Deciding Between Uncredited and Credit Online College Courses Online Colleges


After Tiffany Williams-Rice decided to pursue a career in healthcare administration, she spoke to employers and conducted research online.

Ultimately, she found that a master’s degree would help her settle into a hospital setting. The recent graduate, now 33, enrolled in an online graduate program at Colorado State University — Global Campus.

But when Florida resident Alexandra Faugeras decided to transition from a career in business operations to a career in project management, she figured that an online course without credit would allow her to earn a certificate in the field. domain was sufficient. She already had a bachelor’s and master’s degree in other disciplines and performed certain functions of project manager as part of her work.

“You sometimes find that there are additional things that may be uncredited that help you move forward,” says the 30-year-old, who completed her online program without credit through the Division of Continuing and International Education at the University of Miami.

Many potential online students aim to change careers or get a promotion, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution to making it happen, experts say. This may involve choosing between an online course or program that qualifies for college credits and one that does not.

This distinction is more relevant to some potential online students than to others, experts say. But for those making a choice, here are four factors to consider.

1. Academic and professional objectives: Although career aspirations remain the main reason for pursuing an online degree, according to a 2017 investigation, the specific goals of students vary widely.

“What students need to think about is what is their educational goal? What do they want to do? What do they want to be? Says Kim Scalzo, executive director of Open SUNY at the State University of New York, a collaboration of 64 SUNY campuses offering online programs with and without credit.

For students preparing for a degree, online credit courses that transfer are usually the way to go. But if someone is hoping to improve their performance on the job without changing fields – or, if a full online degree isn’t required to do so – an uncredited training program may be a good choice.

“Careers are changing at a very rapid pace,” says Rebecca Fox, Dean of Continuing and International Education at UM, which offers both types of courses and programs. “Due to a need for certain skills in various fields, it is becoming more and more common for people in employment to want to take uncredited certificates just to give themselves an advantage.”

Lori Swinney, director of the Center for Instructional and Learning Technologies at the University of North Dakota, recommends that prospective online students research the expected outcomes of potential online courses and determine if these match their goals – what it is simply a matter of acquiring a new skill or of receiving credits as well. .

2. Registration possibilities: Sometimes, whether to take an online course with or without credit depends largely on the type and number of courses offered. It varies by establishment.

If a potential online student who doesn’t need another degree wants to take a credit course because it meets their needs, they should research whether the school will allow it, experts say.

For example, at the University of Richmond, which offers online courses with and without credit, non-graduate students can register for up to nine course credits online or on campus, says Jamelle Wilson, Dean of the School of Professional and Continuing Studies

3. Approvals: In areas such as project management, certification is required for certain jobs or may lead to a salary increase. For those who already have the required credentials and need training and to pass an exam to gain or maintain their industry certification, an online no-credit option may be the right decision, experts say, although some online certification options with credit exist.

The University of North Dakota offers a non-credit online course that allows students to gain field experience and then take a certification exam to become food managers and food protection professionals, and another for certification in medical coding and billing.

4. Cost: Prospective online students should compare costs when deciding between credit and non-credit online offerings, experts say.

While prices for uncredited online courses vary widely, Scalzo, from Open SUNY, says they’re generally cheaper – although that changes if there’s certification.

“You might consider more than a few thousand dollars.”


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