undergrad level.

One of the simplest ways to get an idea about the value of a degree you’re looking at pursuing is to talk to a recruiter. Someone who is in the business of helping companies higher people is going to have a good idea of how degrees are perceived and the quality of education by each one. Given mind that recruiters make money by placing employees and having them stay employed over a period of time. They are going to want to waste their time placing employees with degrees that will make it difficult for them keep their jobs.

Reputation of School

In addition to the value of a particular degree you need to consider the reputation of the school. Not all schools have the same reputation and some schools are known for being good at different things. For example a degree from Harvard University in computer science is probably been to carry less weight than a degree from MIT in the same subject.

One thing in particular to consider is the rise of for-profit schools. A for-profit school plays like slightly different rules than the traditional nonprofit institution a nonprofit school doesn’t have the profit motive so they are usually more concerned about academic reputation of the institution. A for-profit school was concerned about the academic reputation of their schools but mainly as a means toward maximizing profit. That doesn’t mean that a for-profit school should be avoided solely on these facts but is important to consider how their reputation may change in the future–particularly if times get tough and they are looking for ways to maximize their profit by squeezing other areas.

Cost of Degree

There are many factors that play into the cost of the degree. Simply looking at the cost of tuition is very shortsighted. In some cases the cost of tuition may be one of the smaller expenses in actually achieving a degree. You also have the costs of travel, the cost of fees, the cost of books, etc. one thing that is easy to overlook is the opportunity cost of getting a degree. The degree requires you to quit your full-time job you need to factor in the cost of salary that you will be for going during that period. But don’t forget there’s more than just salary involved. Not only will you lose out on the money would’ve been paid during that time. But you also lose out on benefits like vacation time, healthcare, retirement contributions, pension plans, etc. you are also going to miss out on the potential to be promoted during those time periods and there will be a certain cost involved in getting back into the job market after being out getting your degree.

When everything is considered it may be much more cost effective to get a degree from a more expensive institution that has a flexible plan for working adults than it is to go to a less expensive state school that expects you to quit your job in order to pursue your degree. There are many factors involved and can be different for each person but make sure you look at the entire package and how it fits with your life before signing up.

Says you can see from the discussion above it’s hard to say whether an online Masters degree is a good or bad investment. However by considering the three factors mentioned you can help make sure that you are getting a degree that will actually benefit your career and not something that simply costs a lot of money with very little benefit. Keep in mind that in general a particular degree and in particular an online degree is not good or bad. What is good for one person may be bad for another and vice versa. You need to take the time to understand whether a particular online degree is good for your specific situation and find what is the best deal for you personally.

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Master’s Degree ROI

Does a Masters degree offer a good return on investment? Obviously this is a difficult question to answer. There are many factors involved in determining the return on investment from a Masters degree. There also isn’t a simple answer. There are many different things you can get a masters degree in and some are more profitable than others. For example, a Masters degree in social work generally has a low payout. On the other hand a Masters degree in bioengineering may be very lucrative.

Regardless of what field you want to enter it is important to take some time to understand how a Masters degree will impact your ability to get a job and your pay rate within your career choice. Some fields require a masters degree as the minimum barrier to entry. For example if you want to teach at a college you are probably going to need at least a masters degree and very likely a PhD in order to get any type of employment. On the other hand there are many fields where master’s diploma will simply move you to a higher patent level and it isn’t a requirement in order to get a job. Teaching at the grade school, middle school and high school level is an example of this. Masters degrees generally will help you make more money but they aren’t going to be required to get the job.

It’s important to understand how these factors play out in order to determine when the best time to achieve the Masters agree is for your career choice. For example if you want to be an elementary school teacher a Masters degree will allow you to make more money by moving you to a higher pay scale. However if you get a masters degree before you get your first job you may have trouble finding employment because you will be competing against less expensive teachers who do not have a Masters degree. Some school administrators may look at you as overqualified and expensive compared your competition. However, once you have a job, getting a master’s degree may allow you to move to a different pay scale simply by completing the degree. So in the case of a teacher you may want to get a job and pursue some type of part-time Masters degree program in order to up your pay, but you might want to avoid taking two years off work in order to get the degree that they may make it harder for you to find a job not easier.

