Attending an online university for a masters degree

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Sideonecincy, Mar 30, 2010.

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  1. Sideonecincy macrumors 6502

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    #1
    I am currently looking at possibly attending online schools to earn my masters degree. I believe online is a better option because the local universities around my area currently don't offer a masters in Information security & assurance. Does anyone on here have advice on finding my best possible choices? I've went through a few search engines but I am mostly finding online programs for information systems.

    I took several online courses during my undergrad, but any advice on attending an online school would be appreciated. Plus, information of how to find who all offers a degree in information security/assurance would also be welcomed.

    Please note, I'm not really looking for opinions of whether a masters degree is worth the time and money in the information technology field in today's market.
     
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #2
    I'd start by looking at which schools offer Infosec degrees, then see if they have an online or distance learning option.
     
  3. abijnk macrumors 68040

    abijnk

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    #3
    A lot of very good universities are setting up some stellar online programs. I know UCLA and USC both have really good online degree programs geared towards people who work full time, however they are open to anyone who wants to do it.

    Like miles said, start by searching for universities that offer the program you are looking to get in to, and then see if they offer an online option.

    Be careful when looking at for-profit online universities, as some of them have substandard curriculum, while others are just as good as a more traditional university. Do your due diligence if you consider going that route.

    Good luck!
     
  4. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #4
    Know your field very well and find out what peers are doing.

    Whatever you do, avoid most banner ads on the internet, and pay no attention to rankings of non-educational rags and glossy magazines like US News and World Report or Businessweek.

    In order to find a good program, you really have to do your research with people in the field. A graduate degree is no small choice and certainly not affordable for most good schools and there are a lot of sub-standard institutions who put up the best looking advertising.
     
  5. joro macrumors 68020

    joro

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    #5
    Last year I graduated from Florida State University through their online MBA program and I absolutely love the online format for schooling. There are a couple of important things to keep in mind however the most important of which is that online classes require significantly more dedication and an ability to self-motivate than more traditional face-to-face classes. Although they are much more flexible, online classes from a legitimate university still require a substantial investment in time (if not more than there more traditional counterparts) because a huge part of the schooling is self-taught by reading texts, online journals, and/or completing projects through the coursework. Sure you can do the bare minimum to get by but I’m a big believer in garbage in, garbage out; that is if you don’t put much effort in you won’t get much from a degree – after all why would you spend a potentially huge sum of money to only “learn” a few new things?

    My biggest suggestion to you would be to avoid completely online universities because even though their curriculum may be as good as a normal university there certainly is a stigma attached to them when they are listed on a resume – particularly in the sense that most people think they are “joke” or “easy” degrees. The great thing about FSU’s program was nowhere does it indicate the degree was obtained online – not on the diploma itself nor my transcripts – so a potential employer wouldn’t be able to distinguish me from someone who obtained their MBA on campus. Similarly, the fact that it’s offered through a school such as FSU, means the degree is accredited by the AACSB – the preeminent accreditation for business schools. These types of things while they may sound small and cost you more, in the long run they will pay dividends.

    Good luck! :D
     
  6. pooky macrumors 6502

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    #6
    Exactly this. As a professor, I've found that most students do considerably worse in the online or distance format, and that there is generally no substitute for face time. This becomes even more true in graduate school. So my advice on choosing where to get your online masters is to not get one. Take the time to take the courses in person.

    Having seen what I've seen, if I were hiring someone, I would be very hesitant about someone with an online M.A. or M.S., especially if the job relied on those skills. Give me two equally qualified people, one with a traditional degree and one with an online degree, and I'll take the person with the traditional degree every time.
     
  7. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #7
    It's becoming more common these days for institutions that have online or distance programs to make no distinction between students who earn their degrees on campus and those who earn it through the online program as far as what's actually on their diploma (for example, the University of Illinois). If I were choosing a place to earn a degree via distance learning, I'd be sure that wherever I was going had this policy.

