Ready to take your career to the next level? Interested in a master’s degree but aren't sure you can commit to a full-time program on campus? If so, you're not alone. Completing an advanced degree is never easy, and it can be even more challenging if you're already working a full-time job, have a family, or have other life obligations that limit your free time.
The good news? There's an option for pursuing a graduate degree in a way that's more flexible, adaptable, and accessible to those with busy lives or other situations that make an on campus degree impractical.
Why get a master’s degree online? An online degree provides the unique opportunity to expand your knowledge, hone your expertise, and develop your skills from the comfort and convenience of your own home. Whether you choose to enroll part-time or full-time, there are numerous reasons to get a master’s degree online from a reputable university.
Reason 1: Flexibility
First and foremost, an online master’s degree offers unrivaled flexibility when compared to an on-campus graduate program that requires you to attend classes in person. Rather than having to commute to campus for each of your classes, you can simply log into your online account and enjoy more flexible e-learning. In many cases, online postgraduate courses are flexible enough to accommodate just about any schedule, allowing you to pursue your degree without missing out on your other important life obligations.
Online master’s degrees, for example, are especially attractive to those who work full-time jobs. When you work 40 hours a week, finding the time to commute to campus and spend hours in a classroom at specific times may simply not be possible.
However, these same full-time workers can enroll in a remote degree program, working their schooling around their busy schedules. A student may set aside an hour or two each night after work to pursue their master’s degree remotely. Being able to work on your own schedule allows you the flexibility you need to succeed no matter what life throws your way.
Reason 2: Accessibility
Another reason to consider an online master’s degree (and one that people often overlook) is the improved accessibility this type of degree format offers. Unfortunately, getting to a physical campus for graduate coursework isn't easy for everyone. This is especially true for those with mobility issues, underlying health conditions, or other challenges that prevent them from being able to easily navigate a large campus.
With an online degree program, all you need is a computer and a reliable internet connection to pursue a master’s degree from just about anywhere. There's no need to commute and get around a physical campus, which can make a graduate degree much more accessible to those with mobility challenges.
Likewise, online degree programs are more accessible to those living far away from the school they wish to attend. With an online degree program, you can live across the country or even across the globe from your chosen school and still obtain a degree from that institution without having to relocate. This is huge when you consider the doors for opportunity that this opens; with online degree programs, students are no longer restricted to only attend schools within commuting distance.
Online programs also are better at meeting learners where they are. They can be far more accessible than face-to-face options for learners who need more time with course material or use screen readers or closed captioning in order to help their understanding.
Reason 3: Course Options
No matter what kind of master’s degree you're interested in, there's a solid chance you can find the same course options in an online program as you can in an in-person program. Advancements in technology have made it possible to cover just about any course topic online without students needing to be physically present in a classroom, so you can get the same quality educational experience from the comfort of your home (or anywhere else in the world).
Reason 4: Cost Effectiveness
Compared to traditional on-campus graduate degree programs, online programs also tend to be much more cost-effective. This is important when you consider that the cost of a master’s degree is generally not cheap. In fact, the cost of a Master of Arts in the United States now averages nearly $66,000, according to the Education Data Initiative. Whether you'll be paying your way through school, taking out loans, or exploring other financial aid options, that's a significant sum of money. It's understandable, then, that you may want to find ways to save as much as you can.
With an online degree program, the costs per credit hour are typically about the same as that of an on-campus program. However, you can save a considerable amount of money on your graduate education in other ways when you attend online. Consider, for example, that you'll be able to avoid commuting to campus a few times per week. Depending on how far you live from campus, that could add up to a large savings in fuel (and wear and tear on your vehicle) in a short period of time.
Likewise, you can save on living expenses with an online degree because you don't need to live on campus (or even close to campus). Depending on the cost of living near the school you choose, this can also add up to some significant savings without sacrificing the quality of your education.
Reason 5: Networking Opportunities
Another thing to consider when it comes to an online degree program is that this option provides all kinds of opportunities for networking that you may not have access to in a more traditional degree program. In many ways, an online education can broaden your networking scope because you're not limited by a physical campus.
With an online program, you'll enjoy unique networking opportunities that may allow you to connect with industry professionals and leaders from all over the world. This can give you a competitive edge by connecting you with potential work opportunities when you complete your degree.
You might learn, for example, that one of your classmates who lives across the country works for a company that is hiring people in your field. You may be able to use this connection to leverage an interview. Likewise, your online program may include live presentations from experts in your field that you would otherwise not have been able to connect with on a physical campus. Because career advancement in many industries is all about who you know, these additional networking opportunities can really make all the difference in your future job prospects.
Reason 6: Skills Development
When you complete an online master’s degree program, you'll also acquire some skills that you might not otherwise obtain from an on-campus graduate program. By its very nature, online learning requires a great deal of digital literacy. You'll need to be able to navigate various learning software and e-learning platforms, as well as complete tasks (such as online presentations) as part of your studies. These digital literacy skills can pay off many times over when it comes time to search for a job in your field, as these skills are heavily valued in today's job market.
Online degree programs also require a lot of self-discipline. Because you're not required to attend class on-campus, it's more or less up to you to work your studies into your schedule. This level of freedom and personalization comes with a lot of responsibility, as you'll need to be disciplined and self-motivated to stick with your studies and complete your degree. This level of self-discipline will also pay off in your future career prospects, as employers are always looking for candidates with these kinds of qualities.
Learn More, Today
If you're serious about pursuing continuing education without sacrificing your current job or slacking in other areas of your life, then getting an online master’s degree can be a great option. With the added flexibility, convenience, and cost-effectiveness of remote learning, there are so many reasons to choose this path—and you'll enjoy the same career advancement opportunities once you complete your program!
Interested in learning more about online master’s degrees in your field? Explore the many graduate programs offered through the University of Minnesota. From there, you can learn more about specific programs or reach out to request additional information.