An Online degree, program or course is an academic qualification that is earned primarily or entirely through the use of an internet-connected computer or smartphone rather than attending school in a traditional campus setting.
They are designed for students whose commitments and responsibilities would otherwise make it difficult for them to enrol in a full-time education program be it highschool or college.
Requirements for Online Studies
You need to have a basic knowledge of computer and Internet skills in order to be successful in an online course. Here are the most important ones you can’t do without;
- Knowledge of terminology, such as browser, IMHO, application, etc.
- Understanding of basic computer hardware and software; ability to perform computer operations, such as; Using keyboard and mouse
- Managing files and folders; save, name, copy, move, backup, rename, delete, check properties
Software installation, security and virus protection
- Using software applications, such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, email clients
Knowledge of copying and pasting, spell-checking, saving files in different formats
Sending and downloading attachments
- Internet skills (connecting, accessing, using browsers) and ability to perform online research using various search engines and library databases. Visit Distance Library Services for more information.
- Ability to use online communication tools, such as email (create, send, receive, reply, print, send/receive attachments), discussion boards (read, search, post, reply, follow threads), chats, and messengers.
Strong Reading, Listening and Writing skills
Strong reading, listening and writing skills are a necessity for your success on any online program. You need to be able to read your materials, listen to audios and write exams and tests.
Online students communicate through such text-based tools, as emails, discussion forums, chats and instant messaging.
You need to feel comfortable expressing yourself in writing. If you have hearing impairment, you can’t do any online program that involves recordings.
Self-motivated and Independent learner
While online courses can offer more flexibility in scheduling, they require more self-discipline and independence than on-campus courses. Some students can find this uncomfortable and not suitable for their learning style.
They may miss face-to-face interaction with an instructor and peers, which helps to keep them on track. In the online environment, you have to be able to start and to work on tasks on your own, without someone keeping you focused, and you have to be self-disciplined in order to follow the class schedule and meet deadlines.
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Online classes take as much time as regular on-campus classes. You need to set aside sufficient time for study. Plan to spend at least as much time working on the assignments and studying as you would with a traditional course.
Note that some students report spending even more time for online classes than for traditional ones. Time that you need to devote to a 3-credit course will be approximately 12 hours a week.
Time management; log-in frequently and develop study schedules
Even though you may not have to “be” in class on some specific day and time, you still have to follow the course schedule provided by your instructor.
Remember that online classes are not independent study courses; you are still required to “show up” and participate actively.
Since online courses are asynchronous, they will continue developing and changing even if you are not online.
You need to be online frequently enough and log in at least three to four times per week in order to keep up with the content flow, complete assignments, follow discussions and communicate with your classmates and instructor. Some courses may even require you to log in every day.
Never wait until the last minute to complete your assignments. You may have a technical problem or run out of time which will cause frustration. One of the major reasons for failing online classes is procrastination, since it is very easy to fall behind in the online environment.
Make sure to set aside specific time on a regular basis to participate in your course. Schedule specific times to log in and to study.
Online students must be active learners, self-starters who are not shy or afraid to ask questions when they do not understand. Remember that you, not the instructor, must be in control of your learning process.
Since your instructor cannot see you, you need to “speak up” right away if you have problems and be as explicit as possible; otherwise there is no way others will know that something is wrong.
Remember that your instructor is not the only source of information. Most of the time you will be able to post your question in the discussion forum and your classmates will help you as well.
If you have technical difficulty, problems understanding course content or difficulty meeting the deadline, seek help right away and contact your instructor to make arrangements
Technical Requirements for Online Learning
Before you start your program, the school will be sent an e-confirmation letter (to the email address they provide upon registration) with a “user ID” and a “password” as well as instructions to access courses.
Some courses which may have mandatory group work and mandatory chats where you will be required to be logged into your course at specific times for specified periods of time will be indicated in the course description. This depends on the program and your school of choice, all can’t be the same.
Minimum Technical and Software Requirements for Online Learning Courses;
Computer with Internet Connection
What you will need is constant and reliable internet connection and a computer. High speed broadband access (LAN, Cable or DSL) is highly recommended for the optimal learning experience. Some courses have more advanced system requirements.
A Macintosh or PC system with these minimum requirements;
- Compatible Operating System: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1
- Web Browser: Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer 10 or higher
- Compatible Operating System: OS X
- Web Browser: Firefox, Chrome, Safari
Individual courses have their specific software requirements. This may include video or audio playing software or a specific software application like the ones offered by Khan or Udacity; your school may offer theirs or work in partnership with the aforementioned platforms to offer their programs.
