Finding graduate courses online can be daunting. Googling yields a confusing plethora of choices. How do you know which ones are right for you?
Before you search, it’s useful to ask a couple of questions.
First is, how good is the school?
One way to know is by its accreditation, a kind of quality assurance for education.
Online graduate courses are offered by public universities, private universities, and for-profit schools like University of Phoenix and Kaplan.
Public (state) universities such as UNCG and reputable private universities (Duke, Elon, etc.) must meet rigorous academic standards set by a recognized accrediting agency such as SACS, the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognizes seven reputable regional accrediting agencies.
Regional accrediting agencies are generally considered more reliable than national accrediting agencies. For-profit schools may or may not meet any kind of acceptable accrediting standard.
The second question is, how much does the program/course cost? Student debt is a big issue these days. Can you get the education you need without taking on more debt than you can afford?
Generally, online courses at public universities in your state, where you qualify for in-state tuition, are going to cost a lot less.
For example, online in-state graduate tuition at UNCG is about $195 per credit hour, which translates to $600 per 3-credit course.
Tuition for Duke’s online environmental management master’s (DEL-MEM) 2-year program is $14,900 per semester for a 30-credit program, or about $1986 per credit hour.
Tuition at Kaplan University’s online MBA program is $441 per quarter (not semester) credit hour, or $1323 per 3-credit course. Tuition at Jones International University ranges from $520 to $805 per credit hour.
In addition, finding tuition information may be difficult.
Public universities generally post tuition and fees on one web page. (Google the university’s name + tuition.) For-profit and private schools may have a range of prices for different programs and list them by program.
Be cautious about programs that offer you comprehensive “financial aid” information or counseling before or in place of clearly stating what the program costs are.
Finding Online Courses at Public Universities
Generally, with high academic quality and relatively low tuition, state universities offer you the most educational bang for your buck.
Fortunately, public university systems usually list their online programs, including graduate.
UNC Online will take you to online programs available from all 16 University of North Carolina campuses.
Google the name of the state university you’re interested in (North Carolina State University, for example) + “online” or “distance learning” and look for the program you want.
(Image and credit: Louis Round Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill; Ildar Sagdejev. Source URL.)