10 Popular Degrees You Can Earn Anytime

Popular Online Degrees

Do you want to go back to school, but need some flexibility to make it happen? Check out ten popular degrees you could earn in your free time.

By Andrea Argueta

Are your responsibilities keeping you from earning the degree you've always wanted? Don't put your dreams on hold just yet.

Online degree programs can be a great option for students who need a flexible way to go back to school.

It's certainly becoming a popular education option among students. In fact, during the fall of 2010, 6.1 million students took at least one online course, according to "Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States 2011," a report published by Babson Survey Research Group.

So, why are millions of students choosing an online platform over on-campus lecture halls? Kimberly Vergez, program coordinator of online learning at UC Berkeley Extension, thinks it's the flexibility factor.

"People who are working eight hours a day don't always feel like they are up for driving in rush hour traffic to [go to] school for another three hours," says Vergez.

If you're looking for a flexible way to go back to school, check out these 10 popular degrees you could earn in your free time.

Online Degree #1 - Accounting

Is your busy schedule keeping you from developing your number-crunching skills? Consider earning an online bachelor's degree in accounting.

Why it's an attractive option: Online accounting programs allow "students to study at times that are best for them, when they [are able to] learn and can absorb numbers and formulas and practical work more easily," says Dani Babb, an online educational consultant. "Coupled with advances in home spreadsheet software, it's very flexible and can be a high quality degree online."

Click to Find the Right Online Accounting Program Now.

What you might learn: An accounting program may prepare you to gather, record, and analyze an organization's financial information. You'll likely take common courses in cost accounting, auditing, and business law, says the College Board, an educational organization that administers tests like the SAT.


Online Degree #2 - Human Resources

Do you want to learn about what it takes to make employees and managers happy? Perhaps you should consider earning a flexible online bachelor's degree in human resources (HR).

Why it's an attractive option: Unlike their on-campus counterparts, online HR majors could have the ease of enrolling in an out-of-state program, and thus learn the HR rules and regulations in different states, says Babb. "This is an advantage that does not occur in an on-ground classroom where the students likely live or work in the same region."

Click to Find the Right Online Human Resources Program Now.

What you might learn: In a human resources program, you could get a solid grasp of employee issues that may include staffing, training, and safety in the workplace, notes the College Board.


Online Degree #3 - Health Care Administration

Got an interest in health care and want to learn the ins and outs of a hospital? Look into a flexible online bachelor's degree in health care administration.

Why it's an attractive option: While it's a flexible option for people of varying backgrounds, an online degree in health care administration could really speak to students who already work in health care and have demanding schedules. "Often those in health care hold unconventional hours and have unique needs for flexibility," says Babb. "Online [programs] can adapt to that need."

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What you might learn: The College Board notes that as a health services administration student, you could learn how health care facilities are overseen and how specific laws affect the health care industry. Courses might cover topics like health care policy and ethics.


Online Degree #4 - Criminal Justice

Want to learn more about our justice system, but haven't found a campus-based program with adaptable class schedules? An online bachelor's degree in criminal justice could be the right option for you.

Why it's an attractive option: Online criminal justice programs are popular since they offer many advantages to people in law occupations who are looking to expand their career or opportunities, explains Babb. He adds that students can earn their online degree "in a flexible environment where they can work around their work and home life."

Click to Find the Right Online Criminal Justice Program Now.

What you might learn: A criminal justice program is considered an interdisciplinary major, which means you'll get to study a bit of everything, from law to psychology to sociology, says the College Board. Common courses, such as juvenile justice, criminology, and victimology, could help fine-tune your knowledge of crime and the law.


Online Degree #5 - Business Administration

Interested in earning a degree that could teach you how to run a business, but the right classes simply don't fit your schedule? An online bachelor's in business administration degree is an option you may want to consider.

Why it's an attractive option: "Business administration is one of those 'staple' degrees that is consistently in need," says Babb, who adds that "the online component to business is very useful. Since most of us communicate with colleagues via electronic means, the practice and real-world experience that online, instead of on-ground, students get in the classroom is a big advantage to them."

Click to Find the Right Online Business Administration Program Now.

What you might learn: In a business administration and management program, you could develop the skills to one day plan, organize, direct, and control an organization's activities, says the College Board. Some typical courses include business statistics, financial management, accounting, and marketing.


Online Degree #6 - Computer Science

Fascinated by computers, but haven't found the time to go back to school? Here's some info you might find appealing: With an online bachelor's degree in computer science, you could actually attend class whenever and wherever you want.

Why it's an attractive option: "Students of the computer sciences tend to be more introverted, and so the online classroom may provide a more 'safe' teaching environment for them," says Babb. "And often I've found these learners tend to speak out more in an online classroom than a traditional one." And if you're more on the chatty side, don't worry; the flexibility of this degree is also an attractive factor.

Click to Find the Right Online Computer Science Program Now.

What you might learn: With instruction in programming and the theory and design of software, computer science students could learn how to program languages such as C++ or Java, explore what goes on inside computers, and debug programs, notes the College Board.


Online Degree #7 - Psychology

Do you want to discover how the human mind works, but don't know how much room you have left in your schedule for commuting to class at set times? Good news: An online bachelor's degree in psychology doesn't need you to commit to strict class schedules.

Why it's an attractive option: "Many of the online [psychology] programs have the same clinical requirements that the on-ground institutions do, so the rigor can be just as intense as an on-ground program," says Babb. So what's the difference? With an online program, "the non-clinical requirements can be done with flexible hours by each individual at a time schedule that works for them."

Click to Find the Right Online Psychology Program Now.

What you might learn: As a psychology student, you could get a sense of how animals and humans learn, think, and act, says the College Board. You may also read up on issues affecting society today, such as violence, eating disorders, and learning difficulties.


Online Degree #8 - Marketing

If you're looking for a flexible way to learn about what consumers want, then you might be interested in earning an online bachelor's degree in marketing.

Why it's an attractive option: Babb believes an online marketing degree could help students develop skills beyond that of a traditional degree. Here's why: Marketing degree students will get the opportunity to read and write online, which is how most business is conducted today, says Babb.

Click to Find the Right Online Marketing Program Now.

What you might learn: According to the College Board, marketing degree students could pick up skills on how to create, price, and sell new products. Typical courses might include consumer behavior, international marketing, and marketing strategy.


Online Degree #9 - Paralegal Studies

Fancy studying law during your free time? Well, with an online associate's degree in paralegal studies, you can.

Why it's an attractive option: According to Babb, online paralegal studies degree programs allow students to learn the language of the law in the same manner as an on-campus program. The upside to the online method, however, is that it gives students "the flexibility of being able to work during the day and tend to family needs, while learning a new field," says Babb.

Click to Find the Right Online Paralegal Studies Program Now.

What you might learn: Courses in legal research and writing are just a small portion of what a paralegal studies degree entails. In fact, the College Board notes that students may also learn how to utilize the resources of a law library, use legal databases, and draft briefs.


Online Degree #10 - Network System Administration

Do you wish you had the time to learn the ABCs of computer operating systems? There's no need for wishing, because an online bachelor's degree program in network administration could provide the flexibility to do just that.

Why it's an attractive option: Babb says that because online network administration programs are so well-simulated, even labs can be done online. She adds that "the student can still go to work and be with his or her family while learning the intricacies of network administration in new ways."

Click to Find the Right Online Network System Administration Program Now.

What you might learn: "Students of network and system administration learn how to manage the computer operations of specific organizations and locations," says the College Board. Students gain this knowledge through commonly offered courses that include network security, desktop support, web languages, and core hardware technologies.


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