The cost of getting a Masters degree can very dramatically from one school to the next. Your choice of schools will be greatly influenced by your career needs. If you simply need to get a masters degree in order to move up the pay scale you might want to choose the least expensive school you can find. On the other hand if getting a Masters degree is going to qualify you for jobs that pay a great deal and are highly competitive you may want to consider going to the best school you can possibly afford.

Another thing to consider is the opportunity cost associated with getting a Masters degree. When you’re studying for your degree there other things you are going to be able to do. In some cases it may mean taking two years off work in order to pursue your schooling. Even if you’re able to find some type of part-time school that allows you to continue to work you will still have to spend a significant amount of time studying they could otherwise be spent on other things.

When considering the cost of a degree you need to take into consideration how much you’ll lose by pursuing that degree. For example if you find a small state school that only costs $10,000 a year but requires you to quit your job in order to spend two years getting the degree that might look pretty attractive compared to $50,000 worth of tuition at an institution that allows you to take classes online. However when you factor in the cost of quitting your job the more expensive school may actually be a better deal because it allows you to keep your job and your current earnings.

Not only do we need to consider the cost of the salary he would forgo when pursuing a degree that requires you to quit your job, but you also need to consider the value of promotions, pension plans, healthcare, work experience, etc. that you would achieve by working while you pursue your Masters degree. In many cases doing some type of online or part-time school makes a lot of financial sense when all the factors are considered. Also as mentioned before you need to consider your employability after you leave the field and then try to come back in the future.

The most important thing to realize is that getting masters to agree is not necessarily a good investment. Many times it is a good investment but you can’t simply ignore the data and run out and enroll in any program you happen to find. Take the time to really think through the value of a potential degree and the costs associated. In many cases what looks attractive at first glance may be a very bad deal and what seems expensive initially may be a much better deal for you over the course of your career when all the factors are considered.

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Value of an degree

What is the real value of a college degree? Is the value what you learn in school? Obviously the value of a degree has traditionally been seen as the education you obtain. However, recent research seems to indicate that there is not a good matchup between the skills learned in college and the skills used on the job. Many employers are complaining that this dooms they get from even top name universities don’t come with the skills they need to be effective at their job.

If this is the case then why go to college? If this is the case then why should employers even look at college graduates? When they be better off looking for bright kids out of high school and simply training them–to go that’s what they are going to have to do with college students to.

Many economists feel that the value of college is not so much the education but more of the signaling that it provides to potential employers. In other words the actual educational process of college doesn’t matter–it’s the perceived value that it sends to potential employers. Part of this could be the idea that it tells employers that you know how to show up on time with a moderately complicated schedule for four years. In other words college shows that you are going to show up for work. This “signaling theory” basically indicates that it doesn’t matter so much what you studying college as it matters that you went to college in the first place. The idea is that you simply need to have a college degree in order to get in the door. In other words potential employees are going to use a college degree or lack thereof as their first level of the vetting process. If you don’t have a college degree that not even going to bother to interview you.

In many ways this may make sense. If you don’t even have a college degree–given how easy it is to get a college degree these days–it might indicate that there’s something wrong with you that would make you a poor employee. On the other hand, if there is very little educational value in going to college and you’re going to need to learn everything on your own anyway, why spend the four years and accumulate all but that necessary to go to college. You’d be at better off starting with the company at a lower wage and learning everything you need to know there.

There are companies that recognize this and are trying to start programs in order to hire kids out of high school while avoiding traditional college graduates. They expect to put money into training people but find it better to take a high school grad and teach them what they need to know to start with a college grad who will expect a higher salary and run them through the same training program.

This represents a significant shift in the way that we perceive college in the value of an education. In many ways the thing that is driving the shift in the lowering of standards in college and an increased mentality that everyone should get a degree. Assuming that everyone is capable of getting a college degree does not help the masses of individuals. The only thing it doesn’t lower the standards of our educational institutions which further drive down the value of a college degree. As the value of a college degree decreases they become easier and easier to obtain. Employers recognize this by requiring degrees for more and more jobs. This is because the jobs necessarily require degrees but because the only individuals who are going to college are those who cannot pass the relatively low bar established I college entrance requirements or who do not have enough self-discipline to show up to class.

