There’s no disputing the fact that a bachelor’s degree is a solid investment in your future. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals with a four-year degree make over $900 more per week on average than folks with a high school diploma. Another incontrovertible truth is that online bachelor’s degrees represent a highly convenient path towards securing this coveted credential. For many students, though, the burning question lies in which type of online bachelor’s to pursue.
Once you start to ponder this question, the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. Not only are there scores of different subject areas to choose from, but there’s also the matter of selecting a particular type of bachelor’s degree, whether it be a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), or Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS), for example. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, there’s still the task of deciding which online college or university to attend. It’s a lot to think about. To help you take the first step towards choosing the right program for your undergraduate studies, our editors have developed the following list of the ten best bachelor’s degrees to get online.
To develop this list of top online bachelor’s degrees, we considered factors like the prevalence of online options for the degree, median annual wages for degree holders, and projected growth rates for occupations in the field.
Online Bachelor’s in Social Work
The need for social services is growing in a variety of different sectors, including schools, healthcare facilities, and rehabilitation programs. An online bachelor’s in social work provides students with a flexible pathway to earn the credentials necessary to enter the broad field of social work. These programs are highly accessible; the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) has accredited well over two dozen online social work degree programs at the baccalaureate level.
Like other bachelor’s programs, a bachelor’s degree in social work offerings are comprised of approximately 120 credit hours of coursework, including general education classes as well as major-specific courses. Enrolled students can expect to study topics such as child development, public health, social services, and public policy, for instance. Because the field is so broad, many online bachelor of social work programs allow students to specialize in a sub-field such as Clinical Social Work, Healthcare, or Family Social Work, for example.
Graduates of online bachelor’s degree programs in social work have promising job prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for social workers are currently growing much faster than average. Other fast-growing positions for social work graduates include social and community service managers and substance abuse counselors. The pay associated with these jobs isn’t bad, either; PayScale reports the median annual wage for those earners with a bachelor of social work to be just under $50,000.
Online Bachelor of Computer Science
Another one of the best options for online bachelor’s degrees is a four-year program in computer science. These versatile academic programs are widely available and can set you up for success in several high-demand positions within the computer and information technology sector. U.S. News & World Report ranks 27 different colleges and universities that offer online bachelor’s degree programs in computer and information science. Options include degree plans from distinguished institutes of higher learning like the University of Florida and Arizona State University among many others.
Once enrolled in a bachelor of computer science program, you can expect to study fundamental topics in the field such as computer programming, computing ethics, data structures, and more. Because the field is so broad, many colleges and universities offer concentrations or emphases, enabling their students to specialize in a specific area of computer science. Some of the most common specializations within this field include Software Engineering, Computer and Network Security, Database Administration, and Human-Computer Interaction.
For graduates of bachelor’s in computer science online programs, career opportunities are abundant. Many computer science graduates go on to become successful information security analysts, database administrators, and computer and information systems managers, for instance. These available positions also happen to be some of the highest-paid entry-level jobs one can find with a four-year degree. According to PayScale, computer and IT professionals with a bachelor’s credential make over $85,000 per year on average.
Online Engineering Bachelor’s Degree
Another good option for college hopefuls in the market for a four-year degree? Engineering. Individuals looking to break into this field without the hefty commute or on-campus time commitment can do so with a convenient online bachelor’s in engineering program. These flexible study options prepare graduates for rewarding and lucrative careers in the broad and growing field of engineering.
One of the things that make engineering such an appealing option is also what makes it hard to define, at least in terms of curriculum. The field is so very broad that the plan of study may very well vary from school to school and program to program. A lot of what you will study in an engineering program will depend on what specialty you choose. Within a typical online bachelor’s of engineering program, you’ll find several concentration options, including those in Mechanical Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering, and more.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that overall, jobs for engineering will continue to grow about as fast as average over the next several years. Some jobs within the field of engineering are growing faster than others, though. For example, employment opportunities for industrial engineers are slated to grow by 8% in the decade between 2018 and 2028. Engineers are among some of the most well-paid workers with a bachelor’s credentials. According to the BLS, the median wage for all architecture and engineering occupations as of 2019 was over $81,000 per year.
