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Master Degree Options
Generally speaking, a master's degree takes two years to complete, but there are options available to students who wish to earn their degrees faster. The first options to consider deal with the types of degrees and the modes of instruction:
Technical vs. Non-technical Degree
There are many universities that offer online master degrees in practically any subject; if length of the program is a concern, however, students might want to consider pursing a non-technical degree with a basic program. Technical degrees usually have a few more courses in their degree plans.
Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Learning
In order to hurry their education online, students should consider taking online courses in asynchronous (independent) mode. This mode allows for flexibility and also gives students the chance to work on -- and complete -- courses much faster than in a synchronous learning environment (i.e., taking courses at scheduled days and hours).
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Ways to Earn a Quick Degree
Accelerated Degree Program
This is the ideal way to pursue fast online master degrees. Accelerated learning is designed for students with time constraints. This type of online learning entails taking courses which are normally shorter in length than traditional ones. Often, classes are scheduled back to back with no breaks in between. More responsibility is placed on the students to schedule their time to learn the material that needs to be mastered in much less time than the usual.
This type of university program is most appropriate for students who only want to focus on the required courses related to their fields of study. The students concentrate only on courses within a specific subject.
This is the quickest way to earn a master's degree, but it is also an option available to few. Some universities grant master's degrees as honorary degrees to deserving students who have not completed their coursework but have made major contributions to the academic community in their lifetimes.
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Choosing the Degree and the School
There are many universities and many online master degrees. Don't be overwhelmed! Here is what you can do:
- Every year, the U.S. News & World Report gathers information on various colleges and reports on those that are considered Top Schools. Reviewing the report is a great start to finding a reputable program.
- One of the universities that offer accelerated accredited master's degrees is American Intercontinental University. This regionally accredited institution offers master's degree programs that can be completed in as little as 10 months: the Master of Information Technology (MIT) with a concentration in Internet Security is an example of such programs. Fast online master degrees, however, are available also in business administration, education, healthcare management, and marketing.
- Other options include DeVry University, which offers regionally accredited programs that can be completed in one year.
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The 5 Steps to Consider
- Choose an accredited university
- Decide on a degree program
- Check to see if the degree is offered as an accelerated or fast-track program
- Ensure the degree and courses are online and asynchronous
- Enroll and create your own schedule to study for the course (this will help keep on track)
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Always check the accreditation of the schools before pursing fast online master degrees, because earning a masters degree from an unaccredited institution is normally not appealing to employers.
Take online courses from either a nationally or regionally accredited university. The differences between the types of accreditation lie in the institution’s curriculum. There are pros and cons for both types of accreditation, so examine your needs and choose accordingly.
There are six agencies that can grant regional accreditation:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Higher Education (MSA/CHE)
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE)
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
The three most popular national accreditation agencies are:
- Distance Education & Training Council (DETC)
- Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools (ACICS)
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT)
Remember: There are many universities that are not accredited. Always check the U.S. Department of Education web site for info on the accreditation of any chosen institution.
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Words of Advice
- Beware of diploma mills and check school accreditation
- Talk to the school advisor about an accelerated degree program or a fast-track option before enrolling
- Compare offers, tuition, and credibility before choosing
In summary, earning a master's degree quickly can be done! There are schools and programs out there on the Web to meet your education goal--to get a graduate degree at a distance in a short time period. It is now up to the student to choose the right school or program that suits them.
- Master's Degrees: http://www.distancestudies.com/Masters-Degrees.cfm
- Accelerated Degree: http://www.mastersdegree.org/accelerated-degree.htm