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Six Online Degrees That Require an In-Person Component

Oct 4, 2010 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

You can earn an online degree in a wide variety of subjects. For many online degree programs, you can get a Bachelor’s, Masters, or other advanced degree without leaving your home or office. But for others, it’s tough to escape an in-person requirement of some kind.

Some degree programs not only do have an online component—they should. If they don’t, you aren’t learning the skills you need to advance in a career in that field—or meet basic requirements for certifications or licensure. If you do find a degree program from one of these disciplines that claims to be entirely online, be skeptical of its quality.

Nursing Degree Programs

Whether you’re earning an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Masters degree in nursing, your program should have a supervised clinical component. The exact amount of clinical hours you spend will depend on the program—and possibly your state’s licensure requirements. A legitimate online school that
offers a distance-learning nursing degree should be able to help you find a
place near where you live to fulfill clinical requirements.

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When researching online degree programs, know your industry’s professional and legal requirements for certification and licensure in your state—as well as the basic requirements for earning a degree in the field.


Interior Design Programs

You may be able to get through a two-year or four-year interior design degree program online, but you can’t get licensed or work as an interior designer with an online degree alone. Because interior design licensure requires applicants to have hands-on experience as well as education in the field, you’ll need to enter into a one- or two-year apprenticeship period before even sitting for your licensure exam. Apprenticeships can’t be completed online, but your online school may be able to help place you in an apprenticeship program near where you live.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy degree programs should involve a large supervised clinical component. In addition to online classes in topics including biology, anatomy, physiology, cellular histology, exercise physiology, neuroscience, biomechanics, pharmacology, and behavioral science, you may be required to take clinical classes in topics such as medical screening, examination tests, diagnostics, therapeutic interventions, and practice management.

Chemistry and other science programs

If you’re getting a degree in the hard sciences, such as chemistry, biology, or physics, expect an in-person supervised lab component. Working in person at the lab gives you the opportunity to learn basic lab procedures and how to operate common lab equipment, as well as the chance to participate in what could be ground-breaking research while making valuable connections.

Engineering Degree

Most engineering degrees require a hands-on lab component that familiarize students with engineering technologies. Laboratory classes are especially important for students who are interested in careers that rely on practical application and design skills, rather than theoretical concepts. Before entering into a design or production-based job, you’ll need to have some in-person experience, even if it’s just in the classroom.

Teaching Licensure

There are many online programs for teaching certification. However, if they say they can get you licensed entirely online, be skeptical. Teaching licensure requirements do change slightly state by state. However, all states require teachers to have a Bachelor’s degree, to complete an approved teacher training program, and to spend a certain number of hours in supervised teaching practice. The only exception comes from particularly high-needs school districts that may be permitted to let teachers earn licensure on an ongoing basis while they work. In this case, you’ll be earning your license while working in the classroom—also in person—although you can fulfill other licensure requirements online.

Online degree programs can be perfect for working adults. They’re flexible and allow students to schedule class time around work and family commitments. However, not all degree programs can or should be completed entirely online. When researching online degree programs, know your industry’s professional and legal requirements for certification and licensure in your state—as well as the basic requirements for earning a degree in the field. If an in-person component is required or strongly suggested, look for a school that will help place you in a facility near where you live to fulfill it. You can still take many classes online—even if an in-person component is required.



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