Evaluating an Online Degree Program
The Big 5 Questions to Ask About Online Degree Programs
- How is the course delivered?
There are many ways that an instructor can lecture: online using text, with accompanying slides, with or without student interaction, video, teleconferencing, etc. Course content is more easily understood if it’s presented in a dynamic engaging manner that involves an interaction between the students, the instructor, and the material. When you choose a program you should make sure that your online school utilizes many different methods to convey information.
Some standard options for online student interaction include chat rooms, instant messaging, teleconferencing, and video conferencing. Finding a program that facilitates, and even requires, student interaction is an important aspect of choosing an online program. How the online community functions should be very important to both the instructor and the institution.
How do I interact with the instructor and other students?
- How will I be evaluated?
Will you actually be required to work in order to earn your degree. If students aren’t evaluated appropriately and degrees are handed out with little or no verification that the students have actually learned anything, the program is not likely worthwhile and even less likely to be accepted by employers. A school that offers shortcuts may actually be a diploma mill, and should be avoided.
- What kind of library and research materials are available?
Ensure that the school you are interested in has a good system for providing reference materials and texts—they should be accessible from anywhere. The school’s online references should be up-to-date and available at any time.
- Is the school Regionally or Nationally accredited?
Ask about the school's credentials and the degrees the instructors hold. Many unaccredited online schools will eagerly grant you a degree, however these degrees from unaccredited schools are worthless. A diploma mill or unaccredited school should be avoided.
Getting the answers to these 5 questions is a great place to start.
Or, learn more about the "Online Option" and how online courses can work for you.