Web Browser, e-mail and even word processing software.
In some instances, it may be necessary for some users to upgrade their Flash or Java versions.
Depending on the learning management system being used to deliver your course, you may access and interact with most course elements, readings, multimedia, email and discussions through tablets and smartphones.
While tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices may allow for some completion of coursework, they are not guaranteed to work in all areas. Please ensure you have a PC or Mac based computer available to complete coursework.
We recommend that students do not attempt quizzes when using a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, due to compatibility issues.
You should be sure you meet specific course requirements before applying for any program. Make the school you want to enrol with offer the program to suit your lifestyle; some students prefer programs that are affordable, flexible and even offered on their own terms while others are comfortable with fixed online classes and expensive is not offensive.
Make sure your program has the necessary accreditation and the school is recognised by the relevant academic boards.
Top Online Universities in the World
This is one of the world’s premier centers for students interested in obtaining their degree online. Find out online programs offered by the university.
Through its online program, Walden University confers bachelor degrees, master degrees, and doctorate degrees, including the Bachelor of Science (BS), Master of Science (MS), Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Public Health (MPH), Education Specialist (Ed.S.), Doctor of Education (Ed.D), Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), and Ph.D.
American InterContinental University
American InterContinental University features both in class and online courses leading to associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees.
Saint Leo University
As a leading provider in online education, Saint Leo University offers working adults the opportunity to acquire new skills and knowledge to advance in the workplace without ever having to step foot into a traditional classroom. The university offers degree programs at the Associate, Bachelor’s, and Master’s levels.
Post University strives to offer affordable, convenient online courses that push each student to succeed.
Popular for students seeking programs in Accounting, Business Administration, Computer Information Science, and Criminal Justice, Everest University is a recognizable online university which offers most of these programs at the associate and bachelor level.
They also offer two online Master’s degrees in Criminal Justice and Business Administration that offers a challenging, yet rewarding curriculum.
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Top Online Universities in Africa
University of Africa
The University of Africa (UA) is a Private Open Distance-Learning Tertiary Institution with an expanding portfolio of study programmes and degrees being offered. Currently, these programmes include Bachelor’s Degrees in Business Administration; Commerce; Economics; Health Service Administration; Human Resource Management; Law; Logistics and Transport; Marketing; Public Administration; Tourism and many more.
A process is currently underway to make all courses available online as part of our e-learning initiative. more than 2000 students from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and we are looking forward to welcoming students from Nigeria and Kenya soon.
University of the Witwatersrand
Wits Plus is a virtual online learning school offered by the University of the Witwatersrand. The platform offers fully online learning opportunities with courses that can be accessed anytime, anywhere, and are fully adaptable to all device types.
Online courses are offered in partnership with DigitalCampus. Wits Plus only offers programmes for a Bachelor of Arts degree and Bachelor of Commerce degree on a part-time basis.
University of Rwanda
The University of Rwanda offers eLearning portal for six diploma programmes for secondary school teachers. The e-learning portal is administrated by the College of Education. The college of education is responsible for coordinating Open and Distance eLearning programmes of all UR-Colleges.
The college of education also focuses on putting learning materials used in ordinary classroom training online, so all students can access them anytime.
Ahmadu Bello University Distance Learning
The Ahmadu Bello University Distance Learning is offered by the Ahmadu Bello University. The university has Certificate/Diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in all fields.
There is a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) programme accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC) available on the online platform.
Lecture videos and study materials can be accessed offline. The e-learning portal allows students to submit assignments, interacts with lectures and tutors.
African Virtual University
The African Virtual University is a pan-African intergovernmental organisation with 19 member countries and is aimed at increasing access to quality higher education through the innovative use of information and communication technologies.
African Virtual University (AVU), a satellite-based distance education programme which began working with the World Bank in 1995. AVU has been transformed from being a project of the World Bank to an independent reputable inter-governmental organisation based in Nairobi, Kenya with over 34 learning centers in 17 African countries. The university offers programmes in Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and more.
Kenyetta Digital School of Learning
In 2014 Kenyatta University (KU), launched its new KU Digital School in a move that is set to address the increased demand for improved higher education e-Learning programmes in Kenya.
The Digital School offers diploma and undergraduate programmes as well as Masters degrees using blended teaching and learning that combines digital instructions with live tutorials in regional centres.
The Digital School has centres in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Kakamega, Kericho, Nyeri, Embu, Garissa and Marsabit.
UNICAF is an online platform offering higher education to underserved markets, in collaboration with reputable universities in the UK, US, Europe and Africa.
