The desire to continue one’s education after attaining a bachelor’s degree – or resume it after earning real-world work experience – is fairly common. And in the field of cyber security, it can be quite beneficial to climbing the career ladder. It’s also relatively common, though, to think it isn’t feasible to return to school for any number of reasons – cost and convenience standing out prominently among them. Those working full-time may fear that they won’t have the time to complete their studies appropriately or they might fall back on their professional responsibilities while doing so.
Fortunately, the rise of online graduate programs in cyber security from accredited institutions such as Maryville University has helped many would-be grad students obtain advanced education that may lead to broader professional options. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics exemplifies how much online degree programs have expanded: In 2004 only 6 percent of graduate students completed classwork exclusively online, and by 2012 that figure tripled to reach 18 percent. By 2015, approximately 29 percent of students used online courses in one way or another, even only for one or two courses.
Those figures indicate that online learning is now established as a viable educational avenue. Yet some may still question its efficacy and practicality compared to the traditional on-campus programs to which they’re accustomed.
Let’s take a look at 6 of these issues:
1. Online and for-profit learning aren’t the same
Arguably, the biggest misconception regarding web-based distance learning programs offered by nonprofit institutions involves them being confused with the offerings of for-profit colleges, nearly all of which have a horrible reputation in educational circles. These days, however, there are reputable private and public nonprofit graduate schools all over the world that offer at least some of their traditional on-campus programs as online programs, so if you’ve confused the two, set that myth aside right away.
2. Value of online courses
Beyond that, some may believe that online courses are less valuable or reputable than on-campus classes. But this can’t be considered a truism anymore, as U.S. News and World Report points out that the majority of web-based courses have gone through the same certification steps as their physical counterparts. Credits carry the same weight and are often transferable to other institutions as needed.
3. Employers trust online degrees
Investopedia noted that 83 percent of executives who were familiar with online courses considered the degrees earned by students to be just as credible as those from on-campus degree programs. As technology evolves and the presence of private and public nonprofit schools offering their programs online continues to increase, company leaders are recognizing the value of an online education.
4. The convenience factor
CareerBuilder pointed out that for adult professionals, online courses offer a flexibility unmatched by on-campus graduate programs. Tom Johansmeyer, who earned a Master of Business Administration online and then worked toward a doctorate, kept his education going despite a massively busy schedule.
“I was working as a management consultant and spending 40 weeks a year on the road,” Johansmeyer told CareerBuilder. “With that kind of travel schedule, it would’ve been impossible for me to get to a classroom.”
5. Real-world experience
Students enrolled in Maryville University’s online cyber security program also enjoy a number of advantages specific to the field that helps bring real-world experience into the learning process. The school’s Virtual Lab coursework simulates situations that graduates will encounter, while the Cyber Fusion Center showcases information security tasks being carried out in real time.
6. Not a solitary endeavor
Online learning discussion forums allow every student to participate in genuinely democratic conversations about the subject. Also, for students who feel anxiety about public speaking, the online setting insulates them somewhat while still allowing them to express their ideas.
U.S. News and World Report noted that phone calls, live chat and Skype are frequently used by professors to conduct one-on-one conversations in a more direct manner. Additionally, some online learning instructors offer “office hours” like those of on-campus teachers.
Is an online degree right for me?
The need to work a full-time job to make ends meet should not be something that prevents an individual who is interested in advancing his or her education – and by extension, his or her career prospects – from doing so. Online learning effectively eliminates this roadblock. As such, Maryville University’s web-based cyber security courses may be perfect for busy professionals who have demanding jobs and are looking for a more flexible option to continue their education.
Keep in mind that the alternative setting of online learning doesn’t mean students have fewer, easier assignments, or can be less engaged. The Huffington Post stated that any worthwhile online course is as structured as any in-person class, so attendees must approach distance learning with dedication and effort. A master’s degree in cyber security earned online can serve as a viable path to help advance your career, but it should be treated with care and consideration by students.