How To Choose The Right Online Degree
Online degrees are becoming an increasingly popular choice for university prospects. But how do you choose the right one?
For many students, going to university is not just about getting a degree. It’s also about moving away from home, being independent for the first time, meeting new people and learning valuable life skills.
For others, getting the campus experience may not be a required option. With the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more students are looking for alternatives to on-campus education than ever before.
This is where online degrees come in. Students can get the education they need from the comfort of their own homes.
Advantages of an online degree
Online degrees are handy for a number of reasons. An online degree is advantageous to those who would like to learn about their job, young carers who cannot leave home or those who may have financial difficulties.
Many students believe an online degree is considered less valuable than a normal degree, but this is false. As long as the degree is provided by a legitimate university, higher education college or training company, it shouldn’t matter to employers how the degree was earned.
More and more universities such as the King’s College London, University Central London, and the University of Warwick are offering high-quality online degrees including business, law and medicine. But with an increasing number of courses being offered by top-tier institutions, it can be tricky to choose which online degree is right for you.
Choosing the right provider
As mentioned, the advantage of an online degree is that you can study them from home. This means you can theoretically study at an institution of your choice anywhere in the world, you are not limited to a UK university if you don’t want to. You can view some Online Master’s courses on Postgraduate Search or you can research other search lists online.
Whichever institution you decide, it’s worth triple-checking if the course is offered by a legitimate provider – so you don’t get scammed. In the UK, you can view which institutions are recognised by the UK government and which are allowed to award a degree. Governments across the world have similar registers, you should do your research before applying – you can always contact the country’s national student union groups (or charities dedicated to students).
In the UK, there are institutions that specialise in online degrees, most notably Arden University and The Open University. However, an increasing number of traditional universities are offering online versions of their courses. The effect of the pandemic pushed students to adapt to studying online and people to work digitally remotely – thus paving the way for more online degrees.
When researching the best university for you, it’s also worth checking independent school rankings. Places such as The Complete University Guide, The Guardian, and QS Top Universities. These rankings are based on a number of factors including student satisfaction, graduate prospects, research quality and teaching standards.
How to spot fake degrees
One of the ways to spot a fake course is to see if they are recognised by their country’s government. In the UK, you can use this registered list. In other countries, you’ll have to search for a similar site. Another way to spot a fake university is its URL. In the UK, all legitimate universities’ URLs end in .ac.uk. Some legitimate universities have registered .ac to combat fraud, where websites such as www.oxford.ac will lead you to www.ox.ac.uk.
Length of study
Another thing about online learning is you need to think about the length of the study. You should think about studying at a pace that suits you, either full or part-time depending on your situation. On-campus degrees can take up to 2-3 years to complete, an online degree can take twice as long. You need to consider how much time you are willing to commit to learning and choose a course that meets your restrictions.
Difference between Blended Learning and Fully Independent Learning right provider
A lot of online courses are designed for fully-remote independent learning. You are given the learning materials and you go and study at your own pace. You may be given recordings of lectures or seminars, but your interaction with tutors is very limited.
However, there are more online degrees offered via blended learning, which combines traditional online learning with some interactive and physical learning. This typically involves a combination of self-paced online learning with scheduled online classes where you can engage with the tutor and other students, or self-paced online learning with some physical attendance at a local study centre.
You will need to consider if you have time to commit to some online or physical classes, or whether complete self-paced learning suits your lifestyle.
Method of Assessment and module choice
An important factor in choosing any degree is understanding the modules in the subject. A business degree at one university may differ from another university. This is because they focus on different areas of business or may teach business from different industries.
It’s important to compare module choices on different courses to see which interests you the most. You can also view which modules are mandatory and which you can choose to take to tailor your learning experience.
In addition to knowing the modules, you should also consider the method of assessment for the course. Some online courses are assessed via project-based tasks and coursework, but there are some that are assessed via exams. Note the exams could be held at a test centre or at the university campus.
It is important to choose a course assessment that helps you perform best. If you feel under pressure during exams, it might be best to choose a course that is coursework or project-based.
Studying for an online degree can be a lonely experience but it doesn’t have to be. It’s extremely important to find a university that offers good support to help make your online study less stressful. You should look at how the support is delivered, is it over the phone, email, video call or even 1-to-1 with a tutor? You should also find out if feedback is given on your work, is it regularly or only during assessment time?
But don’t just look at academic support, you should also see what personal support they offer. Could you get advice and support on financial or mental health issues from the university? You may not require the support right now, but it’s worth checking if it’s three just in case.
Another important part of the support you should look out for is employment support. You should know in advance if the course provider offers support in looking for jobs, work experience or even networking opportunities for distance learners.
Online Student Facilities
By studying online, all study materials are provided online. Some universities provide textbooks (paid), or access to their on-campus facilities such as computer rooms, labs or libraries.
It’s worth checking out prior to joining if you feel these may be helpful.
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing an online degree is the entry requirements. Entry requirements vary depending on the university and subject you are applying for.
Entry requirements for online degrees tend to be lower than on-campus degrees, so you may have more options available to you if you happen to have lower grades.
It’s also worth noting that although the entry requirements are lower, or have no entry requirements at all (such as The Open University), there is a minimum expectation that you have a basic computer understanding and a good grasp of the English language. If you are an international student and looking to study in the UK or an English-speaking country, you should read our English Language Test blog for more information on some of the world’s most accepted English proficiency certificates.
Getting a degree is seen as a stepping stone to a chosen career path. Many people who choose to study for an online degree do so to elevate their career opportunities, or to make a career change. The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) collect statistics on how employable students are from a particular university and degree. If employability is one of your top priorities, you should consider researching via HESA or similar websites to find the institution with the highest graduate employment numbers.
Tuition Fees (Lendwise)
Another big factor when deciding on an online degree is tuition fees. Typically, the online fees are cheaper than the campus-based degrees (as they cost more to run), although there are some exceptions. Fees can vary from as little as £3000 to a few dozen thousand depending on the subject and provider.
Provided you meet Student Finance eligibility requirements, you could fund the degree with a student loan. This means you start paying back once you hit a certain pre-tax salary threshold.
If you are unable to get a student loan, some providers do offer payment plans. Like normal degrees, you can still gain scholarships or bursaries for your online degree. If you are still unable to pay for the course, you can apply for a Lendwise loan to fund your postgraduate degree. You can apply through our website on the big button below, or you can contact our customer support team if you have any additional questions in either of the following options;
- Through our webchat service
- Book a call
- Call us at
9.2%* Representative APR (Fixed). Credit is subject to status. Over 18’s only. Terms and conditions apply.
This blog is intended to highlight areas you should look at when applying for an online degree. This blog is not intended to persuade you to do something you don’t want to do. If you have any questions, you should speak to charities such as Save The Student, The Student Room or other non-profit charities.
*This figure was correct as of 29 June 2023