Thanks to evolving technology, online degree programs are taking off. Today, parents as well as those who are already working, are able to complete the work required for the degree at times convenient to them, but does this convenience come with a cost? Are online degrees as respected as traditional college degrees? (For related reading, see Online Or Campus Study: What's The Better Option?)
Although some hiring managers still prefer a traditional degree over an online degree, those rules are rapidly changing. If you attend a college or university that has a large traditional student body, it's impossible for hiring managers to know if you have satisfied the requirements for the degree by completing online or traditional work.



SEE: Student Loans



Because of the increasing popularity of online studying, the majority of colleges and universities either offer online programs or intend to offer virtual study options in the near future. If you're planning to pursue an online degree, what degree programs will be in demand in coming years? Here are a few options. (To learn more about degrees in high demand, read The 3 Best Degrees In 2012.)

Registered Nurse
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses will remain in high demand and as the baby boomer generation continues to age, the demand will be even greater. Online nursing degree programs are among the most popular programs, and many colleges and universities offer these in various specialties within the nursing field.

Accountants
Through 2018, the amount of accountants needed should increase by 22%, according to the BLS. As the economy recovers and financial regulation continues to be a priority among lawmakers, this should spur growth in the accounting job market. Because of this increasing demand, online offerings have increased as well. Not only can students earn an accounting degree, but other online programs assist with preparing for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam.

Education
The teaching profession is expected to grow by 13% through 2018. Teaching has always been a popular degree program for colleges and universities, not just for recent high school graduates but also mid-career people looking to enter the teaching field. In addition, the popularity of advanced degree programs as well as continuing education requirements have made online programs popular in the education field. (For more information, see Best States For Teachers.)

Tips
Although any accredited program has to meet high standards, consider enrolling in an online degree program at a well-respected college or university. Just like a traditional degree, hiring managers may respond more favorably to a degree from a school that has a long history of quality education, and you may qualify for lower tuition costs if you live in the state where the school is located.

Second, because online degrees cost nearly the same as a traditional degree, choose the path that fits your lifestyle and personality. Along with a high degree of comfort with modern technology, online degrees require large amounts of uninterrupted time, self-discipline and motivation. For some people, traditional classroom settings may fit their personality and technology skillset better.

The Bottom Line
Online degrees are becoming increasingly popular as evolving technology makes the online classroom just as, or even more, effective as traditional settings. As with any degree, choose a program in a field that you enjoy but also have a future demand. (For more information, read Online MBA Programs: Study From Home And Succeed!)

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