Going back to school doesn't mean you have to spend four years in a classroom setting. You could earn an online degree in as little as two years.We all know that education can open up plenty of doors, but it can also be a huge drain on your time and resources. Whether you're trying to balance a full-time career, a part-time job, or important family commitments, tackling four years of face-to-face classroom time is a daunting prospect.
But if you're thinking of throwing in the towel before you've even started, consider pursuing an online degree that you could earn in as little as two years. Whether you'd like to go back to school to earn an associate's or you're ready to pursue a master's, there's an online program to fit your needs and aspirations. While an online degree isn't the best fit for every student, it can offer busy people enough flexibility to customize their learning experience and study routines to fit their schedules.
Wondering what kind of online degrees you could earn in two years? Keep reading to discover some promising options.
The Princeton Review, which specializes in test preparation and higher education, reports that this degree may prepare students to apply academic theories to real-world problems, tackling topics such as globalization, ethics, and managing diversity.
Perks of Learning Online: Business trends are constantly changing, and distance education can give students the opportunity to learn from the world's top business thinkers, regardless of where those experts live, says Tom Pieplow, the dean of the College of Business at Athens State University. While a traditional classroom may only give you access to these top business minds through textbooks, Pieplow points out that in an online class, students can take advantage of educational software such as Wimba to engage in an actual dialogue with their lecturers around the world.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.
- Financial analyst
- Human resources manager
The College Board, the organization which administers the SAT, notes that accounting degrees prepare students to work with balance sheets, adhere to GAAP (general accepted accounting principles), and gain a solid understanding of the ins and outs of tax filings.
Perks of Learning Online: There are plenty of benefits to getting an associate's degree in accounting online. Because accounting professionals use online tools to work with colleagues and clients around the world, "distance learning actually does a better job of replicating the work environment that students will be exposed to," Pieplow points out.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.
Students in this field learn new computer languages and may get hands-on experience debugging programs and writing code, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.
Perks of Learning Online: "This is an area where cutting-edge research is emerging rapidly," says Pieplow. And with the ever-changing landscape of this field, online students will have the advantage of learning about new computer science principles while they work within the very medium they're studying.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
- Computer support specialist
- Computer programmer
Studying educational administration prepares you to serve as a school principal or hold another leadership role in the field of education, according to the College Board. You'll learn how to supervise teachers as well as how to run schools and education programs.
Perks of Learning Online: Many of the students who are earning an online master's degree in education are also working professional teachers who are instructing their own classrooms, notes Meredith Toth, assistant division director for online programs at Arizona State University Online. "Working teachers can't come to campus very easily, as they teach during the day and are grading papers and preparing lesson plans at night, so taking courses online offers them the opportunity to continue developing their skill sets while teaching," she adds.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Education Leadership Program.
- Elementary, middle, or high school principal
According to the Princeton Review, students in an international relations and affairs program explore international policy, economics, and statistics. They may also get an understanding of macro and microeconomics.
Perks of Learning Online: One of the best ways to prepare for a career in international relations is to interact with people living in different communities. Earning this degree online allows students to do just that by "using state-of-the-art technology that enables live, real-time discussion between world-class faculty and students living around the world," notes Matthew Meekins, director of operations of online programs at the American University School of International Service.
Next step: Click to Find the Right International Business Program.
- Political scientist
Public health students learn how to assess health problems and health care policies, manage health care systems, and promote well-being and disease prevention, notes the Princeton Review.
Perks of Learning Online: Because public health students often learn about populations around the world, they can benefit from studying and collaborating with professionals in various, far-reaching places. "Online public health students [can] interact with a network of global colleagues and expand their network," says Stacey DiLorenzo, executive director of communications at the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University.
She adds that some students may be pursuing this degree while they are actually doing field work and serving communities in need across the globe. Choosing an online degree allows students to carry out this practical work in different locations, without interrupting their educational process.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Public Health Program.
- Medical or health services manager
According to the College Board, criminal justice students focus on the inner workings of the judicial system, legal issues, the functions of law enforcement agencies, and types of criminal punishment.
Perks of Learning Online: Online degrees in this field can offer a variety of high-quality simulations that can prepare students for the types of high-pressure situations that may arise in these fields, notes Ingrid Crowther, an independent educational consultant.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Criminal Justice Program.
- Police, fire, or ambulance dispatcher