The best majors and schools for online degrees

Smiling girl in graduation gown holding $20 billThanks to the Internet, earning a degree while maintaining a full-time job or having a family is no longer a huge struggle. Online degrees fit the learner's schedule and lifestyle without sacrificing other priorities. Not all online degrees are created equal, though. It is essential to research the program and the institution before enrolling in an online program.

Here are the some of the best choices that Money College found for pursuing online degrees:

Best online majors
Business degrees, both undergraduate business administration and MBAs, are wildly popular online degrees. An MBA helps advance a business career faster than simply slowly climbing the company's management ladder. Earning an MBA online allows a student to keep that important career position while preparing for job advancement. With such popularity, these programs for online degrees are competing with each other for students and promise a good education.

Health care and nursing programs have also been very successful online degrees. Barb Buckhave, a University of Phoenix student and 38-year-old mother, found that an online bachelor's degree in health administration was her best route for getting into nursing school. Traditional college didn't fit her schedule, but she didn't want to give up her dream of being a nurse. She started with UOP in June 2009 and will graduate in 2011. With the growing need for health care professionals, schools like Kaplan University, Strayer University and Capella University have capitalized on the demand for accessible education in the field of online degrees.

Early childhood education and K-12 education are also common online degrees. Associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees in education are all options online. U.S. News & World Report helps sort through the online programs available for those seeking an education or teaching degree. It's easy to pick an institute that fits each student's interests, budget and location.

Best online schools
It's a common misconception that online degrees can only be earned from institutions that publicly focus on an online campus, like University of Phoenix and DeVry University. Distance learning programs also give the flexibility of attending classes online. For example, Indiana University's Kelley School of Business offers an online MBA program that can be completed in two to five years with only two one-week visits to campus. Penn State World Campus offers one of the best distance learning programs in the nation with more than 70 undergraduate and graduate degrees online.

Avoid diploma mills when searching for online degrees. Employers know which degrees have been bought and which ones have been earned. The U.S. Department of Education keeps a thorough list of all institutions that are accredited. Beware of any school not on the list.

With so many online degrees and institutions available, it's important to compare them. Check more than one website's rankings because universities may pay to be named at the top of one particular list. Online Education Database offers an unbiased list including the scientific methods behind the ranking system.

Bottom line, be careful. Online degrees and institutions have opened a huge door of opportunity for nontraditional students. Always be sure to research the program and the school before paying tuition.
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