Take Time to Shop!
In Parts 1, 2 and 3 of this blog, I review some of the basic considerations to keep in mind when you first start thinking about getting your master’s degree online, along with providing some very practical, hands-on advice about actions you can take in order to move quickly and effectively along your path to finding the right online master’s degree program for you.
In this next blog, Part 4, I offer advice and suggestions for shopping universities to be sure that you find the right program, at the right school, based on what’s most important to you.
Create a Short-List of Programs
Shopping for an online graduate program could take significant effort, given the vast number of available online master’s degree programs and the avalanche of distracting marketing messages intended to get your attention.
Below are some ideas to guide you in developing a great short-list of universities to consider.
Remember, by seeking an online master’s degree, you don’t have to settle for something less than what you want! With an online degree, you can choose from all of the programs available within the U.S. and maximize the return for your time and tuition investment without compromising on cost and quality or work / school / life scheduling flexibility.
What’s Most Important to You?
In a recent survey, online graduate students say the most important criteria they considered when they were selecting an online degree program include (listed here in order of importance):
- Tuition and fees
- Overall reputation of the program
- Program is recognized in the field as high quality
- Number of hours of study required each week
- No set class meeting times
There is no ‘objective’ way for you to assess the reputation or quality of a university, according to the same survey with online graduate students, but you can —
- Verify that the university is accredited and ask an employer, colleagues, family members, or friends their opinion of the university.
- Students say that they trust these sources of information more than they trust rankings from U.S. News & World Report or marketing websites
Start building your online program short-list with universities that you know well. In fact, check your alma mater first (if you had a good student experience there) as some universities offer discounts to returning students!
- Be sure your short list of universities includes several universities that were recommended by your employer, colleagues, or friends/family
Ensure Your Success!
Expand and complete your short-list of programs to shop by including additional universities with online programs that meet the list of degree program qualities and characteristics you developed (from above) using web searches. Or, even better, you can use the free Interactive Tool from Online Degree Database to find universities with online programs that meet your needs in only minutes.
It’s unfortunate, but many online graduate students say that they only shopped a few universities after deciding on which degree type was best for them. Given the huge costs (time and money) associated with earning a master’s degree, investing more effort into this part of the process makes good sense!
Greater effort at this stage of the game will ensure optimal outcomes for you.