Online Education FAQs

If you're just looking into earning a degree online, you probably have a few questions. Take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about attending an online university.

Am I eligible to enroll in an online university?

Different online universities have varied enrollment requirements, but most programs require a candidate to possess at least a bachelor's degree. There may be additional admissions requirements such as course transcripts, health information, and GPA data, depending on the program.

Most online degree programs also require you to include your SAT or ACT results in your application, though this might not apply to all online universities.

Additionally, some universities require a teacher to already hold licensure in their field before they are eligible to enroll in a program. To learn more about your desired program's specific admissions requirements, request information from the university.

How much will my program cost?

Tuition costs range from affordable to more expensive at online universities, reflecting differences in what a university offers to a student. To get an idea of the tuition costs at different online universities, try contacting universities and asking about tuition options.

Many universities charge on a credit hour basis, meaning that you have control over how much you pay in a semester. By adjusting how many credit hours you take per semester, you can develop an affordable plan leading to your degree.

Will I be eligible for financial aid?

Financial aid allows you to apply for federal loans that will help you pay for your online degree program. The government provides a variety of financial aid options for students. For more information on different kinds of aid, click here.

The “Student Aid on the Web” page allows a student to create an account and calculate how much federal aid he or she may receive for enrollment at a university.

Some universities also offer private loans. Different universities offer different financial aid options, so request information from universities to learn more about what's available for you.

What will my course load look like?

In your online university, you'll have many different classes and subjects to choose from in a semester. Typically, in a master's degree program for education, students enroll in courses focused on curriculum, instructional techniques, leadership, methods of assessment, and research in education.

Coursework becomes more specialized for those looking to get into specific education fields, such as special education, early childhood education, or K-12 education.

You'll be able to personalize your course load based on your individual goals and graduation timeline. Online universities allow you to tailor your course schedule in a way that won't interfere with the rest of your life. For example, if every day you work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., then you'll be able to set up your class schedule to complete work during your off hours.

How will I know which courses I should take?

If you've glanced at the course offerings at your university and feel overwhelmed, take a breath and relax! Universities do not expect you to try to pick and choose from the multitude of options without any help.

When you enroll in an online university, you'll have access to academic advisers who will help you craft a strategic path to graduation. Your academic adviser will walk you through the course selection process, giving you information about classes required for your degree, in addition to optional electives.

Your academic adviser will also ensure you're signed up for the proper classes, and assist you with any further questions you have.

Will I need to purchase textbooks?

Some online universities require physical textbooks, while others offer digital copies. Sometimes students must purchase reading material separately, while other universities include them in tuition and fee costs.

Students should be prepared to purchase their own textbooks if their degree programs require it.

Will I need to take time off work?

Your course load will dictate how much time you must devote to your online education. Some students may feel the need to adjust their work schedule in order to fit in the hours of school work and studying required to successfully pass their courses.

Many students find time to complete classwork and reading in the mornings, after work, or over the weekends. The most important step you can take is to create a set schedule you can follow. Adhering to your schedule will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed, and allow you to find the best times in your day to complete class work.

How much work offline will I have?

The majority of your teacher education program will take place on the Internet. Depending on how your program is set up, this might include viewing videos, slideshows, and completing online reading assignments, followed by class discussion.

But most master's degree programs in education require a number of hours in student teaching or internship scenarios. Student teaching and internships will take place offline, allowing you to gain experience in an actual classroom.

These situations are typically the only points during your online degree program that you will need to complete work offline. Some courses might require additional offline responsibilities though, like attending teacher events or shadowing a teacher at a school.

How will I interact with my classmates?

Most of your classmate interaction will take place over message boards, chat rooms, and e-mails. You'll have to become an effective writer in order to succeed in an online degree program, able to craft well thought-out e-mails and responses that get your points across.

Through a message board system, for example, there might be a few different forums for students to use. One forum might be for in-class help with work or assignments, another might be a general topic forum where students can post about anything, and another might be designated for constructive criticism.

Social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are also becoming more popular avenues for students to communicate with each other. Students might organize group chat study time, or find ways to meet up in person if they live near each other.

How will I interact with my teachers?

In an online degree program, teachers typically post discussion topics on message boards or on class websites that allow you to communicate and post responses. Topics might include thoughts on a class reading, or feedback about an assignment.

You'll mainly communicate with your teacher through this message board system or through e-mail. How your relationship develops with your teacher largely depends on how active you are in establishing communication with your teacher.

The more you do to stand out by posting constructive responses to discussion questions and by frequently e-mailing your teacher, the more connected you'll feel to your class and teacher.

Will I need to take teacher examinations to graduate?

Some students may be required to take examinations that test their content and teaching knowledge, depending on their state's certification requirements. During your online degree program, you'll gain study tips, test-taking skills, and feel well-prepared to successfully pass any required examinations.

How long will it take to graduate?

How long you'll spend in your online degree program depends on a number of factors. Many students who enter an online university might have previously completed credit hours at a traditional university, but may have never graduated.

In these cases, credit hours may be transferred to the online program, reducing the number of classes a student must take to graduate. Typically, students who transfer credits into an online program might finish within two years.

Students may finish earlier depending on how much time they dedicate to completing coursework, tests, and reading materials. You have to learn how to become an efficient, dedicated, and self-motivated student to excel in an online degree program. For more information on how to manage your time effectively and prepare yourself for working online, click here.

Will my degree lead to certification?

Each state has different certification requirements for teachers. To learn about earning certification through your online master's program, request information from universities you'd like to attend.