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How to pick a degree program: Get started with these 5 questions

by South University
March 23, 2017

Deciding to earn a degree is a big decision. Especially if you’re earning your first undergraduate degree or you’ve been away from school for a while, choosing the right a degree program can get complicated quickly. Even knowing where to start can be tough. To help, we’re walking you through some of the biggest factors to consider—from how to find a degree program that aligns with your strengths and interests, to researching career growth potential and industry needs.

1. What are your strengths?

If you feel lost, start with what you’re good at. Make your own list, and then ask a few of the people who know you best what you’ve missed. Consider which traits your bosses and colleagues have praised and dig up your most recent job evaluation. Or think about when you’re asked for help. Maybe your manager keeps asking you to plan office lunches or outings. If so, perhaps you have a natural talent for organizational leadership and you should search for a Bachelor of Business Administration or other similar business degrees. Maybe your friends always want your insight on family and relationship problems because you have a knack for listening and providing guidance that could translate to a psychology or counseling career. For that, you’d want to start with earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Discovering your strengths and how they translate to appropriate careers can help narrow down programs that you can excel in.

2. What fields most interest you?

Don’t be afraid to look outside your current strengths. They’re an excellent place to start, but the whole point of going to school is to learn new skills, so it’s perfectly okay to try something you’ve never done. If you enjoy helping people and caring for others, it’s fine that you’ve never worked in a healthcare setting. Healthcare degrees are built to prepare you with the skills and knowledge needed for the field. Perhaps you enjoy working with numbers or computers – a degree in Accounting or Information Technology may be right up your alley.

3. Which careers have the best job outlook?

Once you’ve picked a few possible career fields based on your strengths and interests, find out which careers have a strong job outlook. The Occupational Outlook Handbook from US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a great place to start. You can easily find data on employment growth, salary, job responsibilities, and more for hundreds of occupations. You can also work in reverse and identify careers that have the best outlook in your area and see which seem interesting to you and align with what you are already good at doing.

4. What level degree program is the right fit?

This question has two parts. First, what are the best degrees for preparing for the career you’re considering? Some jobs require bachelor’s degrees, others prefer or require master’s degrees, and, in some cases, you can get started right away with an associate’s degree. Again, the BLS is a trusted source for this information. The second thing to consider is how long you are willing to spend in school. While some schools may offer accelerated or dual bachelor’s to master’s programs, anyone who knows they don’t want to devote the time required for bachelor’s or master’s degrees can easily cross certain careers off their list.

5. What is the right format for earning your degree?

You may be able to adjust your schedule some when you go back to school, but realistically you’ll still need to balance multiple priorities. As you narrow down your list of the best degrees for you and your top colleges offering those programs, find out what type of flexibility those schools offer and what learning format might work best for you. A typically campus experience may be right for you with many schools offer evening and weekend courses to appeal to working adults. Depending on the nature of the degree program, you may be able to earn your degree fully online or in a hybrid campus and online format. Base your choice on your schedule and learning preferences, but keep an open mind. While online learning can sound intimidating, the web-based classrooms for online degrees are typically built to facilitate and encourage high-levels of faculty and student interaction, support, and discussion.

Your Next Move: Contact Your Top Colleges and Programs

Before finalizing your choice, reach out to representatives at your top colleges. You’ll learn a lot by inquiring about their program outcomes, faculty, and alumni. If you’re interested in online learning, ask what it’s like to pursue one of their online degrees. To learn about any of South University’s associates, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees, you can request information anytime on our site or call us 1.888.444.3404.

by South University
March 23, 2017
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What to Know if You're Considering Studying Criminal Justice

by Jared Newnam
November 16, 2016

Keeping our communities and our country safe is a key focus of everyone in criminal justice. Of course, what that looks like in practice depends on the career you pursue and whether it’s in law enforcement, correction, politics, or law. Across the board, however, a few things hold true for those exploring a bachelor’s or master’s degree in criminal justice.

Education and Experience Can Help You Stand Out

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), numerous careers in criminal justice may see 4% job growth in the coming years. This includes, Detectives and Criminal Investigators and Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists. Others, like Private Detectives and Investigators, Bailiffs, and Police Patrol Officers, will experience an average growth rate around 5% to 8%.

As with any job and depending on location, applicants may face competition for desirable positions. (Median annual salary for criminal justice roles mentioned above ranges from $41,000 to over $77,000.) The BLS especially anticipates strong competition for Private Detective and Investigator roles.

In competitive job situations, a candidate with a criminal justice degree and work experience may be most likely to catch the eye of a potential employer. For example, for Police and Detective positions, the BLS says that “applicants with a bachelor's degree and law enforcement or military experience, especially investigative experience, as well as those who speak more than one language, should have the best job opportunities.” For Probation Officer and Corrections positions, as well as employment within federal agencies, a bachelor’s degree is often required.

Technology is Increasingly Important across Professions

If you’ve been researching or studying criminal justice online, you likely know that technology has a drastic impact on the field.

On one side, there’s an array of valuable technologies. These take many forms, including connected database systems, automated license plate readers, and handheld biometric scanners used to identify suspects. In some locations, criminal justice workers currently carry tablets and smartphones that make it easier to access and distribute information. Such tools will only improve in the years to come.