The university offers quality higher education degrees to students in Africa and the world. Current partners include the University of South Wales (UK), the Marymount California University (USA), the University of Nicosia (Europe) and Unicaf University (Africa).
Undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications are offered online or on campus. In Africa, the university has campuses and learning centres in Malawi, Nigeria, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Zambia and Ghana.
National Open University of Nigeria
National Open University offers its online programs through a platform known as nounilearn. Find the online programs offered by NOUN.
Top 10 Most Popular Online Degrees
These include the most popular Online Degrees sought by online students. Criteria for ranking includes curriculum and salary information for each degree program.
According to U.S. News and World Report, Business Administration is the most popular online degree. More students are enrolled in Business Administration programs around the nation than any other online degree program.
A major reason for the popularity of this program is due to the fact that the principles of business and management that are learned are relevant to almost every career field. Students can learn useful analytical, managerial, communication, and decision-making skills.
The high salaries is also an enticing factor. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over the course of their career the average college graduate holding a bachelor’s degree in business earns an impressive $2.6 million dollars, approximately $200,000 more than the average for all workers holding a bachelor’s degree.
- Online MBA; An MBA, or Master of Business Administration, is generally a two-year program, stretched out to three or four years if students choose to go part-time. An EMBA, or an Executive Master of Business Administration, is also a two-year program, but it’s aimed at business executives with five years’ managerial experience. There is also Accelerated MBA which refers to the fact that students are able to complete these programs faster than a traditional full-time MBA, which typically requires a two year commitment. You can look up the cheapest online mba in the world.
Criminal Justice programs combine different academic disciplines in their curriculum, such as law, sociology, psychology, and science. Online Criminal Justice programs prepare students for careers in fields such as crime scene investigators, legal analysts, forensic scientists and probation officers. Criminal Justice positions are available at the federal, state, and local levels.
Cyber-crime is especially on the rise, and Criminal Justice degree holders who have a background in computer science or information technology can qualify for employment with the coveted Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Department of Homeland Security.
Payscale puts the mid-career salary of those who earn a Criminal Justice bachelor’s degree at $58,400.00 per year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salaries of those who work in the criminal justice field range from $39,000 for jailers to almost $43,000 for private investigators, and approximately $70,000 for detectives and criminal investigators. Criminal Justice is a rewarding career that directly benefits society and helps society thrive.
Getting a degree in Psychology opens doors to work in many different fields. Psychologists can work in various capacities in the field of Human Services, Criminal Justice, Marketing, Business, and others, or they can work independently.
Psychology is a growing field that is increasingly needed in many different areas of business and human services.
Areas of study include neuroscience, human development, personality theory, learning, memory and cognition, psychotherapy, emotion, sensation and perception, interpersonal relationships, personal adjustment, and abnormal behavior.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently ranked the 20 fastest-growing occupations in America, and Industrial-Organizational Psychologists is #1, with a median pay of $83,580 a year and a growth rate of 53% between now and 2022. This growth rate is higher than every other occupation.
The mid-career salary for psychologists is $60,700.00, according to Payscale.
If you are interested in human behavior, what motivates people, their fears, hopes, and desires, and want to help in people’s lives, a degree in psychology will equip you for this kind of career.
According to Payscale, nurses are considered to be the #1 occupation that changes the world. An online degree in nursing involves taking hard and soft science classes, which include a range of topics such as chemistry, anatomy, psychology, biology, and sociology classes, all designed to prepare nurses for treating and caring for their patients.
Medical technology is advancing, and nurses manage patient data and administer treatments in an increasingly digital setting. Nursing informatics, data management and health care delivery systems are courses that prepare students to engage and implement new medical technology.
U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Jobs” ranking listed Nursing as one of the top five careers due to its low unemployment rates and strong earning potential.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Registered Nurses can earn a median salary of nearly $64,700 a year with only an Associate’s degree. However, Registered Nurses can increase their salary by getting a bachelor’s degree. The mid-career median salary for a Registered Nurse with a bachelor’s degree is $65,200.
According to U.S. News & World Report, obtaining a four-year nursing degree can also promote nurses to management positions. PayScale lists the mid-career median salary for a nurse manager at $75,000, and a director at $78,300.
Nurses who continue their education at the graduate level qualify for positions in nursing education and administration. For nurses interested in graduate school, online Master of Science in Nursing degree programs are offered to nurses who already have a bachelor’s degree, and also to nurses who don’t have a bachelor’s degree but hold the Registered Nurse credential.
