Shop for an Online Master’s Degree
This blog (Part 3) covers the last of these considerations, and provides you with some very practical, hands on advice about actions you can take in order to move quickly and effectively along your path to shop for an online master’s degree that is right for you.
You’ve already decided that getting an online master’s degree will work best for you, because 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. You have also begun the process of determining which master’s degree is best for you, based on your personal and career goals.
Build a Folder to Hold Your Personal / Academic Admissions Details
Next, gather your personal information and academic records. Build a folder that holds the following details, which are very commonly required application elements for graduate programs:
- Your undergraduate GPA (total and in the last 60 semester hours of your major courses) and GPA of any graduate courses you’ve also taken. An ‘unofficial transcript’ or personal copy of your grades may be used to get the process started with many institutions; they will, of course, wait to provide official acceptance until they receive the official transcripts from all previous universities attended
- Names and contact information of individuals you will use for personal and professional references. It’s a good idea to reach out to these individuals to let them know you are planning on using their name for this purpose.
- University contact information and costs for requesting transcripts from all of the universities you’ve attended in the past
- If you are planning on applying to programs that require submission of GMAT or GRE scores with the application, get signed up as soon as possible to take these exams if you haven’t taken them within the past five years. And – if possible – you should plan to prepare for these exams carefully, as research indicates that individuals who have been out of college for several years generally under-perform on these types of tests (Forbes provides an interesting perspective on the GMAT here). Or, look for programs that do NOT require these exams as part of the application process. There are many online graduate programs that have replaced this requirement with a personal interview, more careful evaluation of courses and grades received, or have put waivers in place based on work experience or other relevant criteria. The Online Degree Database collects this level of detail for online graduate degrees to make it easier for you to find (in the Basic Plus Package).
- Begin writing an essay or personal statement of purpose
- Update your resume
You also need to verify that you meet prerequisite requirements of the online master’s degree that interests you. If you know that you haven’t taken some of the courses that are common prerequisites for an MBA, for example, you can look for online master’s programs that offer you a convenient way to fulfill these requirements easily and inexpensively. There are many universities that provide pathways to help you move quickly through these prerequisites ensuring that you can get to your graduate studies and get moving with your life plans.
Make Decisions About What You Want to Pay and More…
Finally, and this is very important, write down the online degree program qualities and characteristics that you can use to guide your selection process moving forward:
- How much can you afford to pay for the degree?
- What specializations or concentrations are you interested in?
- Is professional accreditation important? If so, which accreditation are you seeking for your program of choice?
- Are you willing to take a standardized test like the GMAT or GRE to meet admissions requirements?
- Would you prefer a program that is 100% online, or do you have flexibility / preference to visit campus several times throughout the program?
- Here is a more complete list of items to consider as you document your preferences for program qualities and characteristics.
The Online Degree Database can help!
When you reach this point in your decision-making process, use the Online Degree Database’s Free Report to generate a list of programs and their characteristics in the degree category you are interested in (MBA, Master of Accounting, MSW, MPH, etc.), so that you can see all of the possible online master’s programs available that meet your specific tuition, concentrations / specializations, location, and professional accreditation criteria.
It’s easy to use and you can create as many free reports as you like, using the interactive tool on the website. Once you make a final decision on the criteria that are most important to you, you can buy the Basic or Basic Plus package to get all the information you need (university names, rankings, total tuition, total credits, admissions and prerequisite requirements and more) to begin shop for an online master’s degree program that best meet your personal criteria, saving you weeks of searching for these programs on your own.