Online Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
Like engineering, the field of business administration is a large one, meaning the opportunities for employment are both numerous and varied. If you’re strapped for time or have a less-than-conventional schedule, you can still earn the coveted BBA credential by enrolling in an online bachelor’s in business administration. In fact, this type of degree plan is one of the most common for students who want to complete their studies virtually; U.S. News & World Report lists over 185 institutes of higher learning with online bachelor’s degree offerings in general business administration and management.
While the curriculum for an online BBA program will ultimately be shaped by which of the many available specializations you choose to pursue, you can also expect to study business fundamentals like operations management, human resources, accounting, and marketing, for instance. As for concentration areas, you will find options in Entrepreneurship, Hospitality Management, International Business, Finance, Sports Management, and more.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), occupations in business and management are projected to grow faster than average over the next eight years. Some positions, including those for computer and information systems managers and financial managers, for example, are growing faster than others, however.
Graduates of Bachelor’s of Business Administration (BBA) programs are well-compensated and enjoy a high return on their investment. PayScale reports that professionals with this specific credential make over $65,000 per year on average.
Bachelor’s in Education Online
For those individuals who were born to teach, the desire to be in the classroom is often a strong one. Traditionally, teacher training programs were only offered on campus, meaning one had to make significant sacrifices in order to achieve the dream of becoming a certified teacher. While earning a teaching credential is still no walk in the park, online bachelor’s degrees in education have removed some of the barriers to post-secondary teacher training. These programs are now widely available, not only from colleges who offer exclusively online programs but also from well-known colleges and universities with physical campuses all over the country. Specifically, U.S. News & World Report recognizes more than 70 colleges and universities nationwide with four-year online teacher education programs. This includes reputable schools like the University of Georgia, Western Kentucky University, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
If you’re wondering what you’ll be studying in your online bachelor’s in education program, the answer is that it will depend on what subject you want to teach and at what level. Still, you can expect to take some fundamental courses in topics spanning child development, educational psychology, and instructional strategies, for instance.
The demand for teachers is growing steadily, and there are plenty of opportunities for advancements in the profession. Many teachers go on to study in a graduate degree program after finishing their online bachelor’s degree in education, which results in higher pay. According to PayScale, those educators with a Bachelor’s in Education (BEd) make just over $52,000 per year on average while those with a master’s credential earn closer to $60,000 annually.
There are also additional opportunities for online bachelor’s in education graduates that extend beyond the classroom. For example, jobs for training and development specialists are projected to grow faster than average over the next several years. These professionals are hired by companies to provide employee training for new protocols and technologies.
Online Bachelor’s in Architecture
One of the more obscure four-year degrees in our ranking, the bachelor’s in architecture online option is an appealing one due to its convenience and promising job prospects. The field of architecture may not be the first one that comes to mind when you think of virtual training opportunities, but these programs are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, if you’re looking for an online bachelor’s degree in architecture, you’ll have several different options to choose from, including a top-ranked program from the University of Arizona.
The curriculum for undergraduate programs in architecture can vary depending on the school you choose to attend, but most programs include similar core courses. These fundamental architecture classes will cover topics in contemporary and historical architecture, building design and technology, and theories of architecture, among others.
Not only are employment opportunities for architects growing faster than the national average, but these jobs are also highly lucrative. The median annual wage for these professionals according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is over $80,000. Top earning architects make over $135,000 annually, but these professionals usually have an advanced degree in the field.
Bachelor’s in Finance Online
On the hunt for an online bachelor’s-level program in finance? You’re in luck. These types of undergraduate programs are widely available to distance education students and can almost always be completed entirely online. That means no on-campus orientations or other in-person requirements. U.S. News & World Report features almost 20 fully online bachelor’s in finance programs, including those from Penn State University, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and the University of Alabama- Birmingham.
What really makes these four-year degrees appealing, though, is their promise of high-paying employment upon graduation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals poised to enter the financial operations sector will find an industry that’s currently booming. In particular, positions for financial managers, cost estimators, and personal financial advisors, all of which require only a bachelor’s credential, are currently growing at a faster-than-average pace.
The pay associated with these burgeoning employment opportunities is better than average as well. According to the BLS, professionals in financial occupations make nearly $70,000 a year on average.
