Online Graduate School Application & Degree Guide by UWireToday.com

An online graduate school is accredited and qualified to provide students pursuing a master’s or doctorate (Ph. D) with the respective degree in one of many educational programs. Students need to have either a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree before they are eligible to enroll in a graduate school program, in addition to at least a 3.0 grade point average. Moreover, having a master’s degree is necessary before continuing in a doctorate program that culminates with awarding the student a Ph.D. diploma.

Information Regarding Online Graduate School Programs

The most popular graduate school programs offered by online schools are Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts in Education, Master of Arts in Engineering and Doctorates in Computer Science or Law. Length of time to complete a graduate program ranges from two to six years, depending on relevant requirements, amount of internship experience needed and how long it takes the student to finish his or her dissertation.

Completing one of two standardized tests called the Graduate Record Examination or the Graduate Management Admission Tests is usually part of most graduate school programs admission procedures. The tests consists of three sections designed to measure a student’s ability with quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning and analytical writing

Scores provided by the GRE are employed by online graduate school admissions representatives as a supplement to letters of recommendation by teachers and undergraduate course grades in order to determine whether the student is a viable candidate for their program. For more information regarding testing dates and cost of taking the test, visit the GRE Examination. Business and management graduate programs will ask that students take the GMAT prior to applying for a program. The Graduate Management Admission Test is taken on a computer and is comprised of four sections–Verbal Skills, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative/Mathematical and Analytical Writing. One advantage the GMAT has over the GRE is its ability to adjust to an individual’s knowledge level. Initially, a student is given questions that are considered to be of medium difficulty

The program then automatically scores each answer as the student enters them, which influences the level of the following questions. So if you answer questions correctly on the GMAT, the ensuing questions given to you will be more difficult than if you had answered with incorrect answers. Find out more about the GMAT at the examination’s official website: Graduate Management Admission Test.

Admission into An Online Graduate School Program

graduate school computer labGaining admission into a graduate program is different than simply enrolling in undergraduate classes. Representatives overseeing the graduate program examine various documents that the potential grad student provides to them before deciding if the student possesses the exceptional qualities needed to succeed in a graduate program.

What is needed to apply to a graduate program:

  1. Scores from your GRE or GMAT examination
  2. Transcripts covering all undergraduate courses
  3. A statement of interest/letter of intent–this is an original, creative statement composed by the student that states why he or she wants a career in this particular field, what goals they wish to accomplish and any relevant skills or talents they have which would contribute to their success in this graduate program. A letter of intent is essentially a resume written in essay form but resembling a body of prose that reflects the student’s own voice and ability to grab the interest of the program’s commissioners
  4. Letter of recommendation–these are letters (having two or three is advisable) written by any of the student’s former undergraduate instructors who worked closely with the student and can vouch for his or her academic talents. Letters of recommendation can also come from employers with whom the student worked as an intern while taking undergraduate classes

It may take several weeks before receiving an answer concerning your application for admittance to an online graduate school program. Acceptance rates differ according to program type, with some programs being more competitive than others. Psychology, medicine, philosophy and physics are some of the most difficult graduate programs to enter due to intensity of the material and amount of research required to develop an exceptional dissertation.

What is a Dissertation?

A dissertation is frequently a required part of an online graduate school program, especially with programs involving research, laboratory studies or analysis of new and/or existing ideas regarding current trends within that field of study. Graduate students initially propose an original idea for the dissertation to program directors, who either accept or deny the proposal. If accepted, the grad student then proceeds to gather information necessary to defend his or her ideas in the dissertation which is presented orally at the end of the program

If program directors do not think the graduate student adequately defended the dissertation’s thesis, he or she will have to rewrite the thesis until it is considered acceptable. Until then, the grad student will not be given a a Ph. D. degree or earn the title of “Doctor”.

