The Internet has brought many changes to higher education in the last ten years. With the gigantic amount of information available at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever to learn about almost anything.

Higher education has caught on to the internet, with many prestigious universities now offering a master’s degree through completely online programs. If you’re looking at a master’s program and comparing the traditional route and online route of learning, here are a few things to consider before making your choice.

Is Online the Way for Me?

Online master’s degrees require a certain amount of self-starting drive to complete. There is little of the hand-holding and careful guidance that may be present in a more traditional program. When considering an online master’s degree, it’s important to understand that you want the best chance to succeed. If you are a person that can be motivated to see yourself through coursework without having to attend a traditional classroom environment or study in a campus library, the online route could benefit you with increased speed of progression or (in some cases) lower tuition costs.

Is the Program Well-Respected?

Most often, when students wonder about earning a degree online, they wonder if the online university is well respected. One quick resource for many of the more popular schools around the country is US News and World Report. Search here for more information on your possible master’s program choices. Don’t be afraid to ask around on different online forums, or anywhere that information can be found on potential colleges. How are they thought of in the education community at large? If they’re not well respected, you might want to consider a different university. There are plenty of things to learn from a school, even if they don’t have a high reputation for their programs, but by-and-large you’ll receive a better education from a more proven, well-respected university. If the choice is between the traditional route or online route for a university with a physical campus, then it’s time to look into the faculty that are teaching the courses.

Which Provides the Best Faculty?

One very important thing to consider when deciding between an online and traditional program is the difference in instructors. It’s not uncommon for online programs to have a different faculty than the traditional education classes. In this case, you’ll want to pay special attention to who these faculty are, and get a feel for both their teaching style and their credibility. If either program has weak instructors, your education will suffer. Search online to learn more about your potential educators before committing to either program.

What is the Cost?

Cost can be a major factor in choosing to work toward a master’s degree online or traditionally. With the price of a college education varying wildly between universities, it’s important to do your research to find the university that will give you the best education for your dollar. The vast majority of master’s degrees cost the same price whether they are online or not. If the price isn’t a factor, then be sure to fall back to the reputation of the university and its faculty.

The ever-changing landscape of higher education requires research to make sure you’re getting the best education for your dollar, regardless of the path you choose to complete the degree. By factoring in the cost, quality of faculty, reputation of the university for providing a high-quality education and your own ability to attend school from home, you’ll be able to determine whether or not the traditional or online route is best for your upcoming master’s degree.