Online Education: The 5 Types of Online Programs

First thing that anyone should know about online education is the spectrum of courses that one could enroll in. Given the available choices, it would be a big help if one could easily distinguish one online program from another. In a nutshell, courses taken online can be grouped into 5 categories: (1) Online degrees, (2) Technical-Vocational courses, (3) Non-vocational courses; (4) Certificate courses, and (5) Personal Development courses. These courses are taken according to one’s reason for an online education, the convenience they give, and the benefits they bestow on the graduate.

Online Program #1: Online Degrees

The most basic type of online education, online degrees include Associate, Undergraduate, Master, and Doctoral degrees. Similar to those offered in traditional universities, these online programs ensure a university diploma after you finish them. These online programs take the longest to finish and are the most expensive, but don’t be concerned – companies are most probable to hire graduates with degrees. These online programs are best taken by those who want to shift careers or by those who want to further specialize within their respective fields of study.

Online Program #2: Technical-Vocational Courses

Technical-vocational courses consist of programs that train people on specific trades such as carpentry, plumbing, and dressmaking. Often chosen by people who want to learn skills that they could profit from ‘on the side’, technical-vocational courses ensure that people will have something to fall back on when the going gets tough. As an added benefit, the skills learned in a technical-vocational course may translate into lower household expenses and better business opportunities; a trade skill is almost always a recession-friendly career.

Online Program #3: Non-vocational Courses

Non-vocational courses are specific subjects that are included with the curriculum of a particular online degree. They are different from trade courses in the sense that they are more academic than practical, and are seen as prerequisites to the higher courses of an online degree. Given their nature, non-vocational courses have academic units, making them a popular choice for people who are just beginning an online education. These courses are also taken by people who are planning to take online degrees in the future.

Online Program #4: Certificate Courses

Certificate courses are online programs that ensure an accredited certificate for those who finish it. These kinds of courses can take as much as 1 year to finish, making them the perfect choice for people who want to shift careers quickly or for those who just want to get a sense of what online education is. Certificate courses are also taken by people who know the specific requirements of jobs they want (e.g. a Java Mobile Enterprise certificate for mobile applications programming), making it the easiest way to shift to some careers.

Online Program #5: Personal Development Courses

Personal development courses are online courses that focus more on the needs of the casual learner. Graduates are not usually accredited in any way and only rely on the experience itself to evaluate their learning. Personal development courses include cooking, photography, and creative writing – more are being added every year. Perfect for people over 40’s or for those who have lots of free time, personal development courses are the most casual of the bunch.

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