Online Criminology Degree – Is It for You?

Are you thinking about an online degree in Criminology? This type of learning has become more common in recent years, and it has a number of distinct advantages. In many cases, distance learning courses are taught by the same faculty members as the on-campus program. The curriculum is identical in both instances. Students must meet the same rigorous standards of achievement to graduate, whether they are studying on campus or online.

Advantages to Studying for a Degree Online

The main advantage to enrolling in an online Criminology degree program over the traditional on-campus format is that you can take classes on your own schedule. You don’t need to factor in time to travel to and from campus to when taking classes. Access to your classroom is as close as your Internet connection.

A number of these degree programs are self-paced. Students can choose to study on a full or part-time basis, to suit their schedule.

Students may be studying from anywhere, but they aren’t learning on their own. Participate in discussions with fellow students and instructors through discussion boards and online chats. Some instructors even hold virtual office hours at set times to offer assistance to students.

Class sizes are relatively small, which means that students and instructors can get to know each other. The model fosters more interaction between participants than you will find if you went to class in a large lecture hall.

Online degree programs are offered on a schedule measured in a certain number of weeks, as opposed to a term or a semester. This compressed timetable means you can plan your learning around a chunk of time that suits your schedule.

Save on the cost of books by using e-books instead of buying standard text books for your courses. You don’t have to physically take them from place to place when you are doing coursework, and the electronic versions may be available at a lower cost than the printed editions.

Enrolling in an online degree program means you will have access to online resources. Some schools offer an online library to their students. The University of Florida offers the same services to its distance students as its on-campus counterparts. Online learners can access a large archive of e-books, reference books, handbooks, newspapers, technical reports, and dissertations. They can contact a personal librarian assigned to the Criminology program for assistance and borrow regular loan print materials from the UF library or another university library. Materials arrive within one day or several weeks, depending on whether the item is being shipping from the University of Florida or another university library.

Students enrolled in online degree programs can take advantage of academic support and tutoring to keep them on track.

Disadvantages of Enrolling in an Online Degree Program

Enrolling in an online criminology degree isn’t a good fit for all learners. If you are the type of person who needs the structure of going to a classroom to stay on track, then this type of format is not going to work for you. Unless you are highly-disciplined, you won’t be able to stay committed to completing the program.

Students who choose to go to a brick a brick and mortar program to complete their Criminology degree will probably find it easier to contact their instructors. Some professors will be able to make time to make time for a face-to-face meeting after class, whereas online students don’t have this opportunity. Communication can get lost in translation when it must be confined to e-mail or online message boards.

Not all online classes qualify for financial aid. If you are thinking about applying for admission to a distance learning degree program, look for a school which is regionally or nationally accredited by an accrediting agency. Unless the school has this designation, you will not be able to qualify for financial aid.

Some employers may not recognize an online degree as being as valid as one obtained at a brick and mortar campus. As online learning becomes more commonplace, you are less likely to run into an employer who sees your credentials as second rate because you did not go to class at the school. When you complete your program, the paper you are awarded will look identical to a graduate who attended classes on campus. Your credentials are the same, and you do not have to reveal your method of obtaining your degree to a prospective employer.

Should you choose an online criminology degree? If you want the flexibility to work and go to school, this can be a viable option. You will need to be very disciplined to stay on track to complete your coursework without the structure of attending classes on campus, though. It can be a viable option for self-motivated students.

About the author: Leslie Anglesey is an associate professor in the University of Southern California and an editor at paper writing service. You may connect with her on Google+.

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