PayScale ranks elementary education among the top 10 majors that change the world, and 75% of those with a bachelor’s in education believe that their job makes the world a better place.
An online bachelor’s degree in education involves learning how to engage and motivate students, assess student achievement and solve problems in the classroom.
According to the Bureau of Labor, elementary schools are expected to add almost 250,000 new teaching positions by the year 2020, in urban and rural school districts. And also according to the Bureau of Labor, teachers with expertise in special education and teaching English as a second language are in high demand given that there is a shortage of teachers with this training, so students pursing an education degree can increase their job potential by getting a certificate in those areas.
A Bachelor’s degree in Engineering gives one of the highest starting salaries right out of college with a starting salary of $98,000.00 per year. It’s easy to see the allure of getting an Engineering degree with such high earning capacity for a first job out of college.
Engineering consistently ranks as one of the very best degrees for return on investment, which is due to the demand for Engineers in broad fields such as science, math, mechanical engineering, technology, and computers.
An online Bachelor’s degree in Engineering involves subjects such as math and science, chemistry, management, computer science, and the like. There are many different kinds of engineering degrees, such as petroleum, chemical, mechanical, nuclear, electrical, aerospace, and computer engineering.
It is estimated that 3 million engineering jobs are currently available, with increasing demand each year. Often talented engineering students will be offered jobs before they’ve graduated.
Healthcare Administrators are responsible for overseeing businesses in the medical field, such as doctor’s offices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes.
Healthcare Administrators’ duties range from coordinating care, creating schedules, managing finances and working with doctors and medical staff. Healthcare Administrators do not provide medical care of any kind to patients.
The coursework varies due to the many roles that Healthcare Administrators perform, and include business, ethics, accounting, leadership, finance, and economics, as well as the legal requirements and duties in an industry that is strictly regulated with respect to privacy laws and the like.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Healthcare Administration field is projected to increase 22%, adding 70,000 new positions by the year 2020. According to Payscale, the average starting salary is $39,600 for grads with a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration, with a mid-career salary of $57,800.
For students interested in earning more than the average salary, getting a Master’s degree in Healthcare Management or Business can increase earnings.
According to Forbes, graduates with a bachelor’s in Computer Science earn the second highest paid salary (behind only Engineering Management) right out of college, averaging $59,100 per year.
Computer science is in high demand in an ever-increasing computerized world, and as a result computer science is consistently one of the highest earning college degrees. See our article the 15 Best IT Security Colleges Online.
Some benefits of getting a degree in computer science are high earning potential, low unemployment, and many different career opportunities. Businesses are competing for Computer Science degree holders for positions such as designers, developers, programmers and product managers.
Given the rapidly changing technological advances in computers, computer science programs must stay current with these advances to guarantee that students are learning the necessary, modern, state-of-the-art science, which include coding languages, software code, and other skills. Students will learn to create software and hardware, and create and manage the networks that connect them.
Accountants largely handle the accounting of money for individuals or companies, and review and analyze financial documents, as well as offer expertise in consulting services to corporations, nonprofits and governments.
Companies are always in need of accountants who can analyze financial data and work through financial challenges, and an online Bachelor’s degree in Accounting teaches students these highly valuable skills. The skills learned in an online degree in Accounting include fundamentals in business, analysis, and finance, each of which prepare students for professional Accounting careers in the public and private sectors.
Students must pass the necessary exams to become professionally certified as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant, or Certified Internal Auditor. In order to take the CPA exam, students need to complete 150 semester hours, and most bachelor’s degree programs do not offer that many hours.
The American Institute of CPAs suggests that students pursue additional hours in graduate school, earning either a Master’s in Accounting or a Master’s in Business Administration in Accounting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, getting the professional certification (CPA license) significantly increases career prospects.
A career in Human Services is a rewarding career, and offers a wide variety of career types, such as Community Advocacy and Social Policy, Social Work, Human Services Administration, Health Education and Community Services, and Criminal Justice.
According to Payscale, Social Work is ranked #6 in the category of majors that changes the world, with 77% of graduates feeling that their career makes the world a better place.
Curriculum involves learning about policy, theory, ethics, research, and management. Students often specialize in disciplines like gerontology, social and community services, Global Health Services, public health, criminal justice, intervention, and family studies.
Professionals who earn an online degree in Human Services can work with the public in many occupations and industries, such as an administrator at a nursing home, or with child protective services.
According to PayScale, the median salaries range from about $33,000 for case managers, $53,000 for wellness directors, $59,000 for medical and health services managers, and $82,000 for nursing home administrators.