3 Things To Look For When Choosing An Online University In The United States Online Colleges


For many potential international students, deciding to attend a US-based online university is the first step on the path to earning an undergraduate or graduate degree. But choosing to pursue an online degree can often lead to questions about what to look for to find the right fit.

“International students should always do their research to make sure that the online degree they are considering will help them achieve their goals,” says Evangeline Cummings, vice-president and director of the University of Florida Online.

Here are three things potential international students should look for at a US-based online university:

  • Accreditation.
  • Acceptance of the degree online at home.
  • Student services and support.

Accreditation. Prospective international students should check school websites to make sure that an online college is accredited, meaning that a school and degree program meets rigorous United States educational standards.

“International students and their parents may not have the benefit of knowing a university’s reputation, so accreditation can assure them of an institution’s commitment to high-quality education,” Cummings said. There are several accrediting agencies, she says, and students should verify that the schools they are seeking are accredited by an agency recognized by the US Department of Education.

For example, the Higher Learning Commission, a regional accreditation agency, examines factors such as course difficulty and whether courses and their faculties reflect the quality of on-campus offerings, says Gerry McCartney, executive vice president of Purdue. Online, which was created by Purdue University in Indiana to coordinate its online offerings.

“We want our online students to have the same world-class education that they would get if they had taken a program at our main campus in the United States,” said McCartney.

Accreditation is also important for other reasons. Stephanie LeVan, director of the Center for Global Education at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina, said accreditation could affect the ability to transfer credits to other U.S. universities and schools around the world.

“For example, if a student has to change schools before graduation and the school attended is not regionally accredited in the United States, it may mean that the credits earned will be forfeited or not be. accepted by an accredited school, ”she says.

Accreditation also has other advantages. McCartney says employers may require applicants to have graduated from an accredited school or program, and accreditation may also be a factor in reimbursement of tuition fees.

Acceptance of the degree online at home. Another aspect for international students to look for is whether the government of their home country accepts online degrees and considers a specific program valid, experts say.

“Although online education is increasing in both acceptance and popularity around the world, not all countries accept online degrees. an investment in education, always do your homework, ”says LeVan.

International students who have received funding or scholarships from the home country government should verify that online courses are permitted, Cummings says. International students receiving grants or scholarships from the United States would likely not have such restrictions, she said.

In addition, many countries have their own criteria for recognizing degrees, according to LeVan, so students should make sure their country of residence recognizes their degree.

“International students should understand that programs designed for American universities are based on American standards and that these standards may not apply in other countries,” says Tricia Berry, associate dean and director of clinical and clinical programs. internship at Purdue Global’s School of Health Sciences.

For example, she says, health information management programs in the United States are based on American standards for medical record management, medical billing, and medical coding.

“Other countries may use very different systems and processes, so the information in this type of degree program might not apply in another country,” Berry said.

Student services and support. It is also important to research an online school’s level of support for international students and online students, such as counseling, tutoring, professional resources, and technical support.

“I always let online students know that they have access to all support services as a traditional student on campus. This includes the writing center, tutoring center, career center, library, etc. Says Marc Embler, associate vice president of business education and dean of the College of Adult and Professional Studies at Charleston Southern University.

Student support can be a success or failure factor, says McCartney, adding “if you are looking for a program online, this is an area you should explore and consider closely.” He says Purdue tries to facilitate technical and academic support through the school’s web portal, email, call center, and chat feature with expert enrollment advisors to help students online.

“Ensuring that students have the opportunity to connect with instructors and advisers is important to the success of international students who may be thousands of miles from our campus,” says Cummings.

Support can also come from connecting with other students online. Cummings says UF Online offers a virtual student hangout where students can receive the latest university news and join student groups based on location, major or specific classes, and area of ​​interest. . She says the students can also start a new group.

“With over 4,000 students, they’re sure to find others with similar interests,” Cummings said.


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