7 Characteristics of a Strong Master's Degree Program

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By DeVry University

October 29, 2021
4 min read

Choosing to pursue a master’s degree is an exciting step as earning your master’s can have the potential to impact both your career and your life. It’s important to do your research and weigh your options carefully before applying, making sure the schools and programs you’re interested in can serve both your personal and professional goals.

A good on campus or online master’s degree program is not one-size-fits-all, as the tools, resources and support you need might be different from someone else. So how do you decide which program will be a good fit? Here are seven characteristics that can help you choose a strong on campus or online graduate program and make the best decision for your future.

1. Up-to-Date Programs and Facilities

Are the schools you’re looking into investing the time and money necessary to keep their programs competitive? Read through their websites for any details about leveraging the latest technology, curriculum updates and any other ways they are keeping their programs up to date with industry trends in the field you’re considering.

Begin your search by looking into the schools and programs you’re interested in online. It may turn out that the school has highlighted this information for you, but if not, be sure to ask pointed questions when you chat with their admissions team.

2. Flexibility

If you’re already balancing responsibilities like a full or part-time job or a family, it’s important to factor that into your decision when looking at graduate degree programs. Depending on your schedule, commitments and goals, you’ll need to decide if an on-campus or distance learning master's program is right for you. See if the schools you’re considering offer various options for study. Doing so can mean more flexibility when it comes to completing your coursework and earning your degree.

Flexibility can also look like a part-time schedule, recorded lectures and the ability to complete coursework at your own pace, so you can learn when you have time. It is a good idea to speak with admissions representatives about each school’s flexibility options when making your choice.

3. Reputation and Accreditation Ranking

Whether you are considering earning your MBA or looking to supplement your education with a graduate certificate, a school's reputation and ranking are factors you may want to assess. Conduct your own online research to compare and contrast what students are saying about various and educational institutions, then, create a list of your favorites and evaluate.

While you’re doing your research, you’ll also want to find out about a university's accreditation. Accreditation can inspire confidence that the program you’re looking at meets a set of quality standards established by an independent academic accrediting body, such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC, www.hlcommission.org)1. The HLC accredits colleges and universities at the institutional level and has been recognized by both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

4. Financial Support

Determining how you’re going to pay for school can help keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Check out what graduate-level scholarship or loan options might be available to you at the schools you’re considering. You may also consider applying for outside scholarships, or scholarships that are independent of an institution, to help pay for school.

5. Experienced University Faculty

One of the most important parts of a good education experience, in the classroom or online, is the faculty and staff. Research some professors at each school you’re considering in order to get an idea of their education level and real-world work experience. Experienced professionals often bring with them a wealth of knowledge to share from years of working hands-on in their field, as well as in the classroom. If your courses are taught by faculty who have had careers similar to what you’re working toward, you may be able to talk with them about how they approached entering their field or collect any additional insight about things they’ve learned along their journey.

6. Hands-on-Learning

Hands-on learning can be a great way to immerse yourself in some of the concepts you are learning in class. Getting hands-on learning experience is possible with some distance learning master's programs and may be something you want to consider when choosing where to enroll. Research or contact schools to see if their curriculum includes hands-on learning elements and if they have integrated it into the programs you’re considering.

7. Placements, Internships or Future Jobs

Whether your goal as a graduate student is continuing your education or redirecting your career, many universities have resources to help students take the first step toward their chosen industry, whether that be through providing information about internships, pairing students up with networking opportunities or providing career guidance.

Finding the Right Online Master's Degree Program For You

Locating the best program to continue your career or start in a new direction is worth taking time to research. At DeVry University, our online master's degree programs  include industry-relevant coursework taught by knowledgeable professionals. You will be able to customize aspects of your journey to suit your academic goals and current lifestyle.

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1DeVry University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), www.hlcommission.org. The University’s Keller Graduate School of Management is included in this accreditation.