5 Qualities to Look for in Your Online College Education

Education opens doors. Successfully completing an educational program grants students the knowledge to excel in their chosen career, the tools (the college transcript) to tackle a broad and ambitious job search, and the skills to quickly and efficiently transform into an indestructible professional force. The success or failure to reach the end goal hinges in small part on a potential students ability to locate the right program. Before you begin the long and arduous journey of combing through potential colleges, here are 10 aspects of online undergraduate and masters programs to consider.

Standardized Test Free

Many colleges and universities utilize test scores to determine the ability of students to succeed in a formal educational environment. Undergraduate programs rely on the SAT and ACT. Graduate programs rely mainly on the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) or the GMAT (General Management Admissions Test).

If you freeze up at the idea of relying on your test skills to obtain admission into a program, don’t panic yet. Not all schools require that students have standardized test scores as an admission requirement.

Why? According to Ohio University’s Health Administration program, their “program is tailored for experienced mid-career professionals for whom [they] feel a standardized test is not an appropriate measure of ability.” The take away? Strong candidates can choose to enter a program that relies on alternate admission requirements.


Higher education is not free, but a solid education from a respected institution does not need to lead to ulcer-inducing student loan debt. Pepperdine University’s MBA program costs a grand total of $81,328. On the more manageable end of the spectrum, Ohio University’s MBA degree costs $35,805. The difference in price is in part due to the spectacular reputation Pepperdine’s business school has obtained. While some jobs reimburse or pay for education costs, the majority of people must keep in mind that the higher the student loan, the more time it will take to payoff.


Some colleges offer scholarships that are either merit or need-based. Most schools will list scholarship opportunities on their financial aid or scholarship pages. Individuals should pay close attention to scholarship requirements, and ensure that they submit any material for the scholarship before the due date has passed.

100% Online

Not all programs are 100% online. Some schools like Pepperdine University require that all enrolled students in the MBA program travel to once a year for a workshop. Wake Forest University’s Master of Counseling requires two to three campus based residencies. University of Cincinnati’s Medical Lab Science program requires that students complete clinical rotations at a predetermined lab.

These off-line requirements are both good and bad. The good - students get face-to-face time with professors, as well as valuable hands-on experience. The bad - students need to spend time and money that they might not have traveling. Before deciding to go 100% online, consider how much hands-on experience you might receive implementing the tactics taught in the online program. If you’re day job will not be a forum to test out these new skills, you might want to check out programs that have on-site workshops either on campus or in a predetermined area near your home.

Transfer Credits

Moving from one educational program to another while pursuing a degree is often a necessary evil. The biggest hurdle that most students face is the inability to transfer any or all of their current credits. While some programs like Ohio University’s Master of Science in Nursing do transfer credits, others like University of Florida’s MS in Pharmacy degree program will not.

Students should be aware that some programs that do allow transfer credits will not accept credits from all universities. For example, the University of Cincinnati’s Master of Criminal Justice program requires that credits previously earned be from a college that holds the same regional accreditation.

A general policy that allows transfer credits from your particular program will not ensure that all or even a large chunk of the classes successfully taken will still count toward the new program. Most schools have a transfer credit maximum, as well as an “equivalent credit” policy. If the committee who reviews potential transfers does not see enough similarities between the classes taken at the previous university and their own university, the credits will not be granted.

Today professionals are lucky enough to have access to a variety of different online programs from prestigious universities. When choosing a university and degree program, students might want to compare and contrast various admission and degree requirements. What issues have you experienced while searching for the right school?


Photo Credit: Flickr

Samantha Stauf

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