Online Masters Degrees Expand Opportunities for Political Activists
The online educational world is thriving. Adult students of all ages can find casual, non-accredited home studies courses and entire degreed programs in lucrative subjects online - full bachelors, masters, and phD accredited curricula. Some schools are even experimenting with new courses stemming from the protests of environmental and political activists, and are using the online medium to test their popularity and value. Some of the courses cost money and some are free.
The new courses of study are being triggered by a need for new expertise in the field, like the knowledge of how to reverse damages humans have imposed upon the earth. Extreme weather events and climate change crises worldwide, for example, have illuminated the need for awareness about what human construction and mining of the earth's resources has been doing to the environment.
As great as the need is, there are not nearly enough knowledgeable government policy makers, writers, corporate advisors, lawyers, or engineers in the environmental field. Newly created jobs need to be filled, and existing jobs are becoming available from "baby boomers" who want to retire and are looking for replacements who know what they're doing.
This need has triggered the creation of a number of courses and degrees related to or including environmental science. Students and political activists looking to switch fields might think seriously about the benefits of online studies, such as those that follow.
We desperately need to find a new way of living that does not destroy the life forces we depend upon. Many universities have heeded the call for new expertise and are offering relevant degrees online.
Environmental Science Jobs
Here are some of the growing categories of occupations that call for environmental science degrees, followed by the median annual salary offered in the USA in 2009 and projected job growth for 2008-2018 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics):
Atmospheric and space scientists: $84,710; 15% projected growth.
Biochemists and biophysicists: $82,390; 37% growth.
Conservation scientists: $60,160; 12% growth.
Environmental scientists and specialists: $61,010; 28% growth.
Foresters: $53,840; 12% growth.
Geoscientist: $81,220; 18% growth.
Hydrologist: $73,670; 18% growth.
History of Online Education
Online education started out in the 1960s, before the advent of home computers, with networked computer terminals at colleges. As the Internet developed and home computers became available, educators started offering non-accredited, experimental training courses online. The opportunities expanded from there. Online learning now includes entire bachelors, masters, and PhD degree programs offered by leading universities worldwide.
Popularity of Online Training
Have you ever taken a course online?
Although they may have started out utilizing the Internet for supplemental purposes, most universities are now fully supportive of online learning. Many are also using it as an experimental venue for new courses not yet offered at the university itself, which helps them lower the cost of introduction. And there exist accredited universities that are only online.
Masters Degree Programs
In addition to environmental studies, the workforce is calling for new expertise in engineering, foreign policy, and construction design. Here are samples of comparatively recent masters degree programs, offered online, that may or may not be offered on the ground as well.
Environmental Studies: Our biggest need right now is to understand what we did to the environment and how we can save ourselves from self-annihilation:
Environmental Public Health - Studies of cancer-causing agents present in the environment, how our treatment of the environment has affected public health, and what needs to change.
Sustainable Community Management - The design, construction, and management of sustainable communities. How do communities in developed countries compare with those in less developed countries who are not overusing their resources? What can we learn from each other?
Natural Resources & Environmental Science/Sustainable Futures - Identification, planning, and use of natural resources that promotes healthy renewal, including management and restoration of preserved spaces.
- Will students fork over $60K for UC Berkeley's new online master's degree in data science?
The University of California at Berkeley is the latest institution to offer a masters degree in data science but, along with education technology company 2U, it will offer the entire program online.
Engineering - This is a hugely expanding field online:
Data Management - How to collect, organize, and decipher the reams of data made available by online communications. Needed by governments, intelligence agencies, multinational corporations, and news agencies worldwide.
Systems Engineering - How to design, set up, network, and maintain interconnected computer and computerized mechanical systems for all sizes and natures of use.
Computing in Education - Utilizing computers in educational settings - including the unique problems associated with online testing, grading, and records privacy.
Plastics Technology - The discovery, design, testing, and introduction of new plastics. Includes testing toxicity of fossil fuels-based plastics, as well as bioplastics and other, more desirable replacements.
BioMedical Engineering - Experimentation and discovery of new diseases and cures. Includes nano-technology and genetic modification.
Foreign Policy & War - Prompted mainly by the Western scare of terrorism, there are new courses offered to supply governments and their affiliates with expertise in the following areas:
Conflict, Development, & Security (UK) - Definition and history of world conflict. What constitutes "security" and how can it be established without infringing on country autonomy?
Homeland Security (USA) - Development of systems for citizen protection, information gathering and processing, moral and legal issues, and control.
There are also programs available through the United Nations on disarmament and international affairs (sidebar). Note that any war torn society has serious ecological issues as well, since bombing completely destroys the environment.
Construction Design - The more stringent building codes, increased expectations, and more efficient equipment, fixtures, and construction materials available have triggered an accompanying need for better trained construction managers and related professionals. Here are three masters degrees that answer that call.
International Construction Management - This major deals with the human and business side of construction of factories, government buildings and homes overseas. It includes the movements of construction materials between countries, and related international laws.
Technology/Construction Management - A subdivision of the technology department, this masters program focuses on managing construction projects that utilize the latest in software and product technology.
Construction Law & Dispute Resolution - Legalities of construction, including qualification for LEED status, acquiring and defending rights of way, adherence to local building and safety codes, materials acquisition, disposition of toxins, contracts, payments, and more.
Cost of Online Masters Degrees
Because online education is such a new and growing technology, it has no standard pricing structure. Costs range from $10,000 to $115,000, according to geteducated.com. Prospective students need to weigh costs vs. convenience very carefully before committing to a course of study.
- Most Affordable Online Master's Degree Programs in 2016
This article is one of a four-part series that focuses on affordable online education, specifically online colleges and various degree programs.
Nearly half of the top universities are taking advantage of the popularity and convenience of online training by charging higher tuition than they do for offline courses. Others charge fees less obvious, like enrollment or processing fees, fees for technology required, books and materials fees, and testing fees. These can all add up to be as costly or more than attending a university in person.
However, not all online courses charge tuition. Some are free. Students can also lower their costs for regular university degrees by:
- Taking online transfer courses from universities that offer them free (like Berkeley or Stanford).
- Persuading your employer to reimburse them for training related to work.
- Acquiring credit for existing experience.
- And there are some services students will need for accreditation that won't be needed if they just want to study a course.
So far it's been harder to get loans for online training than it has for real-time education. Scholarships are fewer and banks are hesitant to loan money for non-standard schooling. There are federal educational loans available, however, as of 2006. This makes it critical to plan finances carefully before committing to obtaining an online degree.
Credit for Experience
Online programs grant credit for experience and past training by having you take an online test and submit a portfolio for evaluation.
Tests generally cost $95-400 each. This is a good option for people who have a lot of experience or who are self-starters - who have had the interest and discipline to learn new things on their own already.
For a portfolio evaluation, online schools can charge up to $1300. This includes instructions on how to properly prepare a portfolio of this type, as well as the evaluation of its contents. Excelsior College online offers up to 12 experiential credits toward the degree of successful students.
For some people, obtaining a masters degree online can really work, especially if they have young children at home or have demanding, full time jobs. For others, it may be cheaper and/or more rewarding to study in a real classroom. It's up to the individual to figure out which. Check out the links below for more information.
For Further Information:
- Online Master's Degree in Environmental Science
An online master's degree in environmental science or energy resource management allows you to work indoors or out, full-time or part-time, while you earn your graduate degree. Build on an existing career in environmental science, or start one now.
- US Dept. of Education Accreditation Database
Official database showing accredited post-secondary educational institutions in the United States.