Save Time: Earn Your Degree Online

Save Time: Earn Your Degree Online

See how online programs help you fit education into your busy life.

By Chris Kyle   

Trying to find time to get your degree? You may be able to control the clock by going to school online.

At Penn State, the typical online student is an adult-learner who leads a busy and full life, according to Karen Pollack, director of academic affairs at Penn State World Campus, the school's online program.

"They are working full time," Pollack says. "They have families. They may be taking care of young children at the same time they are helping to support aging parents."

By going to school online, students of all ages don't have to worry about pesky commutes at rush hour or fret about getting to a particular classroom at an assigned time on a particular day of the week.

In other words, students can try to earn the degree they want without giving up their lives.

Keep reading for five online degrees that can help advance your careers and save time while doing so...

#1 Online Degree - Business Administration

For students who already have a job and don't want to give it up to go to school, studying business administration online could help them immediately put to use what they're learning in class. Students can major in business administration online at the undergraduate level, or get their MBA.

Think you're too busy to pursue a degree in business administration online? Think again. Online MBA students at Arizona State University, to name one example, have included everyone from a U.S. Army soldier serving in Afghanistan to NFL Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff, who graduated while playing for the Baltimore Ravens.

Find Schools that Offer Online Business Administration Programs.

Potential career path: One benefit of studying business administration is the broad-based foundation that it provides for those in the business world. To use just one example, general managers across all industries have an average annual salary of $113,100, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

#2 Online Degree - IT & Information Systems

Studying IT and information systems is one way to stay up-to-date on the new technology that is transforming the way we work and live... and studying online allows you to do it on your own time.

Whether you're interested in social media or want to increase the speed in which businesses gather and sort info, an online bachelor's or master's degree in one of these areas may be for you, regardless of your zip code.

Find Schools that Offer Online IT & Information Systems Programs.

Potential career path: Earning this type of degree could present many potential opportunities for you, as businesses of all types rely upon technology - whether it's computer servers, database technology, or simply the ability to send and receive email. One tech-related career path example is computer and information systems managers, who have an average annual salary of $123,280, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

#3 Online Degree - Health Care Administration

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 10 of the 20 fastest growing jobs in the U.S. are in health care, and studying health care administration online is a way to start strategically prepping for entry into one of the biggest sectors of the economy.

For busy professionals who already have a bachelor's degree, you may want to consider an online master's degree program, which may be found at a variety of schools. New Jersey-based Seton Hall University, for example, offers an online master's of health care administration.

Find Schools that Offer Online Health Care Administration Programs.

Potential career path: According to the Department of Labor, a master's degree in an area like health services administration is considered standard for general medical or health care manager positions. The average annual salary of those in this position is $93,670.

#4 Online Degree - Paralegal Studies

Interested in a paralegal career but don't want to commit to several years of commuting to school? Studying paralegal studies online could help you earn an associate's degree or certificate - the most common credentials that paralegals have these days, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

"Students appreciate the flexibility that the program offers in terms of balancing a full-time job, family obligations and their education," says Jondavid DeLong, who teaches legal studies online at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Canton.

Find Schools that Offer Online Paralegal Studies Programs.

Potential career path: As the legal industry evolves, paralegals are assuming responsibilities that usually were performed exclusively by lawyers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which adds that formally schooled and experienced paralegals should find the best employment opportunities. The average annual salary for a paralegal is $49,640, according to the Department of Labor.

#5 Online Degree - Psychology

Social media has changed the way people interact, and it's also giving fresh material for online psychology students, who have chosen to study human nature and the human condition.

According to a study by Eduventures, a Boston-based research firm, online psychology bachelor's degrees cracked their top 10 list in terms of enrollment in 2009.

Psychology is the most popular online bachelor's degree program at Penn State, too, says Wayne Smutz, executive director of Penn State World Campus.

"It's a degree that can be used in a variety of different ways because it's a very flexible subject matter," he explains. "Students may choose to go into areas like health care, business, and human resources."

Find Schools that Offer Online Psychology Programs.

Potential career path: According to the University of California at Santa Barbara, possible career tracks for psych majors include social & human services, HR, residential care, therapy, and teaching. HR specialists, as one example, have an average yearly salary of $57,830, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

*All salary info comes from the U.S. Department of Labor using May 2010 earnings data.

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