Getting Into an Online Degree Program

Despite the ease and convenience of an online degree program, some people avoid applying for admission to one because they might not be sure what’s required of them. The good news is that applying for an online degree program is largely similar to applying at a traditional college or university.

You’ll first need to gather relevant information about your educational experience, including test scores (like the SAT or ACT) and any eligible credits you’d like to transfer. If you’re applying for a graduate-level program, most online universities will also want to see your GRE or GMAT scores. These are things you’d also need to have when applying at a brick-and-mortar institution.

The easiest way to find a list of what’s required is to visit the site of your chosen online degree program. Digital institutions, especially legitimate, accredited ones, make it easy to find what you’ll need in order to be considered for admittance. For instance, Kaplan University requests that you provide them with a certified copy of your high school diploma (or a valid) transcript, or a copy of your military record showing high school equivalency, or a GED. Similarly, their graduate department requires applicants to submit a transcript from an accredited university. Another example is Phoenix University, which requires that applicants either be employed or "have access to an organizational environment" that would let you apply concepts learned in class. Every online degree program is different, so be sure to check what’s required.

Another important thing to keep in mind is the admissions window of a given college or university. Do you want to enroll for the fall semester, or spring? Some schools allow students to apply year-round, while some only accept new students at a certain time of year. In order to get into the online degree program of your choice, it’s necessary to stay informed about the admissions’ office’s application schedule. This information can usually be found on the school’s site or by contacting them.

Finally, follow up. Just as you would follow up a job interview by checking in later with the employer, an application for an online degree program needs to be monitored. Fly-by-night institutions and diploma mills promise acceptance for all who apply, but a legitimate online degree program, like a traditional four-year university, doesn’t necessarily accept everyone. Stay in touch with the admissions office to make sure they’ve received your application and ask what else you need to do. The more attention you show to the details of the process, the more likely you are to be rewarded with an acceptance letter.