    Note this doesn't apply to "online universities" like University of Phoenix (which, in my opinion, is little more than a diploma mill).
     
  8. abijnk macrumors 68040

    abijnk

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    #8
    Yes, most online programs from traditional universities are this way now. It makes a big difference because you don't get that stigma attached to it.

    In the end the degree is just supposed to get you in the door, it's your application of that knowledge on the job that will be the final determination of how successful you are. It isn't and shouldn't be where you sat to take your classes.
     
  9. joro macrumors 68020

    joro

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    #9
    Just for the sake of argument I think it is important to point out that getting an online degree from a reputable university isn’t a cop out. There are students, myself included, who have excelled at both traditional and online universities. In the case of the latter, there are certainly students who don’t get a fulfilling education because they consider online classes easier and as a result don’t try as much to enrich themselves with the knowledge gained in a university. To that point there are students I saw at community college and the university I got my bachelor’s at that are just as lazy in a traditional class as they are online. As mentioned in my previous post – garbage in, garbage out – if you don’t put in the time or effort to be successful you won’t be and you won’t expand your knowledge accordingly.

    My point in saying all that is that while I understand it, I don’t agree with pooky’s position. Online programs can be, and in my experience are, better than the same classes taught traditionally assuming you, as a student, are committed to actually learning.

    This is definitely a trend in education. As I mentioned in my post my master's degree from Florida State has no mention of an online program on the degree itself nor the transcripts. So if you were looking at two equally qualified applicants, you wouldn’t be able to make the distinction between who had an online program and who didn’t.
     
  10. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #10
    I went to a school, on campus, which was run by Microsoft and accredited by the company, the US Department of Education, and by CompTIA, an industry standards agency which includes many member companies like IBM and Cisco. I also went to a university which was merely regionally accredited.

    Looking from a viewpoint of knowing nothing, the first school sounds better, but the ONLY accreditation that counts is one of the six regional ones. In California, it's WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges). In New York, for instance, it's the Middle States Association, and then there are four others for different areas of the country like the southern US and the north.

    Beware of schools, like one in my town, which is accredited by the US Department of Education, the AACSB for their MBA, the Department of Defense, but not WASC. While the Department of Education is a great agency and the AACSB has some regionally accredited schools on their roll (as well as US Dept. Education), it's the WASC which a smart HR person looks for.

    While it's counter-intuitive for an employer to ignore an AACSB, the Feds, or a well thought of giant high tech monopoly like CompTIA, education in the United States considers anything outside of the six regionally accredited agencies as "baby" agencies or merely add ons to a regional accreditation, and though real, have little or no weight.

    I worked for the State Bar of California and while that's key to be a lawyer in this state, what was troublesome was due to some financial pitfalls the agency has endured (he, he, I am not going to mention anything political as I grit my teeth), there has been some consideration of allowing law schools who are not regionally accredited to become State Bar members. So in the end you can get a law degree, pass the bar and become a lawyer and even judge in California, and yet not have a law degree that is regionally accredited.

    The junior college I went to will only hire instructors who are usually with a master's degree or higher from a regionally accredited school, and will not hire a lawyer/judge if they went to a non-WASC school as that goes against the rules of the community college system in California as they too are WASC controlled.

    And for the controversial University of Phoenix, you can say what you want, but they are regionally accredited despite the complaints that they are a giant and for profit and have their name on a stadium and slick commercials. They remind me of a disturbing entity called Microsoft. :)

    Personally, I would rather go to my non WASC business school near me who is small and AACSB accredited, but HR people want the WASC so they will hire a University of Phoenix person over one who is AACSB/United States DoD and Department of Education. Go figure, but when looking online, right next to finding a good fit, make sure it's regionally accredited.

    If the school proudly mentions US Department of Education, AACSB, or some "online" accreditaton agency, but not a regional accreditation agency, then run for the hills and find that school that is accredited by the agency of their region.

