Want to go to the next level with your career but not sure how to get there? Here are six popular online degree programs you could start at home.
Want to further your career by earning a degree, but don't have the time or flexibility to take courses at a university? Well, you've got options. Online education is in-demand and growing, though certain degree programs are more popular than others.
Just what makes an online degree popular?
Well, in part, the same things that make onsite degrees popular, says B. Loerinc Helft, academic director of the online business programs at the City University of New York's School of Professional Studies. "First, degrees that are popular at universities are just as popular for online students," says Helft. "The point is not the vehicle for which you are learning, but what you are learning," she explains.
What is true, however, is that certain online majors may be more popular than others because they work especially well for an online platform, she adds.
Intrigued? Read on for six stand-out degrees that are all the rage in online education.
Interested in learning about the ins and outs of business? An online bachelor's degree in business administration may be your path to do so, and you may take comfort knowing that plenty of other people will be on that path with you.
Why It's Popular: Business administration was ranked as the top online undergraduate degree program, with one-third of online students studying in the field, according to the Education Dynamics and Learning House study "Online College Students 2012."
Helft is not at all surprised by this. It's a simple equation, she says: "Business administration is a popular degree for on-campus students, thus it is a popular one for online students as well."
What You Might Study: So perhaps it's the program curriculum - and its professional applications - that is enticing to the masses of college students. According to the College Board, a nonprofit organization that promotes equity and excellence in higher education, business administration majors learn how to orchestrate an organization's activities. Potential courses could include operations management, economics, and accounting.
Potential Careers: Interested in what careers a business administration degree may prepare you for? Market research analysts usually need a bachelor's degree in market research, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, but some analysts have a background in other fields, such as - you guessed it - business administration. Financial analyst is another career that might require a bachelor's degree in a field like business administration, according to the Department of Labor.
With all the buzz about opportunities in the health care industry lately, it's not a surprise that online bachelor's degrees in health care administration are popular - especially with working people who don't have the flexibility to take on-campus classes.
Why It's Popular: "A lot of people want to get into health care, but are still working," says Helft, so an online degree may be just the ticket to make the switch because of its flexibility.
What You Might Study: Curious what you might do in this degree? "Students of health services administration learn all aspects of overseeing health care facilities and the services they provide," says the College Board. They might study a combination of health care policy, economics of health care, and epidemiology, the College Board adds.
Potential Careers: This in-demand degree may prepare you to pursue a career as a medical and health services manager. The U.S. Department of Labor notes that candidates for the position have a bachelor's degree in health administration.
Love working with computers and enthused by the idea of getting a technology-related degree? Well, you're in luck: A bachelor's degree in computer science is very popular online.
Why It's Popular: If you're studying the field of computer science, doesn't it make sense to be doing it on a computer? "Having an online degree like computer science where students get together virtually from all over - even around the world - to solve issues by a computer is very exciting," says Helft, "and many students realize this."
What You Might Study: As a computer science major, you could learn how to design computer programs, as well as delve into programming and the theory and design of software, says the College Board. If that doesn't get you excited, consider the course offerings, which may include digital systems design and artificial intelligence.
Potential Careers: A degree in computer science could prepare you for a career as a software developer. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, software developers usually hold a bachelor's degree in the field. Another career path is network and computer systems administrator, for which "a bachelor's degree in fields related to computer or information science is most common," says the Department of Labor.
Love the way the human mind works and need flexibility to turn that interest into a career? An bachelor's degree in psychology may fit the bill perfectly.
Why It's Popular: Like business administration, psychology is just as popular online as it is on-campus, says Helft. And the numbers don't lie: It ranked as the fifth most popular online undergraduate degree, according to the Education Dynamics and Learning House study.
So why all the buzz about psychology? Studying it could open up many varied job opportunities - which is nice for a working professional who wants an online degree with options. "Most graduates with a bachelor's degree in psychology find work in other fields such as business administration, sales, or education," says the U.S. Department of Labor.
What You Might Study: As a psychology major you could study human behavior and the learning process, according to the College Board. Yes, that's right: You could learn how we learn. As for your courses, they may include neuroscience and abnormal psychology.
Potential Career: A direct-service social worker is a career you may be prepared to take on after earning this degree. Although the U.S. Department of Labor reports that the most common requirement is a bachelor's degree in social work, "some employers may hire workers who have a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as psychology or sociology."
If you love criminal mind shows and want to earn a popular online degree, criminal justice may be right for you.
Why It's Popular: You're not the only one interested in crime. People all over the world are generally fascinated by our baser human tendencies, which is what makes criminal justice a popular online degree. "Crime has a national and international component," says Helft, "so students would really benefit from students from all over the world taking the same class, which can happen with online courses."
What You Might Study: As a criminal justice major, you may be hitting the books with courses like criminology, statistics, and policing society, the College Board notes. The end goal: Learn about every aspect of crime, the law, and the justice system.
Potential Career: A criminal justice degree holder may be prepared to pursue a career as a probation officer, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, as it's one of the degrees usually required for the job.
Love helping people and want a popular online degree? A bachelor's degree in nursing may be just what you're looking for.
Why It's Popular: A bachelor's in nursing ranked the fourth most popular undergraduate online degree, according to the Education Dynamics and Learning House study. This is likely due, in part, to the degree's professional potential.
"Getting a bachelor's degree in nursing is a great way to get ahead for those already in nursing that hold an associate's degree or those who are currently in the medical field but want to make more money or gain more responsibility," says Helft. And for those already working in the field, getting the degree online is a perfect way to solve the busy-schedule problem.
What You Might Study: While the main goal for a bachelor's in nursing is to train to care for sick and disabled patients and to promote better health, nursing majors may also take classes like chemistry, pharmacology, nutrition, and psychology, according to the College Board.
Potential Careers: Earning a bachelor's in nursing is one of the three paths for pursuing a career as a registered nurse, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Just be warned: to pursue a career as a registered nurse you must first pass the National Council Licensure Examination.
Next Article: Five College Degrees Employers Want Most »