Criminal justice professions under increasing scrutiny are also turning to technology like social media to build trust and demonstrate transparency in their communities. Although privacy concerns are still being debated, GPS systems and body cameras are also being introduced to support both safety and accountability in criminal justice professions.

Meanwhile, others apply technology for harm, with the The Department of Justice describing cyber crime as "one of the greatest threats facing our country" and Business Insider reporting that “the frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks are at an all-time high.” When it comes to jobs, cyber crime is driving employment trends, with the BLS noting that “Internet scams, as well as other types of financial and insurance fraud, create demand for investigative services.” Such crimes are expected to continue at local, national and even global levels.

What to Look for in Criminal Justice Programs

While we’ve already noted that a criminal justice degree can help when applying for jobs, it’s also essential that students select the right program.

Your criminal justice degree program level (bachelor’s, master’s, etc.) will determine program length and curriculum, but all criminal justice degrees should share some foundational elements. First, anyone considering criminal justice courses or comparing criminal justice curriculums should look for programs that explore the importance of technology in this field. Equally valuable are criminal justice courses that address ethics and topics related to race, class, and gender. Finally, soft skills like leadership, problem-solving, communication, and conflict resolution should also be taught throughout a criminal justice curriculum.

Whether you prefer studying criminal justice online or on-campus, South University offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice that can prepare you for working in today’s changing field. Explore our criminal justice programs online or contact us today to learn more.

by Jared Newnam
November 16, 2016
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5 Ways Getting an MBA Online Can Benefit You

by South University
September 11, 2013

If you'd like to move up in your business career, take the next step and earn your Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. From building your knowledge base to enhancing your management and leadership skills, getting an MBA can have many benefits, and at South University, our online MBA program is designed specifically for working professionals.

Moving up in your career

1. Job Security

When you get your MBA, you can feel more secure in your career and your competencies. By increasing your training, skill set and knowledge base, you increase your value to your current or future employer. With an MBA, you'll have greater mobility in your field and employers may be more apt to value your opinion, provide you with increasing responsibility and ensure that you stay within their organization.

2. Income Growth

This one goes hand-in-hand with our discussion above. When you increase your value to a company, that increase in value frequently coincides with a bump-up in salary. Employers will want to provide you with a reason to stay, right? Promotions or salary increases are two of the ways they may entice you to do so. While this may not always be the case, it is common in the overall job market. With an MBA, the doors to higher paid positions are more likely to be open to you, and you can reasonably expect to garner increased earning potential on the job market.

3. Applicable Skills

The competencies gained from obtaining an MBA are valuable in almost every industry. Business is embedded in all careers from healthcare to finance, and you can apply your valuable knowledge about how to conduct, maintain and drive a business to any passion or idea that inspires an organization. The beauty of an MBA lies in this--ensuring that no matter what your chosen industry, the knowledge gained from an MBA will benefit you and your career potential.

4. Networking

Engaging with your fellow students and instructors in your MBA program will allow you to grow your professional network. In an MBA program you'll find yourself surrounded by equally motivated, like-minded individuals who could prove to be valuable contacts as you further your career. Peer relationships now may lead to business relationships in the future. Additionally, faculty members have been in and around your industries of interest and are able to offer both guidance and professional contacts in their own right. 

5. Flexibility

Earning your MBA online gives you the freedom and flexibility to attend classes any time of the day or night. Now, earning your degree can fit into your busy personal and professional life, while still providing you with access to knowledgeable faculty, supportive staff and an active community of peers. 

book iconLearn about the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program or the MBA in Healthcare Administration program at South University today!

Related Links:
- Learn more about the relationship between education, employment and earnings in 2012. 
 - See employment projections for 2020 and how they relate to education.

 

by South University
September 11, 2013
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South University Introduces the Bachelor of Science in Public Relations

by South University
February 27, 2013

South University is proud to introduce their newest program--the Bachelor of Science in Public Relations, bringing the total degree offering for South University’s online College of Business to twelve programs: three Associate’s, four Bachelor’s and five Master’s degree programs.

The Public Relations curriculum includes Fundamentals of Persuasion, Ethics in Mass Communication, International Public Relations and other courses designed to prepare students for a successful career in the growing and fast-paced field of Public Relations. This program is ideal for students interested in the media and mass communication as well as in assisting clients to build and maintain positive relationships with the public. Current students may not be eligible to participate in this program.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in public relations, please contact your Admissions Representative to learn more.

by South University
February 27, 2013
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Exploring Your Options with South University

by Admin
December 10, 2012

Choosing a school where you will earn your degree online is one of the most important decisions you will make during your educational career. Much like choosing the right program, the right school can help pave the way for both your educational and professional success once you have graduated.

South University offers 22 online degree programs in Business, Criminal Justice, Nursing and Healthcare, Information Technology, Legal & Paralegal, and Psychology. Programs are available at the Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s degree levels.

Not only does South University have many different programs to choose from, it has also been going strong since 1899, with the first online program introduced in 2004. To learn more about what South University has to offer, contact an Admissions Representative today.

by Admin
December 10, 2012
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