By Brent Wooten
In today’s volatile economy, earning a graduate degree is a smart choice for career advancement and delivers a healthy return on investment. It opens up new opportunities and gives workers a competitive advantage.
Completing one’s degree online allows for scheduling flexibility around work and family responsibilities. According to research by Eduventures, online students represent about 11% of all students at U.S. colleges, and online education is already mainstream among adult students overall (close to 25% of adult students).
Online graduate programs and students will become even more prevalent over the next decade, as the existing pool of younger people become working professionals – the very population most interested in online study.
Online education offers the convenience that working adults demand, but prospective students would be wise to look beyond this simple advantage. When considering online education to stay competitive in the workplace, advance one’s career, or simply pursue personal development, these three institutional factors should be examined.
First, the length of time an institution has delivered distance and online education is important, since it means the school has established policies and procedures that work for adult students learning off site.
Second, instructors should have professional experience in their fields, adding significantly to the graduate student’s learning experience, and information about the instructor should be available.
Third, accreditation is crucial since it provides an indication of an institution’s reputation and quality. General accreditation applies to the entire institution as a whole and is awarded by one of six regional accrediting agencies. This accreditation assures students of a basic level of quality, and your degree will be recognized as legitimate by employers. In addition, federal financial aid is not available to non-accredited institutions.
Few institutions have the level of experience (more than 30 years) working with adult students off site as Saint Joseph’s College. Mary Haskell, a teacher in Florida completing a graduate education degree, praises the College’s attention to the online learner. “Saint Joseph’s truly understands the rigors of adults juggling responsibilities… and they make student success possible.”
Today, the College offers more than 20 online graduate and undergraduate programs in business, education, health care administration, nursing and theology – all suited to the student’s own schedule and location. According to Keith Allan, a director of sales training in California, “Saint Joseph’s MBA program is designed to accommodate the preferred learning styles of students today. The online functionality and the course materials provide an interactive platform for learning.”
Recently, Saint Joseph’s introduced two new online graduate programs. The online Family Nurse Practitioner program allows nurses to do advanced degree course work online and complete clinical experiences largely in their home area. Classes can be completed as part of the Master of Science in Nursing degree or as a post-MSN certificate. This program prepares graduates to sit for the National FNP certification exam.
The online Master of Accountancy prepares people with an undergraduate business degree for a career in public accounting or in auditing. The curriculum prepares graduates for taking the certified public accountant exam, and it also satisfies the widely adopted 150-hour educational requirement for certification and licensure as a CPA.
For a complete listing of online programs at Saint Joseph’s College, visit http://online.sjcme.edu, or call an admissions counselor at 800-752-4723.