Degrees you can earn even when you're swamped

Degrees for busy people

Is a jam-packed schedule keeping you away from pursuing a college degree? Here are seven online degrees that can accommodate your busy life.

By Lia Sestric
In a perfect world, 24 hours would be enough to accomplish everything we want to do in a single day. But in the real world, time often gets away from us.
So if you have put off plans to attend college because you can't find the time, online education may be a good choice for you.
"Online education opens up possibilities for many people who would otherwise not be able to be part of the world of higher education," says Kris Brandenburger, faculty chair of undergraduate studies at Sofia University in Silicon Valley.
"It provides working adults and others with complex lives the opportunity to earn fully accredited degrees in an environment that can be personal, collaborative, and challenging," says Brandenburger.
It is important to note, however, that online learning does require hard work and discipline, and may not be for everyone. But if it is convenience you are after, online education can give you that.
Ready to learn more? Here are seven online degrees that could fit into your hectic schedule.

Online Degree #1: Bachelor's in Health Services Administration

Do you have a soft spot for helping people? If you're interested in making a difference in health care, but would rather not work in direct patient care, you might want to consider a degree in health services administration. And if you think your schedule is too slammed to pursue this degree, think again - an online program could provide the solution.
The Online Advantage: "New technology is constantly being used in health services administration," says Michael Detzel, associate director of the online college at Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati. "Online programs make use of these technologies to give graduates hands-on experience with the real world applications they will be using in the field."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Health Care Administration Program.
What You May Learn: Students could learn all the ins and outs of overseeing health care facilities and the services they provide, says the College Board, an organization that administers the SAT. Instruction may cover multiple areas, which could include financial management, human resources, and policy making. Common courses include health care ethics, anatomy and physiology, as well as statistics, and accounting.
Potential Career Path*: Medical and health services manager

Online Degree #2: Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Education

You liked to play teacher as a kid, but life circumstances held you back from pursuing a career as an educator. An online degree in early childhood education could allow you to stick to your current responsibilities, but give you the opportunity to fulfill this dream.
The Online Advantage:  While face-to-face programs make use of technology, it is not to the same level as a "fully online and technologically dependent degree program," says Stephanie Burak Fehlenberg, an instructional design specialist and education consultant based in Palatine, IL.
"Since preschoolers are now learning with iPads - among other instructional technology resources - early childhood teachers need to get very comfortable with instructional technology," Fehlenberg says. "There's really no better way to do it than to be immersed in the technology as a student, so when you are hired to teach, you have hours of practice both teaching and learning with various technologies."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Early Childhood Education Program.
What You May Learn: Students learn how to create and manage a nurturing, safe classroom where every student thrives, says the College Board. Coursework may include child development, curriculum methods, and instructional design.
Potential Career Path: Preschool teacher

Online Degree #3: Bachelor's in Management Information Systems (MIS)

Are you both computer and business savvy? Perhaps even a good problem solver? You could earn a bachelor's in management information systems, which could hone these skills and prepare you to pursue an in-demand career. The best part? You can earn this degree online.
The Online Advantage: "Degrees with specializations in the IT field allow individuals to gain competitive skills and management knowledge," says Sher Downing, executive director of online academic services at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
She says that online students have the ability to learn via the Internet while still maintaining their regular employment. So, they're also able to utilize the workplace to test the knowledge gained in their degree programs, Downing says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Online IT and Information Systems Program.
What You May Learn: A student will commonly learn how businesses use information systems to improve their operations, says the College Board. One may take courses such as systems analysis and design, managing information systems, and emerging technologies.
Potential Career Path: Computer and information systems manager

Online Degree #4: Bachelor's in Psychology

Why do you have that overly crammed schedule? You can blame it on human nature perhaps. And if you're curious about human behavior, why not study psychology? An online degree in psychology could be earned on your time, even when you're preoccupied with personal matters.
The Online Advantage: Brandenburger says that the online environment allows for deep introspection on the part of each student as they apply the theoretical models they'll study as part of earning a psychology degree to themselves. "It may not be for everyone who wants to study psychology, but for many, the online environment will actually be more engaging and educationally rewarding than in-person learning," Brandenburger says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Psychology Program.
What You May Learn: Ready to study the way humans and animals act, feel, and learn? As a psychology major, you could explore and study the life of the mind, says the College Board. Students might have to do research and maybe even be a guinea pig themselves. Some courses may include neuroscience, perception and sensation, and research methods in psychology.
Potential Career Path: Social worker

Online Degree #5: Associate's in Paralegal Studies

Are you very particular about the way daily tasks must be completed? That's quite okay. In fact, this is a great trait to have if you're sifting through legal documents as a lawyer's right hand - also known as a paralegal. Want to pursue a paralegal career despite having limited time? An online program could be your match.
The Online Advantage: Fehlenberg says that it comes down to the ease of studying the course material when you have a busy schedule. "[T]he foundational materials you would have to review while enrolled in a paralegal associate's degree program can be read or watched from a mobile device while commuting on the train, waiting for a meeting to start, while taking lunch, and really during any break in the day," she says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Paralegal Studies Program.
What You May Learn: Does legal research and writing interest you? As a paralegal student, you could prepare to work under the supervision of a lawyer or court, says the College Board. You may also learn how to use the online legal database LEXIS/NEXIS and practice putting your research skills to use by drafting briefs and other legal documents.
Potential Career Path: Paralegal

Online Degree #6: Bachelor's in Business Administration

Is managing a household one of your daily jobs (in addition to your 9 to 5 gig)? Do you feel like you hit a glass ceiling at work? If so, consider this: A bachelor's in business administration could open up career possibilities where you can have a stronger voice and get paid for it. Plus, you can study online when it's convenient for you.
The Online Advantage: An online business program could increase your chances of finding a job, says Detzel. "Students interested in enrolling in an online business program don't find themselves limited to the programs available at local schools, but can find a business concentration that is not widely available, making them a more marketable employment candidate after graduation," he says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Business Administration Program.
What You May Learn: A business administration and management student could learn how to plan, organize, and direct the activities of an organization, says the College Board. Some common courses may include economics, management information systems, financial management, and business policy and strategy.
Potential Career Path: Financial manager

Online Degree #7: Bachelor's Degree in Accounting

The weekly spending allowance is pre-planned. Spreadsheets are compiled with financial forecasts. Sound like you? If you already have a knack for calculating numbers, why not pursue a degree in accounting? By earning it online, you can balance studies and a jam-packed schedule.
The Online Advantage: Studying online prepares you for the real deal, as technology plays an integral role in the accounting field says Detzel.
"Gone are the days of the accountant with a yellow note pad and calculator. Computer applications, complex software, and word processing are just some of the technologies future accountants can expect to use on a daily basis. Online programs offer classes that complement the core accounting curriculum with an emphasis on these computerized accounting applications," he says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Accounting Program.
What You May Learn: An accounting program teaches students to interpret how an institution is performing financially, says the College Board. Classes for this degree might include multiple levels of accounting courses, as well as business law and auditing.

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