Nearly all students have heard of online degree programs. However, many students may not know whether an online degree is an option for them. Are online degree programs only intended as the first steps to a college education? Are they for students who have already earned a degree but want an advanced education? In reality, online college programs offer opportunities to study at various levels from associate’s degrees to doctoral degrees.

A Different Starting Point

It used to be commonplace for students fresh out of high school to have to make a choice: to get a job or to attend college. With the growing popularity of online college degree programs, students may no longer have to make such a choice. Instead of sacrificing financial security to earn an education or sacrificing academic opportunities just to avoid going broke, students can earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree online while working, even full-time. Coupled with the fact that employers are increasingly viewing online degrees from accredited colleges more positively, according to CNN, online programs are rapidly becoming solid options for students who don’t currently have a college education.

Going Back to School

Many online college students are those going back to school in order to improve their job opportunities. They may have been out in the workforce for a couple years or a couple decades, but ultimately found that not having the right degree was holding them back from moving into management positions or getting their dream jobs. These students may have no degree, or an associate’s degree, or even a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Regardless of students’ current prerequisites for online college, they need a higher-level degree to advance to their desired career opportunities.

Changing Careers

Many online college students aren’t just advancing their current careers, but preparing for drastic career changes. To do this, they may be pursuing the next higher level of education in their desired field, as would be the case if a student with a bachelor’s degree in psychology decided to earn a business degree to pursue a marketing career. In other situations, a student may pursue an undergraduate degree even if he or she already holds an undergraduate or graduate-level degree in a different field. For example, a nurse seeking a career change may enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in literature or journalism. The multitude of possible courses of study and various levels of degrees available online makes it possible for students of online degree programs to pursue various opportunities.

Online courses aren’t strictly for people going back to school or for first-timers. They’re not exclusive to students who are interested in advancing in their current careers or to those looking to make a radical career switch. No matter what level of education you plan to pursue or what your current level of education is, your future academic and career plans stand to benefit when you consider pursuing your degree through taking online college courses.