8 Criteria for Choosing an Online Degree Program

Paul Snodgrass offers advice on finding the right school to suit your academic needs.


When Eddie Schepp started shopping for an online degree, the lieutenant at the Fairlawn, OH, Fire Department did his homework first. He realized that finding the right program and institution would require a roadmap of sorts to succeed. "I already have an associate's degree in fire protection...


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When Eddie Schepp started shopping for an online degree, the lieutenant at the Fairlawn, OH, Fire Department did his homework first. He realized that finding the right program and institution would require a roadmap of sorts to succeed.

"I already have an associate's degree in fire protection technology; however, I wanted to move up the proverbial corporate ladder," he says. "I recognized the need for more management and business knowledge, so I started looking into programs that were known more for their corporate and public safety academics as opposed to a program that was built on the fire science platform."

Schepp's research narrowed his degree field, which prompted the next question: Where do I find the right online institution? Many others get to this point with little help other than a Google search and a recommendation from a coworker. According to the Sloan Consortium, an organization dedicated to online education, more than 3.5 million students took at least one online course during the 2006 fall semester -- a staggering number representing 20% of all higher education courses. If you are searching for a quality online higher education institution, you have many options beyond specific degree programs to consider. In some ways, the choice is similar to the ageless question: What is the best pumper: The answers are always somewhat subjective. However, applying some measured research will narrow your choices, which should provide you with a "right fit."

Deciding which is the best college or university for you is an orderly process of due diligence. The questions posed in this article will allow you to winnow your list of prospective schools to a manageable handful that will undoubtedly suit your academic needs.

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