Paying for Online Graduate School

Graduate students may find assistance in paying for their education through:

Private loans (variable or fixed rate interest)

Unlike Pell Grants that are available to income-eligible undergraduate students and do not need repaid, Private Loans do need to be repaid when the student has completed his or her graduate program. More information regarding graduate loans can be found at Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Accredited Online Graduate School Programs

Before applying to an online graduate school, students should make sure the school is fully accredited by regional and national accrediting organizations. Regional organizations that are recognized as leaders in determining the quality and standards practiced by online and traditional higher educational institutions are:

  1. New England Association of Schools & Colleges
  2. North Central Association Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
  3. Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Higher Education
  4. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  5. Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  6. Northwest Association Of Schools And Colleges

Additional accrediting agencies to look for when searching for an excellent online graduate school program include:

  1. Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education
  2. Council for Higher Education Accreditation
  3. American Psychological Association
  4. Distance Education And Training Council
  5. National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

Things to Consider Before Applying to Graduate School

Many students who begin a graduate program but fail to complete its requirements simply failed to realize how intense graduate courses can be. A graduate student needs to devote 90 percent of his or her life to graduate studies, internships, research and writing papers as well as the all-important dissertation. If you do not think you will be able to commit the majority of your time to an online graduate school program, you may consider waiting until your life is less occupied with other things

Additionally, graduate school is quite expensive, regardless if you take online classes or attend a traditional college or university. Make sure that the master’s or Ph. D degree you eventually earn in a certain career field will pay for the loans you take out as a grad student. High-paying jobs such as doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, engineers and business administration positions are careers that can guarantee an above-average annual salary. However, earning a master’s or Ph. D. in academic fields such as philosophy, the arts or the humanities provide minimal job opportunities that are extremely competitive and mostly involving teaching at universities or colleges

Best Graduate Degrees

To learn more about the best graduate degrees by category or degree type.

caribbean beach

Caribbean University Options

The Caribbean Islands are known for their sandy beaches, aquamarine colored waters, and fun in the sun atmosphere. But many islands also offer educational programs for college students, undergrad and graduate, that allows you to experience the culture and laid back vibe of the islands while earning college credits or simply expanding your knowledge of other cultures and languages. There are also exciting opportunities available in the Caribbean to do volunteer work and take language courses. Whatever your education aspirations may be, the Caribbean islands have a program to fit your choice of adventure. Another perk of studying in the Caribbean for U.S. students is that English is spoken on most of the islands, which makes it easier to become acclimated to the exotic surroundings.

Academic Programs University of the West Indies- Barbados The Cave Hill Campus located in Barbados, offers both undergraduate and graduate curriculums in Education, Law, and the Social Sciences, to name a few. With campuses also in Jamaica and Trinidad, you have your choice of many beautiful scenic locations. The Cave Hill Campus prides itself on promoting study abroad programs and welcomes international students to its campus. The campus has a great view of the Caribbean Sea and is in close proximity to the island’s capital.

One of the unique experiences of studying in the Caribbean, and specifically at Cave Hill, is the combination of indoor-outdoor classroom activities. The school takes full advantage of its tropical surroundings and aims to give students a well-rounded island experience.

Spartan Health Sciences University- St. Lucia Spartan Health Sciences University located on the paradise island of St. Lucia offers a medical graduate program. The program is a 36 month accelerated medical degree curriculum plus 20 months additional clinical science work in various locations in the US. , Canada, and the U.K. The University boasts itself as offering one of the finest medical degree programs for one of the most affordable tuition prices. With Spartan, you get the beauty of St. Lucia combined with a quality education.