Students enrolled in a bachelor’s in finance online program can expect to study industry-specific subjects such as risk management, investment strategies, economics, and financial ethics, for example. Depending on your school and program, you may also have the option of choosing a specialty area or concentration for your coursework. Some common options include Global Finance, Investing, Financial Economics, and Corporate Finance, for example.
Online Bachelor of Health Administration
Health care is a fast-growing field with many opportunities for bachelor’s degree holders. Many of these opportunities exist within the sub-field of health administration. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted that the demand for medical and health services managers will grow by 18% between 2018 and 2028—that’s much faster than average compared to other occupations. While most positions in healthcare entail some sort of bedside care, medical and health services managers fill administrative roles and oversee the operations of a doctor’s office, hospital department, outpatient care center, or other healthcare facilities.
Should you decide to pursue an online bachelor’s degree program in health administration, you’ll not only have promising job prospects on the horizon; you can also look forward to a six-figure salary. According to the BLS, managers who work in a healthcare setting make just over $100,000 per year on average.
Online options for students interested in a bachelor’s degree in health administration are readily available. In fact, nearly 60 colleges and universities have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report for offering accredited online bachelor’s degrees in this specific field. While most or all coursework required for these healthcare administration programs may be completed online, an internship is often required. Schools will typically work with their distance learning students to arrange for these experiential learning components to be completed at a hospital or clinic near their place of residence.
Not surprisingly, the curriculum for an undergraduate degree plan in health administration will be comprised of courses in both management and healthcare. These classes may address topics such as healthcare marketing, patient safety, quality assurance, and healthcare delivery systems, for example.
Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
One of the more popular bachelor’s degree choices for students interested in pursuing their educational credentials online is the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, commonly known as a BSN. One of the reasons this online credential is so popular is because the academic standards for nurses are changing. While an associate’s degree in nursing was once widely accepted by employers in the healthcare industry, more and more hospital administrators are requiring their nurses to have a bachelor’s degree.
Fortunately, colleges and universities across the country have stepped up to fill the demand for BSN programs, and many offer these degree plans online. U.S. News & World Report cites 130 different postsecondary schools across the country that offer bachelor’s-level nursing programs fully online.
When searching for the right online BSN for your needs and goals, keep in mind that there are different types of BSNs for students with various levels of experience, licensure, and education. There are more traditional online BSNs for those individuals just beginning their studies in nursing, for example, and there are online RN to BSN options for nurses who are already licensed. Of course, the curriculum for these programs will vary based on students’ prior knowledge in the field.
Nurses with a BSN are very well paid and have plenty of job opportunities, which is another reason why these degrees are so appealing. PayScale reports the average annual salary for healthcare professionals with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to be nearly $85,000.
Bachelor’s in Marketing Online
Jobs in marketing are currently experiencing a boom, and many of these occupations require only a bachelor’s credential for entry. For that reason, our editors included this type of degree plan as one of the best online bachelor’s programs to pursue right now. To illustrate, consider the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ growth projections for marketing managers and marketing research analysts. While the former is growing at a faster than average rate, the latter is increasing exponentially. That is, according to the BLS, positions for marketing research analysts are expected to experience a 20% increase between 2018 and 2028.
With a position in marketing, you can expect to be fairly well-compensated, too. PayScale reports that professionals with a bachelor’s in marketing make an average annual salary of over $52,000.
Bachelor’s in marketing online programs are also fairly easy to find. U.S. News & World Report indicates that more than 60 colleges and universities nationwide offer this credential fully online. This includes top-ranked programs from respected schools like Pennsylvania State University, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and Colorado State University-Global Campus.
Marketing is one of the broader professional fields, so online bachelor’s in marketing students can expect to have the option to specialize in a specific sub-field of the industry. Common concentrations include digital marketing, marketing analytics, integrated marketing communications, and public relations, for instance. Despite the emphasis area you choose, you can anticipate taking core courses in marketing fundamentals like marketing research, consumer behavior, and promotions strategies, for example.
U.S. News & World Report ranks over 350 colleges and universities offering online bachelor’s degrees, so no matter what field or occupation you choose, you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to finding a virtual program to meet your needs and aspirations. Choose wisely, and you’ll be on the path to secure employment, a fat paycheck, and abundant career advancement opportunities.
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