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Advice For Considering an Online Degree in Public Health

written by: Kimberly Roberts, MPH•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 12/18/2009

When considering an online degree in public health, one must weigh accreditation of the school offering the degree and the quality and services of the program. Here you will find valuable information and direction to the American Public Health Association and other governing organizations to help.

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    Advice about Accreditation and Reputation

    Today’s society has afforded people to earn many levels of degrees in more convenient avenues. Earning a degree online has become incredibly popular and has expanded the opportunity for many individuals to further their education and improve their standard of living. However, with this increased opportunity also comes the responsibility of finding a school that is properly accredited, offers a valuable support in their services and has a program that meets your needs in terms of time and course demand.

    There are many acclaimed colleges that are not recognized by professional organizations as a valid educational system. They may even have well established web sites and cost a great deal of money however will not be recognized by many establishments. Many people have fallen into this predicament and lost a great deal of their money and time.

    There is very little legal support that is offered in fighting these situations because it is ultimately our responsibility to research and understand the accreditations for the universities we attend. The challenge is that a simple search using Google is not going to provide you the information and support you need.

    The following tips about accreditation can be used to aid in this process:

    • Utilize professional organizations affiliated with Public Health and its Concentrations. Their websites can offer advice however calling and speaking to individuals can give you advice, support and even suggestions on specific programs. A very reputable and professional organization within Public Health is the American Public Health Association. Aside from advice on education they can also offer insight into jobs in demand, different certifications and current issues and topics within the field.

    • Contact your Better Business Bureau or State Attorney Generals Office to ensure that the school you are considering is operating under legal guidelines. You can also see if other people have ever filed a complaint against the school.

    • To assure yourself that a school claimed accreditation is not fake you can look up the schools accreditation on the U.S. Department of Education’s List of Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies.

    • Search the U.S. Department of Education Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutes to ensure that school you are considering is of high quality.

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    Aside from assuring that the Public Health program you are entering is accredited from a recognized source, it is also important to consider the quality of certain services that the program offers. Being that all work is conducted online you want a program that offers fast and efficient technological support when there are problems or errors associated with navigating through the system.

    You also should consider a program that you experience very little problems in reaching a person to speak to about financial aid issues as well as departmental concerns with instructors. This can easily be evaluated through a trial run. Call the financial aid office and ask a question.

    Call the Public Health Department to ask a simple question about a course. How long where you put on hold? How long where you put through an automated service? Was the person you spoke with educated about the topic and able to answer your questions? A trial run can provide you information that will save you a great deal of time and stress in the future.

    Finally, once you find an accredited school and you have been able to speak with an individual within Public Health, it is important to thoroughly review what your expectations will be from start to finish.

    There are specifics that you must know from the beginning in terms of demand on time:

    • Some schools require internships that may take you out of your current job position for a period of time or add hours onto your day.
    • Other schools may offer online programs but require your attendance twice throughout the program for testing, presentations or reviews.

    The answers to these questions may assure that you are in an online degree in public health that will fit into your life or that you need to move on and continue your search.

    With today’s struggling economy building upon your education is vital to obtaining and holding onto a job. Earning an online degree in public health displays strong skills in time management, dedication, commitment and organization. If the proper steps are taken when choosing a program, then you can be assured that all of your sincere efforts will lead you to greater career and financial opportunity.

    By: Kimberly Roberts, MPH