Volunteer Programs Global Volunteers- Jamaica Volunteering and helping others is an amazing and rewarding feeling, and to be able to do it in the midst of beautiful Jamaica is even more exciting. Global Volunteers is an organization that offers various volunteer vacations in Jamaica. There are many benefits gained from these programs. Students come away with far more than a vacation experience and it’s much more fulfilling than the usual spring break weekend. Improving classrooms, rebuilding roads, cleaning up and restoring healthcare facilities for the underprivileged, and promoting proper education for young girls, are just some of the ways you can help make things better in this Caribbean community. Volunteering with Global Volunteers is the perfect way to combine learning and giving back to the community in one vacation. (http://www.globalvolunteers.org/jamaica/jamaica_projects.asp)

Earthwatch Institute- Puerto Rico Though Puerto Rico is a part of the United States, it is nestled in the Caribbean Sea and has some of the most clear blue waters and breathtaking scenery of the any of the islands; however, the Earthwatch Institute’s volunteer expeditions will take you into the depths of the rainforests. Volunteers are taught techniques that help to sustain and manage the rainforests, such as measuring trees, counting frogs and lizards, and helping to set up new plots for planting different trees and shrubbery. Don’t worry, time is also set aside for hiking, swimming, relaxing and enjoying the sights and sounds of the forests, while partaking of the delicious Puerto Rican cuisine and culture. Saving the rainforests is a vital part of maintaining the quality and resources of our planet. Joining an Earthwatch expedition will enlighten you to the importance of the rainforest preservation projects. So pitch in and do your part for the planet with Earthwatch Institute as your guide. (http://www.earthwatch.org/exped/)

Language Courses CELA Centro de Linguistica Aplicada- Margarita Island, Venezuela No mistake here, the gloriously beautiful and luxurious Margarita Island in Venezuela is also a part of the Caribbean Sea family of islands. At CELA, you can learn Spanish in the Caribbean. Courses are held for small groups of students year round. The classes are taught in five different levels of difficulty and they even have specialized Spanish lessons for medical professionals, law, and business students. Besides learning the language, this course offers excursions to the exquisite beaches and sites of Margarita Island. This is the epitome of a learning vacation. (http://cela-ve.com/spanishcourses/)

The Language Travel Company- Guadeloupe Learn to speak French on a Guadeloupe vacation filled with Caribbean memories of white sand beaches, turquoise waters, scuba diving, and sailing. The Language Travel Company’s school located in Saint-Anne, Guadeloupe is only 50 yards away from those gorgeous beaches, and places you right in the middle of Guadeloupe culture; which is a blend of French, African, and Native American traditions. The classes only allow five students at once and have the best in comfort and technology to offer, from an internet café to a state-of-the-art library facility and Wi-Fi access. Students are able to accelerate their learning by adding one on one personal lessons to their existing classes. Just note, that if you are a beginner, this French language vacation is not for you. Students enrolled are required to be at an intermediate level. But if you are on a professional path where speaking French is required, this opportunity may be the perfect educational retreat. (http://www.thelanguagetravelcompany.com/sainte-anne.php)

The Caribbean islands have much to offer students seeking non-traditional educational and volunteering opportunities. For most of the university courses, volunteer programs, and language classes, applying online is easy and very similar to applying for programs locally in the United States. Do your own research; speak with online advisors, which on many websites were available through virtual chat, and explore financial aid and other payment options with an advisor. Once you decide which experience suits your needs and your wallet, you can be well on your way to a fun and enlightening Caribbean experience

YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGbf_C12d2M (This vid is silent. It is an array of beautiful pics taken by the Earthwatch Puerto Rico team in 2010. It’s beautiful)

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An Introduction to Online Learning and Web Based Education

Since the 1990s the rise of the internet has brought everything online, including learning. Elementary schools are using the internet for more interactive learning; many middle schools require students to take a computer course. High schools have started allowing students to take courses online in order to fulfill their graduation requirements. Whiz kids might even find that they are able to dual enroll and take college courses online while earning their high school diploma

College and universities are no exception, if anything they set the precedent for the online learning movement. According to the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board’s 2011 Survey of Online Learning more than 6 million higher education students were enrolled in at least one online course during fall 2010. Approximately 31% of students were taking an online course; in the past ten years this number has tripled

Unsurprisingly the majority of these online school students were computer and information science students with business students following closely behind

Students are not the only ones taking advantage of online learning. Research has also found that 67% of professors believe that technology such as podcasts, video, and blogs are important learning tools. The use of technology in schools is abundant as students begin to use tablets to take notes, eBooks instead of traditional textbooks, and communicate virtually with their peers.

