No longer is the standard brick and mortar classroom the quintessential way to gaining higher education. The past few years have seen an exponential rise in the popularity and credibility of online learning programs.  This is illustrated by a research conducted in 2013 by the Babson Survey Research Group, which revealed that approximately 7.1 million of higher education students were taking at least one online course. What began as a phenomenon with a few courses being offered online has now morphed into a well-recognized, and practical method of gaining all manners of quality degrees, from diplomas to PhD’s.

The success of online learning can be attributable to a variety of different factors:

Time constraints

In today’s fast paced life, it is difficult for individuals with work or family obligations to take out the time to attend full-time courses on-campus.  This led to an increased demand for the convenience of online courses.


One of the primary reasons why online learning has become so successful is because of student demand. Students pursuing an online degree have the freedom to study when they are most alert and when it is convenient for them. They can take breaks and therefore may absorb more material. The ability to set your own pace is a huge advantage for many individuals.


Course material can be accessed anywhere, anytime. All you need is your computer and an internet connection. Instantly, you may access your lectures, readings, and notes pertaining to your course.

More options

Online learning is often customizable. You aren’t required to follow a rigid course track; you may choose those courses that will be beneficial to you and what you are trying to achieve. In addition, you have a plethora of degree options to pursue online as opposed to being restricted to only the programs one particular university offers.


The cost of gaining a degree online may be substantially less than traditional degrees. Many additional costs are factored into a traditional university tuition fees. These include:

  • Required resources – Salaries for the faculty; any equipment that may be of use to students such as labs, access to libraries, etc.
  • Institutional spending factors – These include all those costs incurred by the university to provide services for faculty members, students, and the upkeep of the premises and its property.
  • Operational costs – The money required to run the whole university.
  • Board fees
  • Miscellaneous fees

Many of these costs do not exist or are substantially reduced when it comes to online education. Furthermore, students do not have to pay additional costs for housing, transportation, or costly textbooks. Most of the material required is accessible online through various online libraries and data bases. In addition, some online programs may offer students the option to pay in installments, lessening the financial burden.  With the shocking amount of student loan debts that presently exist, it’s no wonder that many are interested in more cost effective ways of earning a degree.

Geographic Factors

For many, it isn’t feasible to travel to attend a class on-campus. Such limitations are immaterial when pursing an online degree.

Additional benefits of enrolling in online courses may include:

  • Effective time management and allocation– Since students aren’t required to attend classes with an instructor at a precise time, the responsibility falls on them to create an effective study schedule to cover all of the course material. Additionally, no time is wasted in commuting.
  • Refinement of technical skills – Many online programs require students to use a number of online programs and databases. The end result is that students become more comfortable and proficient in their use of these skills.
  • Less distraction – There’s no noise from a classroom full of students to divert you from your work.
  • Fosters discipline – With online courses, you don’t have a teacher standing over your head and giving you a schedule to follow. It is your responsibility to complete the curriculum effectively and pass the course. This requires a great deal of motivation and active enthusiasm. This approach to learning fosters individual discipline.
  • Communication – Many times, in traditional classrooms, every student doesn’t get their say because they are either shy or time does not permit it. Online students are, however, required to actively participate through discussions and group projects. They have the ability to take their time to craft their responses and this polishes their communication skills. Online courses also have high levels of enrollment and students come from a vast array of backgrounds. This leads to diverse opinions and the chance for students to expand their own ideas.

Due to these various benefits, studies have found that those students who took all or part of their instruction online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course on-campus.  Furthermore, many of the skills acquired through online learning are highly coveted by employers. Highly motivated individuals with effective communication skills, strong work ethics and the ability to adapt to changing situations are more likely to succeed in today’s dynamic work force.

Online learning is just as, if not more demanding, than traditional methods of learning. It is fast becoming a very practical alternative to enrolling in on-campus programs, which are often too rigid and don’t offer individuals the luxury of fulfilling prior obligations as well as pursuing a degree.

Top Affordable Schools

There are certain online schools that are comparably more affordable than other schools. The criteria used to rank these schools are based on a number of factors including: affordability and the availability of financial aid, student satisfaction, accreditation, etc.

Some of the top affordable schools for online education are:

Western Governors University

A completely online university founded in 1995, WGU offers over 52

Kaplan University

Kaplan offers a host of programs at all levels of higher education and is accessible to students from all over the world. It also offers students the option to take ‘hybrid’ courses that are a mixture of online and on-campuscourses.

University of Phoenix

Data from the S. Department of Education indicates that this university has the highest enrollment for any accredited higher learning institution in the United States. It offers a number of degrees in many different subject areas.

Eastern New Mexico University

According to data, ENMU offers some of the most affordable online programs. It also offers very generous discounts to out-of-state students.

Ashford University

This university offers students the chance to gain degrees in a large number of fields. It also offers very attractive tuition rates.

Best Degree Programs

Listed below is a list of the most popular programs offered and pursued online:

  1. Popular Bachelor’s Programs
  • Business Administration
  • Human Resources
  • Health Management
  • Accounting
  • Criminal Justice
  • Psychology
  • Nursing
  1. Popular Master’s Programs
  • Business Administration (MBA)
  • Finance
  • Project Management
  • Nursing
  • Criminal Justice

In addition to the programs listed above, degrees are also offered in other disciplines such as engineering, arts, humanities, education and teaching, etc.

Best Career Opportunities

Career opportunities will vary according to the degree you decide to pursue. It must be noted that an increasing number of employers are interested in online degree graduates since it shows them that these individuals possess a highly refined skill set. The level of motivation, discipline, and time management that goes into earning a degree online cannot be highlighted enough. Throw in the fact that most individuals gain these degrees while working full-time jobs or taking care of their families and you get an even better understanding of the level of commitment and dedication they possess.

Furthermore, due to increased competitiveness in the job market, further qualifications are often very important. Gaining a degree online may enable individuals to do just that.

For those who choose to purse a degree in business, many opportunities may lie in the following career paths

  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Accounting

For very popular degrees such as business administration, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that the mean annual wage in 2013 was $71,020.

After completing a degree in nursing and obtaining the necessary license, the following career opportunities may be explored

  • Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP)
  • Pediatric Nurse
  • Nurse Midwives

Registered nurses earned an annual median salary of $65,470 in 2012 and nurse practitioners earned an annual median salary of $95,070 in 2013 (BLS).

Career prospects in criminal justice.

  • Police officer
  • Detective or investigator
  • Forensics
  • Correctional officer

Police and detectives earned an annual median salary of $56,980 in 2012 (BLS).

Career prospects in psychology.

  • Social work
  • Career counselor
  • Psychologist
  • Professor of Psychology

According to BLS, psychologists earned an annual median salary of $69,280 in 2012.

The above information is general; many jobs require individuals to not only hold bachelor’s degrees, but also master’s degrees in order to avail better job prospects and positions.

Education portal has become a very prevalent and practical method by which to gain a degree. With  family and work obligations, many individuals cannot commit to full-time programs at traditional universities. Enrolling in an online degree provides them with the opportunity to study at their own pace and not miss out on furthering their educational qualifications. With the number of benefits that it offers, it is expected that the number of people seeking online degrees will only grow in the future.