Getting an Associate's degree online is a great step forward for students who are seeking a better career. The online nature of the program allows students to pursue their education in their free time, from a home computer. This flexibility allows parents and full-time employed students to earn their two-year degree from the comfort of home without undue stress. If you are considering an online Associate's degree, however, you may be a bit skeptical. How can you be sure if the program you are interested in is legitimate? Fortunately, you have many resources available to you to determine if an online program is a good choice.
You'll want to ensure that any Associate's degree program you enter is accredited. This means that your degree is recognized as coming from a reputable and academically rigorous institution. If the program or institution from which you get your degree is not accredited, potential employers will not accept your degree as valid. There are many accreditation organizations that you can check with.
First, check out the U.S. Department of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs. USDE, or U.S. Department of Education, accredits schools and programs as a way of making sure that federal financial aid awards finance only high-quality programs with excellent academics and good administration practices. USDE provides an index of institutions, which you can easily search to determine if the school you are considering is a wise choice.
You can also visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or CHEA. This index lists over 7,800 postsecondary institutions and over 20,000 individual programs that are recognized and accredited. CHEA looks for quality in courses and degree programs as well as the commitment to quality-improvement.
You may already know that U.S. News and World Report provides information about institutions throughout the United States. The online education resource allows you to search for reputable schools according to search criteria such as program of study, cost of tuition, and availability of financial aid.
If you would like to do some further research about your prospective program's reputation, check out the Better Business Bureau to see if any students or alumni have filed complaints. While there will be disgruntled students at every institution, a great deal of negative feedback and complaints might indicate that the program is not a good choice. It is a good idea to find out, if you can, what alumni are achieving with their two-year degrees from the institution you are considering. Have they been able to find employment on the strength of the online Associate's degree?
Don't be shy about calling up a representative of the school or emailing your prospective professors to address your questions and concerns. Before investing money in an online degree program, it is important to be sure that it is a good fit for you.
If you decide to get your Associates degree online, you are likely attracted to the convenience and accessibility of online college. Of course, you will have to be careful that you select a program with a great reputation. With a little bit of research, you should find an excellent online program that meets your needs.