In this post we are going to look at some of the benefits of pursuing an online masters degree. First, let me explain that there are downsides to online education. Not everyone is cut out to get an online masters degree. However, we’ve touched on the downsides in previous articles, so here we are going to only focus on the benefits.
The ability to take classes from anywhere in the world is a huge benefit. With an online masters degree you can choose the college and program that is best suited for your needs instead of simply the one that is located nearest to your house and that you can drive to. For people who travel a lot, an online degree program can allow them to get a degree when they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
You can literally take classes from any college anywhere in the world that offers an online option. You are no longer limited to your geographic part of the world. This means people in India can study at Harvard. A housewife living in Europe can take classes from Stanford University. And someone in rural Oklahoma can take a class from Oxford.
While you may be location independent with an online degree program, you still need to consider time zone issues. Most online classes are geared to cater towards students with different schedules, but still if you have enough for 12 hours and maybe more difficult to complete assignments on time and to take part in online interactive components of your education.
One thing that is often overlooked when it comes to location independence is the ability to live in a low cost area of taking classes from University located in a part of the country were living expenses are very high. You can put a lot more of your money toward your education if you’re living in a place where rent is $400 a month instead of somewhere where it is $1200 a month.
Flexible schedule for an online masters degree
Most online masters degrees offer a fairly flexible schedule. While you don’t want to get behind in your coursework, you can usually very when your intense study sessions are by doing them early by a few days or late by a few days and still meet your deadline. This is a huge boon to people who have other commitments outside of school. If you have a family, kids, a spouse or other personal and social commitments the ability to do your schoolwork around the important things in life is a huge benefit.
One of the biggest benefits of flexible schedule is the ability to work another job. You can do your schoolwork in the morning, in the evenings, on weekends, or even on your lunch break and still maintain a good work ethic with your current employer. When you don’t have to take yourself out of the workforce for a couple years just to get a degree you have two advantages. First of all you maintain the income that you would’ve lost during that period of time. It seems you don’t have to go into as much debt–if any, and you can continue to live a similar lifestyle to what you had before. The second benefit is that you have real-world experience to relate your education. Of course this only is beneficial if you are working in the field somewhat related to what you’re studying. Still this benefit of real-world experiences like an ongoing internship and can make the value you derive from your online education much greater than what you would get otherwise.
An employer might pay for your online masters degree
If you quit work and move to another city to get a degree, your employer will not pay for it. However if you get an online masters degree and study during the evenings and on weekends there’s a good chance your employer may pay for some or all of your education. In addition to being able to work your full-time job, immediately get your current boss to pick up the tab for what you’re learning. This means the education can cost you nothing in terms of actual dollars spent and, since you’re able to keep working, it costs you nothing in missed work opportunity costs.
Take a look at your employee handbook. You may find that there is some type of educational benefit already on the books that you can use your benefit. Many employers offer this type of benefit but very few people take advantage of it. Even if there is not an official tuition reimbursement policy, ask your employer anyway. If the degreed matches well with what your job is they may be very excited about helping you get additional training–particularly if you are taking time off work to do it.
Online masters degrees can be inexpensive
As you mentioned above an online masters degree may give you the ability to live in a part of the country where it isn’t as expensive when it comes to living expenses. You also may be able to continue your job so you don’t have lost income during that period. Another benefit of an online masters degree is that some online schools are significantly lower in cost than traditional institutions. Think about it. They’ll have to pay for classroom, blackboards, chalk, janitorial service, and a number of other things. Their electronic infrastructure scales to many more students much better than the physical infrastructure of classrooms.
The interesting thing about the cost of an online masters degree is that the quality of education does not directly determine the price. Harvard’s online extension school classes are often less expensive than classes from for-profit universities with dubious reputations. There are more expensive programs out there from well-known schools. However, take the time to look for the best value. You may be pleasantly surprised to find a very well-known school offering courses at a much lower price point than you would expect.