Earning a college degree is more important now than ever before. Georgetown University research projects that 35% of new job openings between 2013 and 2020 will require applicants to possess at least a bachelor’s degree. However, many individuals face barriers to attending a traditional college program, including work, children, and accessibility issues.
Those who cannot attend school on campus may consider earning a degree through an online school. Distance learning programs offer increased accessibility and flexibility to working adults and other busy students. You may complete college classes in your own home, on your own time, and according to your own schedule. The best online bachelor’s degrees allow you to earn an education while meeting your other obligations.
This guide describes online programs, explains different types of degrees, lists salary information, and features scholarship and funding opportunities. The page can help you select the best online bachelor’s degree for your needs and interests.
Many different people choose to pursue online bachelor’s programs, including working professionals seeking career advancement; high school students exploring their future college options; and individuals trying to decide whether to earn a certificate, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree. The top online universities allow students to complete coursework on their own schedules, and many also allow students to watch lectures at their own convenience instead of attending class at a particular time. Online programs follow the same curriculum as on-campus programs, and in most cases, distance learners receive the same exact degree as on-campus students. Many people also prefer online programs because of the convenience they provide.
Students can choose from hundreds of online colleges in the U.S. Selecting an educational pathway often comes down to factors such as out-of-pocket cost, perceived value, and applicability toward future career goals.
Prospective undergraduate students may enroll in three different types of educational programs: certificates, associate programs, or bachelor’s programs. The table below describes each option in detail.
|Associate Degree Programs||Certificate Programs||Bachelor’s Programs|
|What types of institutions award these?||Community colleges, online schools||Community colleges, online schools||Universities, online schools|
|How long does it take?||Two years of full-time study, on average||About a year of full-time study||Four years of full-time study, on average|
|What is the goal, as opposed to other degree options?||Fulfill the general education requirements for a bachelor’s program, plus a few major/career courses||Professional development, quick way to obtain career skills||Interdisciplinary program; enhances career skills and overall critical thinking, communication, and analysis|
|Who would it makes sense for?||High school graduates or working adults looking for an affordable path to a bachelor’s degree||High school graduates, working adults, individuals with a degree looking to change careers||High school graduates, working adults looking to enhance overall knowledge and increase career opportunities|
|Any caveats to consider?||Primarily consists of general education courses, less emphasis on major/career||Does not award a degree; credits may or may not be transferable toward a bachelor’s degree||Often costs more to complete general education requirements through a bachelor’s than through an associate program|
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Some bachelor’s degrees can lead to six-figure jobs for learners who enter the right program and career path. Certain high-demand careers in business and engineering require highly skilled and motivated individuals, but do not require extensive educational prerequisites. Read on to discover how a bachelor’s degree can provide the leverage you need to negotiate job offers, end personal underemployment, and develop the skills for which employers look.
|OCCUPATIONS REQUIRING MINIMUM OF A BACHELOR’S DEGREE||Average of Mean Salary by State|
|Architectural and Engineering Managers||$138,697|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$132,116|
|Compensation and Benefits Managers||$121,730|
|Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers||$119,288|
|Natural Sciences Managers||$118,753|
|General and Operations Managers||$114,950|
|Human Resources Managers||$113,786|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
Everyone would like a six-figure salary, but not everyone excels in the same areas or prefers the same type of job. If you want to pursue an online bachelor’s degree, but do not know where to start, this section can help you discover degree paths and career options. The guides and links listed below offer essential information on degrees and careers based on individual personality types, professional requirements, and personal preferences or passions.
Minority individuals and individuals who have been laid off may qualify for federally funded employment training and job placement services through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Availability of providers and programs varies by state, but may include bachelor’s-level education in fields such as nursing, education, or business administration.
Learners can also select a career in an industry with low unemployment numbers. Examples include petroleum engineers in the oil extraction industry or foresters in the forestry and conservation industry. Make sure to consider your location and nearby job environment when using this method for career exploration.
Many individuals enjoy flexible work, as it allows them to schedule their work like around other obligations, such as family. Popular flexible-hour jobs that often require a bachelor’s degree include freelance work in media, writing, and communications. Many freelance jobs do not come with benefits, however. Flexible-hour jobs with benefits include remote or work-from-home jobs in medical or technical professions. Remote tech support specialists often provide customer support according to their own schedule. Even nurses and pharmacists now provide home-based support over the phone or via video chat.
