The 8 Most Popular Online Degrees
Students taking online classes were part of a nationwide enrollment group of 5.6 million people in 2009, an increase of one million students from a year earlier.
The spike of one million students was a 21 percent increase from the year before, the highest-ever annual increase for online enrollment figures.
Basically, it's easier than ever for people who want to enroll in online classes.
The 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning polled more than 2,500 colleges and universities and found that 5.6 million students were enrolled in at least one Web-based course in the fall of 2009, the most recent term in which figures were available.
Reasons for the results seem to vary. For one, the sluggish economy has played an integral role in the number of students going back to school. Furthermore, the quality of an online education is steadily growing with advances in technology. According to the Sloan survey, 66 percent of college administrators said online education was the same or better than face-to-face classes.
If there are so many people taking online courses, what fields are these 5.6 million students getting into?
Prospective students looking to enroll in online degree programs may want to consider the following degrees when looking to education as a bridge to jumpstart their professional careers.
Here are the top eight most popular online degrees from the fall of 2009 in a recent study released by Eduventures, an industry leader in research and consulting for higher education institutions.
The major with one of the greatest opportunities for growth and wealth topped the list in rather anticlimactic fashion. Not surprisingly, online students are looking to become familiar with business strategies and computer skills that can translate effectively into the modern-day workplace. Possible future careers for current students: entrepreneurial endeavors, consulting, business/financial analyst, business operations, marketing. The wide range of potential careers associated with a business degree should be an enticing factor for students who are unsure on their choice of major.
2. Computer and Information Technology (IT)
What better way to hone your computer technology skills than from your own computer? Online students have this luxury. The assumed salary for an entry-level IT position straight out of college makes this a desirable major as well. Possible future careers for current students: IT/technical support, consulting, computer programming, program designing, data communications.
3. Criminal Justice
Hey, there’s nothing wrong with going to school online with aspirations of becoming the next Jack McCoy from Law and Order. Criminal justice offers arguably the most diverse range of possible careers for students: law enforcement (police officer, sheriff, highway patrol, detective); federal law enforcement (FBI, CIA, DEA, Secret Service); forensic science/crime scene investigation; legal/courts (judge, defense attorney, prosecutor, paralegal, court clerk).
I expect this major to make its way up the list in the next three to five years. Why? There’s probably not a more in-demand industry than health care right now. Those jobs aren’t going anywhere, and they’ll probably increase in the next few years. Possible future careers for current students: registered nurse, nutrition.
Think of the role advanced technology plays in the world of teaching and higher education. Now think of the benefit of becoming acclimated with contemporary education by taking classes online. It’s a perfect fit. Possible future careers for current students: teaching, administration.
6. Health Care
Similar to nursing, obtaining a degree in health care is one of the safer selections when planning for your future. Possible future careers for current students: dentist, laboratory science, medicine, pharmacy, therapy/rehabilitation, optometry.
I’m a little surprised this major wasn’t higher up on the list. Imagine the experience you could gain as a student from taking a communications course online. Video production. Social media engagement. Webinars. Email, IM, Skype, iChat and the like. Communicating effectively in a virtual environment is starting to become a mandatory qualifier for just about any job these days. Possible future careers for current students: marketing, social media, public relations, journalism.
The study of human behavior should be a degree that’s constantly in demand. Possible future careers for current students: psychologist, counselor, therapy, social work.
Want more information about obtaining your degree online while balancing a busy schedule? Check out our blog entry on five tips for effective time management for online students.