Why Online?

There are many reasons why students choose online learning, the most common reason is convenience. Being able to take a course at home makes it much easier for many people who may not have access to transportation, are working full-time, or simply have a busy schedule to start earning their degree at an online school. Cost is another factor as transportation costs to and from campus is cut down, as is the possibility of needing to pay for childcare or losing hours at work. Many students who find themselves at a traditional college and university also take advantage of online courses which may give them the opportunity to pursue extracurricular activities or work part-time.

Is It For Everyone?

What some adults fear with online learning is that they are not “tech-savvy”. The majority of online courses use platforms such as Blackboard or Moodle to engage with their students. In some cases teachers may step it up a notch and use video conferencing to lecture. Many guides are available to teach new students how to use the software and oftentimes the professor is one of the best resources for getting to know the platform being used. You don’t have to be Bill Gates to navigate through an online learning course. Again, what attracts most students to online learning is the convenience so the “everyday person” can log-on and earn their degree rather than sit in a classroom amongst young adults

Some students who may be wary of completing certain courses online will also find that hybrid courses are another option. With hybrid courses students will find their hours are split between meeting online and on-campus

It is also important to note that just because your classes online, doesn’t necessarily mean your tests will be online. Some professors may prefer that students come to a local campus so that their exams may be proctored.

Everyone Is Doing It

For many years, for-profit colleges and universities ruled the scene. As the world turned more towards the use of computers, cell phones, and tablets many more schools began to offer online courses and full online degree programs. Schools such as Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, community colleges, and probably your local university began offering robust degree programs for the ever-changing population.

Learn for Free

With the boost of online education, many educators have realized that they can start providing education for free. Programs like Udacity, MIT open courseware, iTunes U, and many more have led the way in free online education. While the majority of these options are only courses and not substantial degree programs, they do allow prospective students to take an online course and see if it is a good option for them. It also allows anyone who is interested in learning something new to do so, without having to cough up tuition fees. Many employees and those seeking work will find that these are easy, and inexpensive, ways to learn new skills and beef up their resumes

Online learning is often times referred to as a “trend”, yet the numbers indicate that this isn’t a trend that will soon flat line. We do our shopping online, bank online, and communicate online therefore learning online is simply something that has moved out of the classroom and onto our computers.

Video Introduction to Online Learning

online school laptop

Popular Online Schools Ranked by UWireToday.com

Many online schools offer degree and certification programs for all levels, including high school, trade, vocational, associates, bachelors, masters and doctorate. In this blog post we summarize ten of the most popular online schools in the United States. These schools are listed in no particular order and the information provided should only be used as a reference. Selecting an online school is an important decision and one that should be well researched.

Table of Contents:

  1. Liberty University Online
  2. Walden University
  3. Ashford University
  4. Post University Online
  5. Strayer University
  6. Kaplan University
  7. Argosy University
  8. Devry University
  9. University of Phoenix
  10. Western Governor’s University

1. Liberty University Online

According to U.S. News and World Report and Barron’s Profiles of American colleges, Liberty University’s rank among online schools rose from average to excellent since 2011 due to its transfer-friendly credits, small class sizes and wide selection of degrees and certification programs. With over 55,000 students enrolled in online programs and nearly 70,000 students living on campus, Liberty University is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Eighty percent of students attending Liberty remain to enroll in additional courses rather than electing to enroll in another online school. Additionally, over 55 percent of Liberty’s students eventually complete their studies and obtain certifications or degrees. Programs consist of eight week modules, with online students able to access Liberty’s technical, academic and library resources 24/7.

