Six Online Degrees That Fit Your Schedule

Six Online Degrees That Fit Your Schedule

If studying when and where you want sounds like the only way to fit school into your schedule - you're in luck. Here are six online degree programs just for you.

By Andrea Argueta

Work, family, pets, life - you've got a lot on your plate. All of which makes the idea of going back to school seem even more daunting. But there's still hope: Enrolling in an online program could help you get the education you need while juggling other responsibilities.

This is exactly the kind of flexibility that many students are looking for these days, as indicated by a recent study titled "Online College Students 2012: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences" published by the Learning House, an organization that helps colleges develop online degree programs. Of the students surveyed, 68 percent said they enrolled in an online program to balance their family, work, and school responsibilities.

But how is that balance achieved? In part, freedom of time and place. According to the study, 64 percent of students said that another reason for enrolling in an online program is the ability to study anytime and anywhere.

Does a couch-based study session sound like a great way to fit school into your crazy schedule? Read on to learn more about the online degrees you could earn at home.

Online Degree #1: Paralegal Studies

If you have a passion for law and want to learn more about it in your free time, look into earning your associate's degree in paralegal studies online.

Online paralegal degrees teach students to conduct research and use legal language in the same manner as traditional degrees - all while giving students the flexibility they need, says Dani Babb, professor and online educational consultant.

Click to Find the Right Online Paralegal Studies Program.

What You Might Learn: As a paralegal student, you could learn how to use the online legal database LexisNexis and write briefs or other legal documents, says the College Board, an organization that administers the SAT exam. Most importantly, this program could help you prepare to work under the supervision of a lawyer to conduct investigations and keep records.

Potential Career Paths:*

  • Paralegal
  • Legal assistant

Online Degree #2: Computer Science

Earning an online bachelor's degree in computer science might be a great way to learn the ins and outs of the field from your home or office.

As an online computer science student, you could practice working on lab assignments on your own by using information found in forums, similar to the way information technology works, says Babb. And when you're studying wherever and whenever you can, sharing information online will quickly become a valuable resource.

Click to Find the Right Online Computer Science Program.

What You Might Learn: As a computer science major, you might learn about the interaction between humans and computers from a scientific perspective, according to the College Board. You might also learn what goes on inside a computer when it is solving a problem, as well as the theory behind software design and programming languages.

Potential Career Paths:*

  • Computer systems analyst
  • Software developer
  • Computer programmer

Online Degree #3: Criminal Justice

If you're interested in learning about the justice system but need flexibility to make it happen, consider earning an online bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

An online degree in criminal justice is sought after by students because of the diversity of course offerings, says Babb. "Criminal justice programs online cover a lot of ground, from homeland security and defense to public policy and administration to work in law enforcement," she adds.

Click to Find the Right Online Criminal Justice Program.

What You Might Learn: The College Board says you may study the justice system and historical court cases in a criminal justice program. You may also learn about every aspect of crime, in addition to topics like probation and parole, and policing styles.

Potential Career Paths:*

  • Probation officer
  • Correctional treatment specialist
  • Computer forensic investigator

Online Degree #4: Graphic Design

Are you a creative person who loves to sketch or illustrate? If so, you may want to sharpen those skills with an online bachelor's degree in graphic design.

Studying this program online has some surprising advantages due to the nature of the actual career. "Many graphic designers prefer or need to work alone," says Babb. So studying graphic design online seems like the logical choice. Not only that, but you might as well get used to working on your own. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that many graphic designers work independently and some telecommute.

Click to Find the Right Online Graphic Design Program.

What You Might Learn: As a graphic design major, you might learn the basics of good design while putting together a portfolio. You may also work on real-world projects, such as creating corporate logos or websites, and develop the skills needed to create books or magazines.

Potential Career Paths:*

  • Graphic designer
  • Desktop publisher

Online Degree #5: Public Administration

If you're ready to learn more about public policies without having to commute to class, look into pursuing an online public administration degree.

Typically, public administration majors are already working in the field and want to advance their careers, says Babb. An online program provides the flexibility these students need to pursue their degrees and may be less daunting than a traditional program, Babb adds.

Click to Find the Right Online Public Administration Program.

What You Might Learn: As a public administration student, you'll develop the skills you would need to bring diverse groups together and study how administrators enact policy at the local, state, and federal levels, says the College Board. Studying the issues that many U.S. policy makers face today, such as welfare and crime, is also common in public administration programs.

Potential Career Path:*

  • Social and community service manager

Online Degree #6: Education

Do you want to learn how to teach students of all ages? Consider earning an online bachelor's degree in education.

Online bachelor's degrees in education combine independent, self-directed learning with the kinds of hands-on experience you'd find in a traditional university setting, says Joan Mitchell, director of public relations at Western Governors University. "Students can also use online course communities to chat about course materials with fellow students."

Click to Find the Right Online Education Program.

What You Might Learn: As an education major, you could learn to design inspiring lessons and help students of different backgrounds succeed, says the College Board. You could also study common courses such as teaching methods and education in a multicultural society.

Potential Career Paths:*

  • Kindergarten teacher
  • Elementary school teacher

*All potential career information based on the degrees presented is mentioned under the "How to Become One" section for the related career on the U.S. Department of Labor's website. The reference could include the Department labeling the degree as being needed, required, preferred, or common for pursuing the particular career.

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