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Basic Guidelines to Choosing an Online School

With the gaining popularity of the Internet over the past 25 years, thousands of online schools have cropped up across the US and Canada - some good and some not so much. And, while there are a lot of excellent online colleges and universities that are fully accredited and qualified to provide quality undergraduate and degree programs, there are also quite a few diploma mills that may issue unimpressive credentials not worth a second glance. The choices can be overwhelming, so let's start with some basic guidelines to choosing the online school.

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First and foremost, whether you are researching online colleges and universities, or traditional, campus-based colleges, you should be sure to verify that your school is accredited by an agency recognized by either the United States Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or both. Schools that are accredited by these agencies must pass the same rigorous criteria as campus-based schools, and their educational worth is assured if they carry these credentials.

There are also regional accrediting agencies that may add value to your diploma or degree from an online school. Even though online studies may theoretically be accessed from any state, the school you choose will necessarily have a physical base that is housed in a particular state, and there are several agencies that are authorized to accredit online colleges and universities by region. These regional accrediting agencies might include the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Northwestern Association of Schools and Colleges, Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement.

Next, take a long and careful look at the specific online degree programs that are being offered. As an example, you may qualify to enroll in an online master degree program only if you have completed your undergraduate degrees (Associate degrees and Bachelor degrees). Inquire as to the number of credit hours you may be required to commit in order to complete your chosen level of degree.

Then, find out how and when your online classes will be accessible. For instance, if the class if taught through teleclasses, you will most likely be required to be at your computer at a certain hour several times a week to participate in a real-time, live class. Or, will you be able to access class assignments anytime, 24 hours a day at your convenience? Are there strict time restrictions on completing assignments; or does the online course provide for a flexible learning path? These are all important considerations when selecting the right online school.

Lastly, be sure to find out if there will be any on-site visit requirements anytime during the term of your online education, and where and when these visits are expected to take place. While most online courses can be completed without ever leaving the comfort of your own home, there are some that require the students' physical attendance for exams or practical demonstrations where you must be present to prove acquired skills (such as some of the online medical courses). Those who are unable to travel or conform to a rigid timetable will be wise to take note of these types of requirements when choosing an online course of study.

With these guidelines in mind, you might have no trouble locating excellent online schools that may completely meet or exceed your educational goals. Remember, the admissions departments of any reputable school will be happy to discuss their accreditation, credentials, tuition, financial assistance, diploma and degree programs, and any other topic that may help you decide which online school, college or university will be the best choice for you. You may start now by contacting a few promising schools on our website today and requesting information.

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    5 Program(s) Found
    • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
    • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
    • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
    • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
    • Online Courses
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    Nursing@Simmons, the innovative, online nursing degree program from Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences prepares Registered Nurses for the next stage of their careers.

    You need to have a Bachelor’s degree and RN license to be qualified for this school.

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    • Communications@Simmons prepares students to become leaders who achieve their organizational, professional, and personal goals through a strategic integration of communications theory and practice.
    • The rigorous, practice-based curriculum ensures that students develop the key skills and competencies necessary to successfully navigate the shifting landscape of the digital world.
    • Simmons’ faculties are scholars and practitioners who provide individualized attention to students, guiding their professional and personal development through hands-on engagement.
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    • Ranked 33rd among the Best Grad Schools for Social Work in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
    • Founded in 1904 as the nation’s first institute of higher learning to offer training for clinical social workers.
    • Provides a rigorous education, including a nationally accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) Program and PhD in Social Work.  
    • Offers inventive programs with hands-on experience.  
    • Incorporates social justice values and multicultural perspectives into curriculum. 
    • Online Courses
    1 Program(s) Found
    • Ranked #12 in the 2015 Best Graduate Schools in Social Work by U.S. News & World Report.
    • Offers more specialization opportunities than any other social work program, with 10 concentrations and sub-concentrations and 8 dual-degree programs.
    • The first elite researching university to offer a Master of Social Work degree online.
    • Has 4,000 field internship opportunities that give students real-world experience.
    • Online Courses
    • Accelerated Programs
    • Financial Aid
    • Transferable Credits
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    • Ranked among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
    • Ranked 8th among the Best Online Graduate Education Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
    • A private, co-ed college founded in 1821 and located in downtown Washington, D.C.
    • Its student-faculty ratio is 13:1, and 55.1% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
    • Has distinguished alumni including Senator Harry Reid, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and actress Courtney Cox.
    • Accredited
    • Online Courses
    • Accelerated Programs
    • Financial Aid
    • Transferable Credits
    1 Program(s) Found
    • Master of Science in Communications offered online through Syracuse University’s world-renowned Newhouse School of Public Communications.
    • Ranked among the Best Global Universities in 2016 by U.S. News & World Report.
    • Specializations include Advertising, Public Relations, and Journalism Innovation.
    • Coursework provides students with communication strategies for today’s changing media landscape.
    • Online Courses
    3 Program(s) Found
    • Founded in Southern California in 1998 by dog training expert Steven Appelbaum.
    • The largest independent dog training company in the United States.
    • Offers 11-stage programs that feature an in-home study component along with a hands-on training module.
    • A member of the MyCAA Financial Assistance program, which offers eligible military spouses up to $4,000 of tuition assistance that can be used towards any of their courses.
    • Helps graduates find employment and coaches those who are looking to start their own business.
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    • Online Courses
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    • Has students attend one four-week class at a time and take their final exam before moving on to their next class.
    • Offers 24/7 online tech support, with a typical response time of 4 hours or less.
    • Has online help centers that offer assistance with writing, statistics, medical assisting, and more.
    • Provides job placement assistance to all its students and alumni.
    • Researches trends for growing fields to tailor a more effective curriculum.
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    Good for Working Adults
    • Accredited
    • Online Courses
    • Flexible Scheduling
    • Financial Aid
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    • Located in Hollywood, CA, offering degrees in film, music production, business, animation and more.
    • Scholarship, financial aid and military benefits are available for students who qualify.
    • Programs taught by award-winning industry professionals in real-world working environments.
    • Features industry-standard facilities including recording studios, soundstages, green screen, movie theatres and more.
    • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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