    That being said, if it's regionally accredited by one of the six agencies, then it doesn't matter how many other agencies also accredit it including uncle Bob's hot chick campus of the year or if it ranked #1 in Playboy's party school of the year (which that school very proudly put on their front page). Hey, dude, I am sure it got many students. :)
     
  11. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #11
    Very true, and that coming from a student who has two brick and mortar degrees.

    Online is the future the same as the iPhone and iPod and it's here to stay.

    I have not done any online classes myself, but I know a ton of teachers, professors, managers, and entrepreneurs who have done some online schooling or a completely online degree. In my parts, Phoenix, GGU, Santa Clara, Pepperdine, CSU system, and University of California system has embraced the internet.
     
  12. iOrlando macrumors 68000

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    #12
    might be wrong but the OP said online universities not online courses.

    so something like Phoenix University. which I think is a waste of time and money.

    instead, the OP should go the route with online courses, similar to what the previous posters have been talking about, although the cost will be a ton higher.
     
  13. joro macrumors 68020

    joro

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    #13
    I’m not trying to direct this at you because you made a good point about not having experience with the online programs but I do think it’s difficult for anyone to question online programs that are dually accredited without truly getting a chance to experience the programs first-hand. I have three degrees, two of which I obtained via traditional face-to-face classes, and the third of course was online. I think everyone has different ways of learning and managing time and for someone like me who’s very motivated and detail orientated, I much preferred online coursework to traditional.

    I also felt like the only thing I missed difference wise from a traditional vs online was the ridiculous cost and fees of the former ;)
     
  14. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #14
    I agree that online is a great idea. My brick and mortar schools regionally accredited, both of them, also has an online option and the teachers and degree are one and the same. My non regionally accredited school I went to I truly loved and later went to work for, was very comprehensive helped me get Microsoft Certified and helped me land a lot of good gigs and more money than I had ever made and more money than many with a CS degree. I don't regret having gone to a non regionally accredited school, but I am glad I have two on my resume which are regionally accredited. My non-regionally accredited school had four national accreditations, all highly respected, but in the end it was not a real school in the eyes of more traditional schools nearby like Berkeley and Stanford.

    I also have a great respect of many models of schooling, however, if your school has one, two, or five accreditations, one of them should be a regional one from one of the six regional agencies (such as WASC) in my state for instance, so it's real and not a diploma mill or school not yet accredited but with good intentions in the accrediting process.

    One school they built, Cal State University Monterey Bay, had the full faith of AACSB, the Department of Education, and the Fort Ord Reuse Authority in charge of the changeover from military base into a California State System school, but it took nearly a decade to get WASC.

    The school had to first be deemed physically safe, then have ADA compliance, then have a curriculum which was acceptable.

    After that, they got provisionally accredited by WASC.

    After a probation time, the were given full status as a regionally accredited school and thus had the full status of a college equal to other California State University locations. Anyway, www.csumb.edu.

    Today, any new person at the school doesn't remember when they were a two person office, and a school in name only, right across from Burger King. This is how a school starts in their infancy, and the school system's regents allowed for the process to begin. But it wasn't until they got their WASC papers that educational books, such as Princeton Review, started listing them as actually existing.

    At no time during the process before they got accredited, and were up and running, were they a bad school. What they were was a school in limbo. They had already acquired names such as film director Luis Valdez and CIA Director (then former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta), and that probably quickened the process of helping the original two person startup office off campus turn into a real school with a physical campus, parking, classes with professors, library, and finally online school.

    If there is a second, third, or fourth accredited agency involved, the more the merrier as long as the school is legit with its regional accredited status, whether they got that first, or acquired it much later.

    The good thing is that when a school finally gets regionally accredited, all graduates prior to the regional accreditation receive the full honor and benefits of having gone to a regionally accredited school. I hope your online school is, or in the process of getting a regional accreditation.
     
  15. SilentPanda Moderator emeritus

    SilentPanda

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    #15
    You can try a few sites to look... I was poking around mostly at elearners over the weekend. You can also view a schools accreditation here. I made sure the schools I looked at were accredited by the same bodies that accredit my local large universities.
     
