For most students, the question of grad school comes down to two big issues: feasibility and money. Not surprisingly, the rapid rise in popularity of online graduate programs can be directly attributed to their ability to provide a bit of relief on both fronts.
Obviously, different schools and programs provide different levels of benefit - so we figured we should break them down below.
It's always advantageous to hold a terminal degree (i.e. the most advanced degree available) in your field. Master's degrees confer a level of legitimacy on both your education and your experience; they show that you have spent more time critically thinking about a focused area of study. According to the last comprehensive survey of education attainment put out by the Census Bureau, Americans with master's degrees earned 260% more than those with only a high school degree, right out of school.
The internet allows students to earn master's degrees on their own schedules, often for a fraction of the cost. Nevertheless, despite the reduced cost of online degrees, it's still important to figure out whether you need a graduate degree at all. Many top-level executives across the world (Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, to name just two) rose through the ranks based on their own savvy, without graduate diplomas. You may also want to consider a certificate for a fraction of the price.
Degrees such as MBAs often boost one's earning power to the point where the return on investment is greater than the investment itself. You may want to do further research about dollars and cents when it comes to master's degrees in the liberal arts fields.
Students are attracted to online doctorate degrees because they have heightened levels of autonomy in their field of inquiry, and because they can work at their own pace over a period of several years. In all honesty: PHD candidates in the humanities don't spend a ton of time in the classroom after the first year or two; online programs give them great tools to check in with mentors and advisors from afar.
Another popular type of degree is the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA). These programs are designed for people who want to leverage professional experience into either a greater leadership role, or a teaching post in academia, or both. DBAs are the terminal degree in the business field.
Life gets more complicated a few years after college. People start families; work becomes more important. When it comes time to assess the risk vs. reward getting a graduate degree, timing becomes a huge factor. Elearning is widely lauded for its ability to help students learn at their own pace, but that includes providing resources to allow students to earn degrees more quickly.
This is a big advantage of full-time online graduate degree programs - they allow students to immerse themselves in study, and to emerge further credentialed in a shorter amount of time. Students are limited only by the amount of time it takes them to absorb information.
These programs offer flexibility for students who don't have the time to dive fully into their graduate studies. Part-time grad students often have to balance work and family responsibilities, and are simply not in a position to attend school 30 hours per week, even from home.
In part-time programs, students can learn from home or on their mobile devices. If they are gainfully employed, they can learn in the morning before heading off to work, or in the evening after they return. They can take as long as they need to finish their degree - figuring out what works best for them and their families every step of the way.
Clearly there are numerous options for those looking to earn a graduate degree online. We recommend that you discuss all options with those close to you, step up research, and then start supercharging your career today!