Forestry, marine and wildlife biology, and surveying jobs all require extensive job time spent outdoors. Some outdoor jobs require more intensive manual labor than others. You can explore additional outdoor jobs in the link below. Note that some options may require more or less education than a bachelor’s degree.Learn More About Careers Working in the Outdoors
As mentioned in the section above, popular work-from-home jobs include freelance writing, communications, or media occupations, as well as technical and medical customer support jobs. Other growing telecommuting opportunities for bachelor’s degree holders can be found in sales and marketing, as well as virtual education and tutoring.
Career-focused animal lovers commonly work in zoos and vet offices. Veterinary technician jobs only require a bachelor’s degree. Other careers to consider include wildlife rehabilitator, marine mammal trainer, animal behaviorist, wildlife biologist, or animal educator.Learn More About Careers Working with Animals
From kindergarten to high school, most teaching jobs outside of colleges and universities require a bachelor’s degree and teaching certification. Other popular employment opportunities that involve working with children include childcare facility directors, sports coaches, and child and family social workers.Learn More About Careers Working with Children & Families
You can advance your nonprofit volunteer work into a paying job. Whether your interest lies in supporting the arts, education, environmental conservation, or social justice, many positions in nonprofit work require the advanced knowledge and skills of a bachelor’s program. Graduates can obtain managerial positions in fundraising, public relations, and marketing.Learn More About Nonprofit Careers
Introverts can excel in any career they choose, but some bachelor’s-level occupations may prove more suitable to individuals who need space and solitude to recharge and focus. Introverts can choose from a wide variety of options, including accountant, zookeeper, and graphic designer. Each of these jobs provides frequent opportunities to work solo.
Traditionally, colleges primarily served high school graduates enrolling in a four-year, on-campus program. However, online schools and universities open the door to a variety of other avenues, including part-time programs for busy adults, accelerated programs for students who want to finish as soon as possible, dual-track programs which allow students to earn multiple credentials at once, and programs for individuals without a high school diploma.
While not possessing a high school diploma certainly adds difficulty to obtaining a bachelor’s degree, students can still earn one. Some community colleges allow individuals without a high school diploma to enroll under “nontraditional” status. These students take high school and associate-level courses with the ultimate goal of transferring to an online bachelor’s program at a college or university. Students may also complete a GED before applying to online colleges.
Dual-track programs feature additional requirements to earn more than one degree, certificate, or college credential at once. Dual-degree programs most commonly involve earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree simultaneously. Popular dual-degree programs include dual BSN/MSN nursing programs and specialized business administration programs that provide both a BA and an MBA. These options often focus on a specific area such as health administration, finance, marketing, or human resource management.
Accelerated programs may utilize a variety of methods to offer a faster pathway to a bachelor’s degree. Many accelerated programs provide new students with college credit based on their life and work experiences. This typically involves an intensive process of building a portfolio for evaluation. Additional methods include dual-track options, shorter semesters, summer and winter courses, and a larger number of courses at one time.
Designed with busy adults and working professionals in mind, part-time online bachelor’s degrees allow extra time for completion of requirements. Students typically take only one or two courses at a time, according to their personal schedule and ability. In some cases, courses may be entirely self-paced within a set window of time. More commonly, courses require completion of weekly units and assignments. Part-time bachelor’s programs can take five or six years to complete without an associate degree.
Applying for scholarships remains one of the most efficient ways to find money to pay for college tuition, fees, and books. You can find several examples below.
Amount Awarded: $2,000
Deadline: March 2019
Eligibility & Requirements: The Jeanette Rankin scholarship assists low-income women over the age of 35. Applicants must pursue their first bachelor’s degree from a nonprofit, regionally accredited institution. The application requires letters of recommendation.
Amount Awarded: $500
Deadline: April 2019
Eligibility & Requirements: This annual scholarship goes to full-time or part-time students pursuing an accredited online bachelor’s degree. Applicants must answer the question, “How is your degree program preparing you to achieve your dreams?”
Amount Awarded: $500
Deadline: April 2019
Eligibility & Requirements: This award benefits bachelor’s degree students studying childhood development, early childhood education, educational administration, secondary education, or special education. Candidates should possess at least a 3.5 GPA.
Amount Awarded: $2,500
Deadline: January 2019
Eligibility & Requirements: Applicants must be full-time nursing students in a BSN program. The scholarship requires a minimum GPA of 2.5 and an essay of 500 words or less.