  16. callmemike20 macrumors 6502a

    callmemike20

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    #16
    I thought MBA programs weren't necessarily about the learning involved. Rather, it is all about the networking and, to a large extent, the name of the school. How do you truly network without seeing people in person.
     
  17. Jason Beck macrumors 68000

    Jason Beck

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    #17
    I am in my second year at Stevens-Henager college. They are a little pricey, but the courses and professors are just awesome. For signing up they even give you a laptop and it is yours to keep after you graduate. Computer fields (graphic arts like I am taking) get you a free Macbook Pro with a very nice high end targus bag. While the computer really isn't free (You do have to pay for college through student loans and grants or however so it will probably be included in their overhead), it is great to start out with something.

    They also send FedEx you all of your textbooks for your courses. I receive my books every month and they are mine to keep. Some of them are pretty pricey, the advertising class I am in right now utilizes a 150$ textbook from Amazon. Most are above 50$.

    Software wise they also give you Microsoft Office, and if you are going in to
    design you get a free copy of Adobe Creative Suite CS4 Design Premium
    Student. I love it.

    Anyone that has done distance learning will tell you that it is what you
    make of it. It is up to _you_ to not fall behind, up to you to succeed.
    All I can say is tote around your laptop everywhere with your course
    material, and study! I just made the dean's list and my GPA is pretty
    high.

    Another thing, make sure your school is accredited. The one I am with
    is. To see if the one you are looking at is, check out:
    http://www2.ed.gov/students/prep/college/consumerinfo/choosing.html
    Also it doesn't hurt to check in with the BBB too.

    Online learning is a great experience. My bachelors degree will take a full
    4 years, and they do have Master Degree programs as well.
    The certificates, the degrees, everything do not have "online university"
    on them, so that is a plus too.

    Good luck, and don't forget to take advantage of the tax credit at the end
    of the year for being a full time student, if you enroll. I got back an extra
    grand : ).
     
  18. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #18
    I agree.

    Networking with people in person is very key for MBAs. I got my first half of my MBA from the school's satellite campus, but when they closed down that particular satellite campus, it forced me to have to finish the second half of the degree online.

    In the end, I will have that MBA and be glad that I did have at least one year with students I went to school with. It's better than if I have to do the whole program online. I am lucky that I live in an area where a school was built and operated in a location for 33 years.

    But what if I am in the middle of Alaska and want an MBA? What if I am serving on a ship in the navy? For many, purely online MBA education is the only viable option. You can't fault somebody for that.

    Five years down the line, the person will have an MBA and nobody will care who you "networked" with at what campus. Who will ask, "Did you meet great peers at school? or Were your peers only names in cyberspace?".
     
  19. Jason Beck macrumors 68000

    Jason Beck

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    #19


    I agree with your statement. I would also like to add to my previous one.
    If you do in fact go the online route, and can take one or two classes at
    a college or university, do it. I'm talking even if those credits do not
    go into your current degree and you have to pay for them. I plan
    on taking some photography classes at Southern Utah University, or even
    some added design classes. It may not add anything to your portfolio,
    but as a success it will be an invaluable experience.

    With that being said, if you go online, do try and take a class or two
    at a local college too. I may even continue on and get another degree
    after this one, except at SUU instead of online. I hear the fine arts
    program at the university here is pretty decent, so I may go for a bachelors
    with an emphasis in photography. Who knows. : )
     
  20. Jason Beck macrumors 68000

    Jason Beck

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    #20
    This is off topic, but your avatar is pretty rad.

    I was scrolling and had to scroll back up because I was
    like, "Was that thing movvvving?"

    LOL.
     
  21. Svend macrumors member

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  22. Eldiablojoe macrumors 6502a

    Eldiablojoe

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    #22
    Brandman University, the online version of Chapman University, a private, fully accredited Southern California university.
     
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