Online education is constantly evolving, with diverse subject options available to students who wish to earn their degrees. What degrees can you get online? You’ll find that the sky’s the limit. Just about any degree program offered through in-person learning is also available through online education.
The Benefits of Earning Your Degree Online
Students have discovered that online courses provide flexibility and cost-effectiveness while still giving them the rigorous training they receive when attending in-person classes. Online education allows students to take courses at colleges across the U.S. rather than just in their local area. They save time and money by avoiding long commutes and the frustrations of parking on busy campuses. Asynchronous classes allow students to participate when convenient, making them a good choice for those with a job or family commitments.
Top 10 Online Degrees
A wide variety of programs are available online, but some are better than others when it comes to career outcomes. If you’re looking for a degree that will lead to a well-paying, fulfilling, enjoyable job, consider the following options.
1. Computer science
In our increasingly technical world, computer science is a sure bet as a career choice. There are jobs available at the associate, bachelor, and master’s degree levels, with specializations in areas such as cybersecurity, programming, and network management. Many specialties will see significant growth over the next decade. For example, according to the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information systems managers with a bachelor’s degree earn a median annual salary of $159,010, with the need for workers expected to grow by 16 percent by the early 2030s.
2. Data science
An online master’s degree in data science will prepare you for a job that earns a six-figure salary. According to the BLS, data scientists earn a median salary of $100,910, with job growth over the next decade projected to be 35 percent. As a data scientist, you will play a key role in collecting, analyzing, and communicating data-based information. You may work in a field such as computer systems design, technical consulting, or scientific research.
3. Business administration
A bachelor’s degree in business prepares you for a myriad of jobs in a corporate setting, while an online MBA offers access to leadership positions. Some students continue their education with a doctorate in business administration online, which can prepare them for executive-level and management positions or allow them to teach at the university level. Top earners in this field earn salaries well into the six figures. Robust job growth is also indicated for those with business administration degrees, with the BLS projecting 11 percent growth for management analysts, for example.
Finance is another field with bright prospects for graduates at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels. The need for finance experts has grown as business and financial operations have become more complex. Financial managers with expertise in the tax code, for example, are vital, as are those who can help the rapidly-aging population in the U.S. prepare for and manage their retirement. The need for financial managers with a bachelor’s degree is expected to grow by 15 percent by 2031, much faster than average. According to the BLS, the salary is robust as well, averaging $94,170 for personal financial advisors.
As with other financial professionals, accountants and auditors will be in high demand over the coming decades, with the profession expected to grow by six percent. Accountants are needed with degrees at all levels of higher education: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral. With an associate degree in accounting, you can expect to earn an average of $45,560 a year. Continue your education to a higher level, and you could earn as much as $128,680. As an accounting professional, you will be prepared to examine financial records, identify opportunities and risks, and provide financial solutions for companies and individuals.
6. Human resources
Human resources is a complex and fast-growing field. HR professionals recruit and train job applicants, manage compensation and benefits, and serve as a liaison between upper management and employees. Human resource positions are available to individuals with an associate’s degree, but it’s also possible to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree. The median salary for someone with an undergraduate degree is $62,290, but upper-level human resource specialists may make well into the six figures. Employment opportunities for those with degrees in HR are expected to grow roughly seven percent in the next decade.
Marketing professionals use skills from public speaking to analytics, which can be learned in associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs. A degree in this field can position you for a career in business, advertising, politics, or fundraising. The need for marketing experts and managers is expected to increase by ten percent, faster than average, over the next decade. An individual with a bachelor’s level diploma can earn a median pay of $133,380.
8. Criminal justice
There are a surprising number of possible jobs for an individual with an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in criminal justice. The degree can be a stepping stone into legal or judicial work, but it can also be a good choice for someone interested in law enforcement or psychology. The average salary for a police officer or detective with a bachelor’s degree is $66,020, while those in leadership roles may earn more than $105,540.
9. Political science
Political scientists play a vital role in understanding and shaping our world. You can start your journey with an online bachelor’s degree, continuing, if you wish, with a master’s in political science. Individuals with training in political science have found work in a range of industries and government as well as in education. Many political scientists work in market research analysis. Demand for this highly-skilled occupation is projected to grow at a high 18 percent rate over the next decade. A master’s degree-level political scientist can expect to earn a median salary of $122,510 or more each year.
10. Environmental science
Want to make the world a better place? If so, an online environmental science degree might be right for you. Environmental science graduates work for businesses, government agencies, or non-profit organizations, helping to conserve resources and protect the natural world around us. Increasingly, environmental scientists are also decision-makers, working to shape public policy. This field is projected to grow by about five percent in the next decade. A bachelor’s degree-level environmental scientist can expect to earn a median pay of $76,530 per year.
Tips for Succeeding in an Online Degree Program
Earning a college degree isn’t easy, as any student will tell you, and earning one online presents a unique set of challenges. Here are a few tips on how to manage them:
- If possible, clear a designated space in your home for your classes. It’s hard to study if your online classroom is the dining room table; even a folding chair and table in a quiet corner or closet may work for you.
- Schedule your time wisely. It’s not enough to know when to attend classes. Experts say you should also schedule two to three hours of study time for every hour you spend in class.
- Introduce yourself to your professors and stay connected with them. It can be more challenging to get to know your professors when your classes are online, but it’s worth the effort. Not only will professors assist you with understanding material and assignments in class, they can write you recommendation letters and connect you with other professionals in your career field. Most online professors maintain virtual office hours, so make an appointment to meet them early in the term.
- Know your support services. Most colleges and universities have support services for online students, from personalized tutoring to career services. Don’t be afraid to access these remotely. You will generally find friendly, competent professionals who can make your life easier.
- Connect with your peers. Take the time to develop relationships with others in your classes if your online technology allows you to message or email them. Some online programs offer opportunities to foster meaningful connections outside of the classroom through community spaces where you can interact with others in live sessions. You can prioritize your networking efforts by being intentional in understanding what kind of people you want to meet.
Take care of yourself. If your program is starting to overwhelm you, remember to take time for yourself. Avoid all-nighters, eat well, and take time off from your coursework when you can. Your body will thank you for it.