Liberty is a non-profit educational institution that has low tuition rates as well as accommodating payment plans to assist students who are ineligible for federal financial aid.

2. Walden University

With over 60 academic programs providing associate, bachelor and master’s degrees as well as accreditation by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, Walden University is the choice of thousands of students seeking comprehensive and quality instruction from nearly 40,000 experienced professors located all over the world. Walden is known for its implementation of the U.S.’s first online master’s program in education called Educational Change and Technology Innovation.

Student support representatives are available in real-time through online chat, email or phone, making the enrollment and educational process easier for students who may experience difficulty with online school time management.

In 2011, G.I. Jobs magazine named Walden University as one of the friendliest schools for military personnel wanting to attend college. Additionally, Walden was ranked #2 as having the most online nursing graduate students attending one university.

3. Ashford University

Ashford University Online offers students nearly 50 programs from which to choose that include health care administration, psychology, accounting, early childhood education, communications and business administration. This university is recognized by the Higher Learning Commission, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities.

Students who have previously completed academic programs at other universities can transfer 90 credits when enrolling in a bachelor’s program at Ashford. In addition, students are not bound to a semester-based system integrated into traditional higher learning institutions. Instead, Ashford’s online students experience continuously run classes that offer weekly assignments which can be accessed and/or submitted at any time it is convenient for the student. Further, students receive unlimited access to services such as tutoring, counseling and one-on-one instructor communication.

4. Post University Online

Consistently ranked in the top 20 of online schools based in the U.S. as well as in the top 10 for providing financial aid services, Post University online allows students the choice of over 40 programs culminating in certification, associate, bachelor, master and doctorate degrees. Some of Post’s most popular programs include computer information systems, early childhood education, business administration, legal studies and human services.

Post also has a Master of Business Administration degree that offers students a choice of five different specialized fields from which to choose—Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Corporate Innovation and Finance. Most master’s degrees are completable within 24 months, with bachelor’s degree sometimes needing only 18 months to finish.

Online faculty consists of professors with Ph.D. Degrees who have working experience in their field of study. Additionally, Post provides all students with advising and tutoring services as well as access to a comprehensive virtual library.

5. Strayer University

Strayer University is unique in that it offers two kinds of online classes—synchronous and asynchronous. While synchronous classes meet every week at the same time (most weekends and nights), asynchronous courses can be logged into seven days a week at any time of the day. This flexibility afforded by Strayer makes it one of the more popular online schools with working students or students with young children at home.

Students new to Strayer are provided with free tutoring services if necessary for all introductory classes such as English, math, accounting and business. Certificate and degree programs offered by Strayer involve criminal justice, public administration, education, economics and health services.

Because the average student attending Strayer online courses is in their early to mid-thirties, many adults prefer the “older” atmosphere at Strayer and report that they feel a connection with their classmates which makes it easier to progress towards the completion of their degree.

All potential students need a high school diploma or GED before applying to one of Strayer’s programs. Graduate degree enrollees must submit a valid bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college, with the exception of the Executive Master’s of Business Administration degree. Strayer expects grad students to maintain a grade point average of at least 2.75 and a score of 450 or higher on the Graduate Management Admission Test.

6. Kaplan University

Kaplan University is comprised of four physical campuses and an expansive online program system taught by 4000 instructors and attended by almost 70,000 campus-based and online students. With over 80 degrees from which to choose, Kaplan students are able to earn accredited diplomas in fields as different as nursing and information technology. Other popular degree and certification programs available through Kaplan’s online schools are business administration, health sciences and criminal justice.

Home to the Concord Law School, Kaplan is one of the few online schools able to provide juris doctor degrees. Additionally, this university is currently accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools as well as the prestigious Higher Learning Commission.

Kaplan also has a Bachelor of Nursing program that is recognized by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Students also have access to LexisNexis library services due to Kaplan’s affiliation with the Washington Post Company. This database contains over 65,000 ebooks that directly assist students in completing assignments and producing quality research papers. Other services provided free of charge by Kaplan include academic tutoring, professional networking, resume assistance and how to prepare for a job interview.

