Online Bachelor's Degrees

Bachelor's degrees are earned through colleges and universities and usually take four years to complete. Yet, programs can vary between two and six years, depending on the type and location of the program. Online Bachelor's degrees from accredited online schools usually offer the same credentials as campus-based programs, but with increased flexibility in studies and school choice.

How Online Bachelor's Degree Programs Can Pay Off

Earning a Bachelor's degree allows you to gain vertical knowledge and understanding of a subject. On a practical level, earning a Bachelor's degree, whether on-campus or though online schools, can improve your career options. 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) demonstrate that, on average, the higher the degree, the higher the weekly earnings and lower the percentage of unemployment. Here's how the data breaks down:

  • High school diploma: $651/week, 7.5 percent unemployment
  • Associate degree: $777/week, 5.4 percent unemployment
  • Bachelor degree: $1,108/week, 4.0 percent unemployment

Below is a full image from the BLS about how your job may improve as you continue to earn a degree.

Earnings and Unemployment Rates by Educational Attainment

Why Get a Bachelor's Degree Online?

There are many reasons why a student may want to earn a Bachelor's degree online; some students are looking to augment their current careers, while others are trying to position themselves better for their first job. Getting your Bachelor's degree online can also help you juggle other life obligations while going to school.

"Depending on the university, I think most adult students would be surprised at the makeup of a typical college classroom these days. At many universities, the average age of a student is well into the mid-20s," says Rodney Robbins, Manager of Student Services at Middle Tennessee State University. "For those students who can't imagine themselves in the classroom amongst younger counterparts, online options exist."

Overcoming Barriers to a Bachelor's Degree

When students have a full-time life, with career and family filling up their schedule, taking the time out to attend college can definitely be a challenge, says Robbins. Here are some of the typical roadblocks faced by students considering a Bachelor's degree, and how online programs may help to give them a leg up:

Feeling too overwhelmed to begin: "Courses are available that allow students to attend college at home and on their own schedule (online), or online with a few meetings for those who need to feel a connection to the instructor (hybrid courses)," says Robbins. In addition, he points out that some colleges offer a prior learning assessment so that students can earn college credit for previous knowledge gained throughout their lifetime.

Thinking you're "too old" to go back to school: The typical college classroom is changing, says Robbins: "Most faculty really enjoy having seasoned students in their classes. It always seems to add a perspective that can't be gained by a class of 18-year-olds." Student services support may also be available in the form of non-traditional student groups and academic coaching,.

Worrying about paying for it: A Bachelor's degree can be a good investment, but often an expensive one. Robbins says students should keep in mind that federal grants and loan programs are available for any student, regardless of age. "If a student has the need, they can be helped. In addition, I've seen many departments offering major-specific scholarships, and even scholarships aimed directly at adult students," he says. Check with your academic advisors for more financial aid information.

Once you can get past what's holding you back, you can be on your way toward choosing the right Bachelor's degree program for you.

The Top 20 Most Popular Bachelor's Degree Programs

Wondering what to study? Take a look at the 20 most popular Bachelor's degree program, as revealed in a study by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The following list includes the number of students enrolled in postsecondary education by major field of study for the school year 2011-2012 (the last year for which statistics are available):

  1. Business, management, and marketing: 2,089,000
  2. Health professions and related sciences: 1,482,000
  3. Education: 679,000
  4. Visual and Performing Arts: 604,000
  5. Psychology: 584,000
  6. Biological and Biomedical Sciences: 496,000
  7. Security and protective services: 494,000
  8. Liberal arts, sciences and humanities: 484,000
  9. Computer and information sciences: 475,000
  10. Engineering: 459,000
  11. Communication and journalism: 329,000
  12. English language and literature: 201,000
  13. Undecided: 187,000
  14. Parks, recreation, and fitness studies: 186,000
  15. Public administration and social services: 174,000
  16. Multi/interdisciplinary studies: 166,000
  17. History: 163,000
  18. Physical Sciences: 140,000
  19. Political science and government: 140,000
  20. Engineering technologies/technicians: 136,000


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm
  2. National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_311.60.asp
  3. Rodney Robbins, manager of student services, Middle Tennessee State University, interviewed via email by author, 9/15/2014

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