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An Industry Checklist to Choose a Quality Online Education

To help organizations and learners in evaluating education providers and choosing quality online degree programs, we recommend using the following checklist.

1. Faculty - Quality programs involve important decision criteria such as capable and accessible faculty. Learners and organizations give preference to campus-based professors that also facilitate and instruct online degree courses. They know there's a significant difference between professional faculty and teachers who moonlight. When choosing an education provider, look for quality that's reflected in qualifications, dedication, vested interest and accountability of faculty.

2. Curriculum - High quality degree programs include much more than accumulation of required courses. Preference is given to rigorous academic courses that are relevant, updated, consistently delivered and capable of enduring the test of time. Here again is an area where there are important differences between what providers can offer. Ask the university under consideration to show you how many resources have been invested in development of curriculum versus promotion of the degree program. Investment in a strong course curriculum prepares students to face the many, and varied, challenges necessary for success in their respective industry and career fields.

3. Full Accreditation - Accrediting bodies sanctioned by US Department of Education exist for a reason. Use them to your advantage. To date there's nothing equivalent in terms of thoroughness to the peer review process built into their accreditations. If you choose a university and online degree program that are fully accredited both regionally and through a program-specific standard such as AACSB is to business, there's confidence to believe you've made the right decision.

4. Education Focus - When it comes to education, there's a fundamental difference between a focus on education and a focus on profit. Running a for-profit education business places value on an entirely different set of constituents and priorities other than students and learning. Meeting the needs of stockholders isnít the same as meeting the needs of students. Rather than building the value of an education, profitability becomes job #1. "Promotion" to for-profit education businesses means marketing instead of the advancement of students. The result being an unhealthy balance and lopsided mix between marketing and development of degree programs. In the online education and degree program market understanding the principle focus of the provider is key to the quality of education you receive.

5. Education Services - Quality degree programs would not be complete without placing value on planning and application of learning. A lack of education planning and inability to define objectives for learners is often cited by "Employers of Choice" as to why both time and money are wasted on education. When learning is successfully applied all organizations and individual students realize benefit. That's why more preference is given to providers that deliver not only quality coursework and instruction, but also offer a continuum of eduction services that include academic advising and career counseling. When looking to partner with quality education providers choose those that can educate within your company's development plan; set learning objectives for the professional; and bridge school and work with applications of education that benefit both you and your employer.

6. Pre and Post Assessment - Assessment is needed because it allows organizational and individual learners to measure the value of their education investment. Assessment also indicates a level of motivation. Motivated students not only learn more; they also show greater gains in application of education and future job performance. That's why degree-program universities who have enrollment and admissions' standards or outcomes-based graduation requirements should be located and given preference when deciding on the right choice of an education provider.

7. Student Throughput - Both quality and quantity of student throughput are reliable indicators of quality online degree programs. Preference of choice is given to providers that offer both quality, as measured by student satisfaction, and the total number of students that have successfully completed a degree program of interest.