Pursuing Your Graduate Degree Online

Going back to school to get a master’s degree is a great idea. But many people struggle with the time commitment necessary to attend classes, review notes, study for tests all while trying to hold down a job, take care of the family or fulfill other obligations.

Thanks to online classes, many of these worries can be eliminated or greatly reduced.  More and more students are choosing to pursue their master’s degree through an online college.  The ability to take classes day or night without the need to travel to a classroom helps a lot of people fit courses around their busy schedules.

Most online schools will request that you take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) before being considered for admission.  There are some online colleges that have open enrollments, making it easier for students with varied backgrounds and degrees to apply.

Picking the Right Program

You likely spent much time researching different options for your bachelor’s degree.  The same kind of detailed inspection will be needed when comparing online colleges.  You should first identify the reasons for earning the graduate degree.  You should consider not just the job opportunities available to you after you finish the degree but also the potential increase in salary.

Your best course of action will be to do a self assessment and determine which of your strengths will best fit with a master’s degree.  A business master’s degree will provide you with the opportunity to pursue management jobs in finance, accounting, marketing and possibly human resources.  Another way to choose a major is to go back over some of the courses you completed for your bachelor’s degree.  Consider the topics that were interesting to you and the courses for which you received your highest grades.

People who are currently serving in the armed forces can use a master’s degree to improve their chances of finding a better job after their military service ends.  And higher ranks in the service are increasingly considering candidates with a graduate degree for promotions. 

Most Popular Master’s Degrees from Online Schools

  • Education
  • General Psychology
  • Healthcare Administrator
  • Early Childhood Teacher
  • Instruction and Curriculum

Getting the Most from Your Online Program

For people that have not participated in online courses, the computer based graduate program can seem a little overwhelming.  The majority of graduate programs were planned in consideration of the student’s outside needs.  The length of an average semester is shorter than a campus school.  Classes move at a fast pace to cover the information quickly and give students the necessary time to fulfill other obligations.

Some schools even structure their semesters for five to eight week duration.  This provides students with an opportunity to complete a course in a short amount of time in order to move on to the next class.  Most schools will allow a few days in between semesters to give students a chance to rest. 

Summer classes can help move the process along even faster.  It also allows you to develop a routine of going to class, studying and handling your other affairs without too much down time.  By systematically staying in school and attending classes part time year round you will complete your degree much sooner.

Ask the guidance counselors if your particular degree requires any face time.  This means you may have to finish a class or a test in person at an approved location.  The type of degree often plays a large role in the necessity of attending any portion of the class in person.

Finding the Funds for a Master’s Degree

Before you complete the application process for the graduate degree you need to make sure you can afford it.  An assorted number of scholarships are available to traditional campus type schools and these scholarships will usually carry over to an online degree.  There is also the option of applying for local, State and Federal loans.

There are more sources available for people who wish to pursue an online master’s degree.  People who are looking at degrees in technology, natural science, math or social science may be able to find grants from government agencies or private foundations.  Students who placed high in their bachelor’s degree graduating class may wish to submit applications to multiple graduate programs in hopes that the schools will compete for the student by offering attractive financial assistance.

Assistantships can be available for people that are trying to complete their graduate program on line.  The only requirement is that the student will be required to spend some time in classrooms on the school’s campus.  For many students this is not an option and therefore they do not apply for the assistantship.


  1. There are schools that provide students the opportunity to take a competency exam rather than the GRE.  The competency exam will decide the student’s current level of knowledge and understanding about the particular subject to see if they are a good candidate for a master’s degree.
  2. Choose an online college that has accreditation from a national or regional organization that is also formally recognized by the appropriate federal offices.
  3. It may be necessary to secure more space to give you ample room to perform your research as well as a storage area for your items.