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Finding the school that's degree that's right for you!

For traditional schools, the U.S. Department of Education has a helpful online tool:

Use the College Navigatorto find a school that meets your needs.

For a more convenient, yet powerfully effective alternative, you can get your degree online. Visit DegreeGuideOnline.com to find an online college that meets your needs.

In order to choose the best online education which will meet your needs, interests, financial situation, and career goals, it's helpful to get a little information about the schools themselves. These are the basic categories that schools fall into:

  • Public / Private. Public schools are run by the state and/or local governments whereas private schools are generally run by for-profit businesses (career or trade schools, for example) or non-profit businesses (foundations, religious denominations). Generally, public schools are more economical.
  • Four-year colleges. At a four-year college you usually find the whole gamut of bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees. Additionally, some four-year colleges include law or medical school. Most four-year colleges are beginning to offer an online component to their programs.
  • Two-year community (junior) colleges. Two-year colleges generally offer associate degrees or certificate programs in a specific area. Often students who want to ease their way into the education system start with an associates and then transfer those credits into a four-year college to complete a bachelor's. It's often easier to get into a two-year college as the admission policies tend to be less rigid.
  • Vocational, trade, technical, or career schools. These schools prepare the student for a specific trade such as cosmetology or technician or engine repair or refrigeration repair (actually, the list is nearly endless). While most of these schools offer an online component, some do require you to participate in workshops or internships to give you hands-on practice.

When considering your choice- regardless of type of school- it's of utmost importance that you make sure the school is accredited. Check with the Better Business Bureau before applying to make sure that your degree will count!

Programs and Degrees by Type of School and Time to Graduate
Program or degree: School where offered: Typical time to graduate:
Technical, trade or vocational courses Career, technical, vocational, or trade schools; community and junior colleges 1-2 years of study
Associate Degree Community and junior colleges 2 years of study
Bachelor's Degree Four-year colleges and universities 4 years of study
Master's Degree Four-year colleges and universities Bachelor's degree + 1-2 years study
Doctorate Degree Four-year colleges and universities Bachelor's degree + Master's degree + 2-3 years of additional study

Besides type of degree and field of study, there are other variables to take into consideration when choosing your degree program. Some of them include:

  • Degree Majors Offered. If you know what you want to study, make sure that the college you choose first has the program and second has a good reputation for that particular program. If you aren't sure what your major will be, look through the degree programs offered to make sure that they have a wide selection to choose from.
  • Expense. It's a good idea to find out all of your expenses- not just tuition, but books, travel, student fees, lab equipment, etc. Compare your findings to the online price- you may be pleasantly surprised. Additionally, you may want to check to see if your chosen institution participates in the federal student aid program.
  • Locality. For an online degree, location is easy: at any available pc with an internet connection. If you choose a traditional college, you have to decide whether or not to stay in the same town or not. You may also want to factor in travel costs and rent or dorm fees in your expense budget for traditional college.
  • On/Off campus or ONLINE. For a traditional degree program, you'll need to decide if you want to live in an apartment off campus (or at home) or move into a dorm or residence hall. You'll need to factor in distance and time and other personal requirements. For online degree programs, you study where your computer is- no need to worry about additional costs or hassles.
  • Flexibility. If you have other obligations such as work or child care, you need to know that the university will be flexible. Online degree programs generally are the most flexible in a degree program because you log in to the course work on your own time. For traditional degree programs you may want to find out if they have night or summer courses or if they allow you to have part-time status.
  • Requirements for Admission. It's very important to know what the admission requirements are before enrolling into the college. Sometimes there are entrance exams, grade point requirements from high school, or language requirements. If you are an older student, the criteria can change.
  • Accreditation. Make sure that you check U.S. Department of Education's Institution Accreditation Search Page to find out the accreditation status of your intended college. Accredited schools have been found to meet the standards employers expect in your chosen field; they can be sure that your training and education is current and thorough. If you attend a school that is not accredited, your degree will not be worth the paper it is printed on.
  • Placement services. Ask if your school has a placement service to help its graduates find good jobs after they graduate.