To further complicate things tuition rates are skyrocketing. Colleges may be easier to get into from an academic standpoint but they are becoming more and more expensive. To compensate for this the government allows people to go into debt in order to pay for their college education because colleges traditionally been a good way to get a good job. This mentality is reinforced because employers aren’t even interviewing people without their college degree. This makes the government feel that college degrees are even more important to get a job and make it easier for people to get into debt to get their college degree.

The cycle continues and people spend large sums of money on education that doesn’t help them in their career but is necessary in order to get in the door in order to get an interview for a job in the first place.

Companies that create a good internal educational program and target smart high school students are going to see a lot of benefit. They’ll end up with well-trained employees who aren’t under mountains of debt. They’ll be able to capture young employees who are able to work long hours and willing to put the effort into their job that they would normally put into their college career.

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Is an online degree worth it?

Is an online degree worth the expense?  More importantly, is an online degree worth the time it will require.  Obviously these questions are difficult to answer.  Getting an online degree can be very beneficial, but there are pitfalls to avoid, just like there are in getting a degree from a more traditional institution.

There are two things that can go wrong with an online degree.  First if you get a degree that doesn’t teach you any skills, you will have a hard time finding a job–or a hard time keeping a job.  Second, if you get a degree from an organization that isn’t well recognized, you may find it difficult to get a job–even if you have the necessary skills.

One of the best ways to avoid both of these problems is to get an online degree from a school that is established and has a strong presence offline.  Generally you want to look at large state universities because they will generally have the most clout and the least chance of having a bad reputation. Having an online degree from Washington State University is significantly better than showing a degree from the University of Phoenix and dealing with its reputation issues.

You need to be careful to choose a school that will give you a valuable degree and a recognizable degree.  Online degrees can be well worth it–especially if they let you return to school without quitting your day job or dealing with long inconvenient commutes.  However, like any degree, the value you get out of it depends on what you put into it and you need to be careful to choose a school where you can perform well and that has a reputation you want to put on your resume for the rest of your life.

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Will Employers Hire an Online Degree Graduate?

Will employers hire someone with an online degree?  This is a good question.  The answer is, “It depends.”  Some employers don’t care if you got your degree online or through a traditional school. many jobs in the US that require a college degree don’t really require the training that comes with a degree.  These employers are often using a degree just to separate out the people who are going to show up for work from those who won’t.  They want an employee with a degree because someone who can show up for school for four years stands a pretty good chance of showing up for work.  For these employers, it probably doesn’t matter wether you went to an online college.

When it comes to master’s programs, there are many jobs that don’t require a master’s degree, but they will pay you more if you have it.  For example, in many school systems, teachers with master’s are paid more.  As long as the college is accredited, it doesn’t matter whether it was online or not.  I have seen teachers going through University of Phoenix for this reason–the quality of their education doesn’t matter.  They just need the credentials to up their pay.

On the other hand, jobs that require significant skills may be a bit more picky about where you graduated from school. It isn’t just an issue of online vs. bricks and mortar classrooms.  These employers understand the differences between different universities  and have a pretty good idea of the blindspots each person from a particular school is going to have.  For these employers the quality of the education matters.  They may not have anything against online schools, but many online only institutions have dubious academic reputations and attract a certain type of student.  For example, University of Phoenix is unlikely to attract students who spend a lot of effort in researching which school has the best program for their area of study. Capella University is less likely to attract students who have applied to top private colleges.

So it isn’t that employers will necessarily discriminate against students with online degrees, but they are very likely to discriminate based on the academic reputation of your school.  Because of this, it is important to choose your college with care and and understanding of your long term career goals.

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Master’s Degree Return on Investment

Traditionally getting a college education has been a good investment. However the cost of a college education has skyrocketed over the last few decades. It is well outpaced inflation. In light of this fact is worth reconsidering whether or not a college agree is actually worth the money. In particular we want to examine whether a Masters degree is cost-effective.

We’re going to work with a lot of assumptions in these calculations. The idea behind this article isn’t so much to give you a solid yes or no answer. The hope is that this article will help you think about the return on investment of your education. Our little case study will provide you with something of a framework and a point of reference for examining the cost-effectiveness of degrees you may potentially earn in the future.

