Examining traditional college credits in the online college world is important. Not all online educations offer transferable or even accredited college credits upon graduation. While it’s most likely true that you’ll learn something wherever you attend, you are better off looking to make sure that the online school you’re planning on attending will extend to you the appropriate number of credit hours needed to get a traditional diploma.

Undergraduate Degrees

  • Associate degrees are usually about 60 credit hours and can count towards a four year degree
  • Bachelor’s degrees most often take 4 years to complete and are just about double the amount of credit hours. While working towards this you can get your associate’s degree half way through it. Make sure however the classes you’re taking are working towards a degree or you may discover that you have many credit hours that don’t apply.

Graduate Degrees

  • Masters programs vary in the amount of hours in addition to a bachelor’s degree they require to get a master’s degree, but can be anywhere from 32-44 credit hours beyond your 4 year degree.
  • Doctorate programs require about double the credit hour of a master’s program to obtain a degree. They also incorporate research and a dissertation. Some people spend five or more years to complete this process, but if you’re focused and have a plan, you can do it in 2-3.

You should check to make sure before enrolling in an online university that the above credit hours are to be awarded after your successful completion of the course material. You can check out the course numbers and determine how many hours of each type of credit they offer (graduate or undergraduate). Numbers from 100 through 400 are undergraduate classes, while 500 and above are graduate level courses. A college may use a slightly different numbering system say 1000 – 4000, but the same holds true for these classes too. 5000 and above are graduate level courses. Don’t let the additional zero on the tail end of the numbers through you off.

There are other types of programs that can meet your needs that don’t involve earning a degree. Said another way, online colleges have additional uses besides issuing degrees. These are online certification programs, professional ongoing education, professional development & personal interest courses. While not everyone will need to go through programs that offer traditional credits and degrees, it is a good plan for many.

Spend some time thinking and coming up with answers for why you plan on going back to school. This will change the type of online educational experience you get involved with. Know your purpose ahead of time and you’ll be able to pinpoint much easier the school that’s right for your needs.

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