7. Argosy University

Established in 2001 after the merger of the Medical Institute of Minnesota, the American School of Professional Psychology and the University of Sarasota, Argosy University incorporates components of these higher learning facilities to produce an excellent and extensive list of online programs. With physical campuses located in 12 states, Argosy provides online courses culminating in bachelor, master and doctoral degrees.

Argosy is known for its distinctive approach to online learning. Created by the Socrates Distance Learning Technologies Group, this learning strategy is taught to all online instructors who implement these techniques to facilitate the process of successfully completing an online program. In addition, students are given 24/7 access to technical support, tutoring services, academic advising and an online library exclusive to Argosy.

Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Argosy University offer various degree programs through their Arizona-based campus. This campus is comprised of the College of Undergraduate Studies, the College of Education, the College of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, The College of Health Sciences and the College of Business.

8. DeVry University

Recognized by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIM), Devry University’s online programs are designed to allow students to earn degrees as quickly as they can successfully complete assignments and earn credits assigned to that program. For example, students exhibiting good time management and studying skills may obtain an associate’s degree in one year instead of the usual two years. Master’s degrees may be earned in one year and bachelor’s degrees are potentially attainable in three years.

Examples of degrees attainable with completion of online programs include an Associate’s in Health Information Technology, Bachelor’s in Healthcare Management, Bachelor’s in Emergency Management, Associate’s of Web Graphic Design and doctorate programs in the College of Health Sciences and the College of Engineering and Information Science.

Devry also takes an active stance in assisting students who present financial difficulties with paying tuition costs by offering 7000 scholarships worth nearly $25 million. In fact, over 80 percent of Devry online students are eligible for and receive some form of financial aid, whether it is local, state or federal aid.

9. University of Phoenix

In 2010, the University of Phoenix had nearly 600,000 students enrolled in one of its many online programs. It offers open enrollment privileges, accepts credit transfers and requests that students attend an orientation workshop to enhance their online learning experience. Additionally, students with financial need may be eligible for a variety of grants awarded to the University of Phoenix that are intended to offset tuition costs. These grants include the Federal Pell Grant, the Academic Competitiveness Grant, the Federal Direct Student Loan Program, the Federal Perkins Loan, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and the Federal Direct PLUS Loan option for graduate students.

Regional accreditation has been awarded to the University of Phoenix since 1978 by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the Higher Learning Commission. Additionally, UOP’s School of Business is recognized by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs; its online College of Education is accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council and Kaplan’s College of Nursing’s bachelor’s and master’s programs have been accredited by CCNE, or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

10. Western Governor’s University

Western Governor’s online courses are attended by nearly 35,000 students in the U.S. as well as overseas military bases. It is a nonprofit, private university that does not require students provide ACT or SAT scores prior to enrolling. However, all students applying for a WG degree program must take an admissions examination and pass before being accepted.

Because this university does not depend on federal or state financial aid for support of its operating expenses, other foundations and corporations supply Western Governor’s University with funding. Some of these include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, American Express, Sun Microsystems and the Simmons Media Group.

Based in Indiana, WGU consists of four colleges providing students with the opportunity to receive accredited bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. These colleges include the College of Business, Teachers College, College of Information and Technology and the College of Health Professions. A working mentor is assigned to each student who is responsible for assisting the student through the enrollment process up to the time he or she receives a degree. Additionally, WGU students may take specific tests without needing to study if they reveal superior competency towards a certain subject.

Summary

Online schools are becoming recognized for providing a high level of education. While fake “diploma mills” still operate online and manage to scam thousands of dollars out of unsuspecting students, the majority of online schools, such as the schools mentioned above, provide outstanding educational programs for people wishing to open new employment opportunities for themselves and experience a lifetime career they truly enjoy.