Let’s say you already have a bachelors degree and you’re earning $50,000 per year now. You’re considering dropping out of the workforce for two years and pursuing a Masters degree. After achieving a Masters degree you are likely to be able to earn $70,000 a year.

What’s estimate the cost of your master stream program is going to be $25,000 per year. This comes to $50,000 over the two-year period. So the total cost of getting your masters degree will be $150,000. That’s $50,000 in actual cost for the program and $100,000 in salary that you will not earn when you take two years off to go to school.

Your earning potential is expected to go up by $20,000 per year. How many years will it take you to pay back the cost of getting your degree? In this particular case it will take you 7 1/2 years. If it takes you some time to find a job after graduating from college with your Masters degree the payback time maybe even longer.

This isn’t necessarily a bad deal and it isn’t necessarily a good deal. If the costs of your masters degree program are significantly higher the program should look less attractive. If the costs are significantly lower or if you can work while pursuing your degree then the value of the program may be even higher to you because it will have a much stronger return on investment.

It is also possible that obtaining a Masters degree may allow you to earn significantly more than $20,000 additional per year. However, when you’re doing your check relations make sure you consider that not everyone makes the top salary that is possible with a given degree. Also in many cases the top salary will require moving to different area of the country. In addition to the cost of the move you may be looking at significantly more expenses when it comes to the general cost of living. Living in a rural area of America where the cost of living is low and earning a much smaller salary can be much better for your pocketbook than earning a salary three times as great a living in an area where the living expenses are extremely high. It’s not uncommon to pay more each month simply to park your car in New York then you would have to pay for an entire house payment in rural America.

A Masters degree can be very lucrative for your career. However don’t assume that simply having a degree is going to allow you to make more money. Also don’t assume that making more money is necessarily going to be a good return on investment when you factor in the opportunity cost and the actual cost of the degree. You have to be very honest with yourself and do your research to make sure that a Masters degree is going to be worthwhile.

Obviously anything you can do to lower the actual cost of getting the degree will make it more beneficial to you. For example if your current employer will pay for education this can be a great way to pursue a Masters degree debt free without having to quit your current job. In that type of scenario you get to take the classes toward your degree while someone else pays for them and you also draw the same salary that you did before.

If you are in a situation where your employer will pay for your degree you may want to consider whether or not you’ll be able to complete the degree while working for your current employer. It is possible that you may want to take a majority of the classes and finish a years worth of work over the span of two or three years. Then you may want to quit your job and go to school full time to finish up the rest of the program and begin looking for and other higher-paying job. Obviously this type approach involves some degree of risk, but it can be a good way to balance between the need to focus exclusively on your studies and the desire to minimize your risk and time being unemployed.

Is very important to understand that not all degrees are equal. Not all schools are equal. Some of the schools that are most convenient to take classes from have the worst reputation. Some of the schools that are most convenient to take classes from half the highest cost of any school. For example the University of Phoenix and compelling University both offer extremely convenient education through online classes. However, this convenience comes at a price. The cost of degree programs the University of Phoenix and through Capella University are significantly higher than what you will pay at a state school. Further, the reputation of the University of Phoenix and the reputation of Capella University may be lower than that of the state school. The reputation of the school can vary wildly depending on what degree program you are pursuing, so it may take quite a bit of research to truly understand the reputation of the school you’re interested in. Just because the school is online does not mean it has a bad reputation. On the other hand, just because the school is expensive does not mean it has a good reputation.

Another thing to keep in mind when weighing the cost benefit of pursuing a Masters degree is the opportunity cost of missed promotions while you pursue your degree. In most cases the Masters degree will allow you to be promoted more rapidly once you have the degree. The two years you spent going to school will probably not set you back much. However there may be opportunities that occur within that 24 months. That you may miss by being in school. These opportunities could be significant and you should carefully consider their possibility. For example if you work for a small company that is being run on by someone who is looking at retiring or at least not being involved as much in the day-to-day operations, you should consider whether or not you might be in the running for a large promotion in the near future. On the other hand, if you are in a position where it is unlikely you will be promoted the opportunity cost of getting a master’s degree may be significantly lower–at least as long as you stay at your current employer.

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