5 of the Most Popular Degree Programs for Nontraditional Adult Learners

With every year, more and more nontraditional students are returning to college or university – or embarking on a collegiate journey for the first time – to broaden their earning potential and career prospects. Around forty percent of all currently enrolled students are nontraditional students over the age of twenty-five. Nontraditional students represent a broad range of groups, from combat veterans and single parents to post-thirty students who want to complete a second degree and retirees who wish to enrich their autumn years.

Pre-professional and specialized programs are immensely popular among non-traditional students, especially those with families – an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is very often more than adequate to launch a new career or increase earning potential. Here are five of the most popular degree programs for nontraditional adult learners.


Accounting is a rapidly changing and growing industry, and becoming an accounting assistant, bookkeeper, or tax advisor often only requires an associate’s degree in accounting. The accounting industry offers good wages and benefits to skilled workers, and some accounting firms and companies offer tuition reimbursement to employees who want to go on to higher degree studies.

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Cybersecurity qualifications are in huge demand, as most of the world’s business operations and pay systems are entirely online. In addition, cybersecurity as an industry is facing a global shortage of trained professionals, placing those who have credentials in cybersecurity at a distinct advantage – especially when negotiating for salary and benefits. Cybersecurity professionals can make six figures annually based on skills and experience, and this well-paying field is accessible with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity with a few other certifications after degree studies are complete.

Medical Coding

Medical coding is another industry facing a labor shortage, and is also expected to grow significantly over the next few years. Medical coding is becoming an increasingly popular degree choice among nontraditional adult learners – the labor shortage results in employee advantage and, in addition, medical coders typically enjoy an excellent salary and benefits. Medical coding is also a popular choice among single parents with young children at home, as the daytime hours permit parents to frame their schedules around daycare and school hours.

Liberal Arts

While liberal arts might not seem at once to be a highly specialized degree, liberal arts majors are often sought after by companies due to the well-roundedness of this humanities-based program. Many liberal art programs also offer concentrations such as psychology, mathematics, honors studies, music, or a hard science such as chemistry or biology. Liberal arts degree holders may find employment among a broad range of industries from marketing and education to human services and applied sciences. A degree in liberal arts also prepares students well for a variety of other academic fields, making it an excellent program choice for those pursuing an associate’s degree.

Applied Science

Like liberal arts, applied science degrees give a broad overview of a variety of subjects only concentrated in the hard sciences rather than the humanities. Similarly again, many applied science programs offer specializations like chemistry, biology, physics, or even computer science. Applied science majors may work in a variety of positions from electronics programming to chemical research – positions that often offer excellent salaries and benefits.

Each of these programs represent a variety of interests and aptitudes, and ultimately may lead to a stable and fulfilling career – of especial importance to students who are also raising families. Whether nontraditional adult learners attend a community college or a graduate program, one of these degree choices may well to help them achieve their long-term goals.