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Online College Degrees


Distance education and online degree programs allow a student to pursue a college degree without needing to attend a brick and ivy institution of higher education. Many online degree programs are offered by colleges and universities that specialize in distance education, such as University of Phoenix and Devry.

With the repeal of the 50/50 rule by the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005, traditional colleges and universities are offering more courses and degree programs online. The 50/50 rule prohibited colleges receiving federal student aid from offering more than half their courses or enrolling more than half their students through distance learning programs.

The best resource for information about online college degrees and distance learning programs is Monster Learning. This site presents an integrated directory of online degrees and campus-based programs in addition to a library of articles about distance learning. You can search or browse the directory in a wide range of subject areas and degree programs.

Online degree programs include everything from GEDs and certificates to associates, bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees. Majors include art and design, business, marketing, nursing and healthcare, culinary arts, education, accounting, law and criminal justice, psychology, hotel and hospitality, and technology among other fields.

Distance learning programs provide an alternative path to a college education for traditional students. Online education is especially attractive to nontraditional students who work during the day, since it allows them to study on evenings and weekends.

Distance learning is also useful for military personnel and their children. The US Department of Defense (DoD) sponsors the Defense Activity for Non-traditional Education Support (DANTES) to support off-duty education programs for the DoD.

Beware of Diploma Mills

With the growth of online education opportunities comes risks. Diploma Mills are unaccredited institutions that offer worthless fake degrees. These degrees require little effort and are awarded based on "experience" and your willingness to pay money for a piece of parchment. Listing such a degree on your resume may prevent you from being hired and can be grounds for your being fired if the fake credential is discovered after you are hired. More companies these days are using degree verification services, such as the National Student Clearinghouse and their DegreeVerify service, to review the credentials of potential employees. The Spokesman Review has published a list of buyers of bogus degrees.

The best way of determining whether a college is legitimate is to search for it in the US Department of Education's database of all accredited US colleges and universities. If a college is not included on this list, it is most likely a diploma mill. When searching the database, be careful about diploma mills that use names that are similar to those of legitimate colleges.

For more information on diploma mills, see the Oregon Office of Degree Authorization. Use of unaccredited degrees is illegal in Oregon. Other good sources of information include an alert published by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Diploma Mills: Degrees of Deception, and a report from the US General Accounting Office, Purchases of Degrees from Diploma Mills.

Best Directories of Online Degree Programs

The following are some of the best and most popular directories of accredited online colleges and universities.

Specialized Directories of Online Degree Programs

Other Directories of Online Degree Programs

There are dozens of other directories of online degree programs, all listing more or less the same colleges and universities. Most claim to be the largest, but there is not much to distinguish one from the others.

Books about Distance Learning

Several books have been published about distance learning. The most popular current books include:

Other guides to distance education include:

  • BA in 4 Weeks, a guide to earning college degrees through online exams.
  • Degree Finders, a guide to distance learning research and consulting.


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