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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 1.800.688.0932.

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South University Launches Human Resource Management Master’s Program

by South University
March 17, 2017

Looking to prepare for your next career move? South University is excited to introduce our newest program in the College of Business—a Master of Science in Human Resource Management (MS in HRM), now accepting applications for classes starting in June.

In this master’s degree HRM program, you can study the roles of HR professionals, as well as the concepts, strategies, and structures that impact organizations and their stakeholders. Designed to equip you for roles in HR management across a variety of organizations, the curriculum explores functional areas of HRM (from staffing to performance management), employment and labor laws, business practices, ethical principles, HR metrics and measurement, and change management.

Who Should Earn an MS in HRM

A career in Human Resources Management is ideal for those who are driven by both their heart and head. If you enjoy business strategy and analytical thinking as well as have a passion for mentoring and helping people grow, human resources could be a natural fit. Continuing your education with an MS in HRM program could prepare you to focus in on professional staff development and leadership and take your career to the next level.

What Human Resource Managers Do

Human resources managers hold many responsibilities, serving as an essential link between an organization’s management and employees. For starters, HR managers define, direct, and evaluate company staffing, training, development, retention, and performance management processes and policies. They also play a key role in determining compensation and benefit packages that align with organizational and industry factors. In doing so, they can help companies attract, develop, and retain top talent to maintain a competitive advantage.

HR managers also commonly consult with top executives on strategy planning, relying on ethical principles, general business expertise, and employment and labor laws to guide decision-making around new initiatives. The insight and leadership of HR managers can be especially valuable during times of significant organizational change, such as a company merger or the introduction of a new branch.

Industry Needs for Human Resource Professionals

With demand driven by the rise of new companies and the expansion of existing organizations, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 9% employment growth rate for HR managers, faster than the average for all occupations. As the complexity of laws around occupational safety and health, equal employment opportunity, healthcare, wages, and retirement plans continues to evolve, organizations will also turn to the expertise of HR management. Currently, technical services, manufacturing, government, and healthcare are among the industries employing the most HR managers, and, in 2015, the median annual wage for HR managers was $104,440.

While the BLS anticipates strong competition for many HR management positions, those with a master’s degree in human resources management can expect the best job prospects.

Rounding out South University’s College of Business

South University’s College of Business offers a rich selection of online and campus undergraduate and graduate degree business programs. Built around the College’s core values of ethical practice, student success, and quality education, these programs have been strategically designed to prepare students for the management of people, processes, and systems across diverse public and private companies. The new MS in HRM program aligns naturally with these core values and opens up even more career opportunities for students in the College of Business to pursue upon graduation.

The MS in HRM degree program is available at our Austin and Tampa campus locations. Request more information online today or call us at 1.800.688.0932.

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Easiest Ways to Do Your Taxes for Less

by South University
March 3, 2017

Want to find ways to save time and money during tax season? Here are some quick accounting and tax tips for making it fast, easy and affordable to complete your taxes and make sure you’re not leaving extra money on the table.

1. Shop Around to File Your Taxes Online

Still going to see an accountant in person every year? Don’t be afraid to shop around online and change it up. TurboTax, H&R Block, and TaxAct are just a few of the companies offering online tax filing solutions. Free federal and state online filing options may be available to you depending on your total adjusted gross income, your military status, or your eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit. If you need to go with a more robust, paid version, keep a close eye out for promotions and online discounts that can help bring the cost down.

2. Make Tax-Planning a Year-Round Habit

Keeping organized and complete records of receipts, invoices and other relevant documents can help save time when you are ready to file your taxes. If you haven’t done so in the past, now is the time to start saving those receipts and keeping better track of where your money goes for next year. Did you know that if you’re unemployed and looking for a new job, you may be able to deduct job-hunting expenses? Or, if you move for a job, those costs can be deductible too. In some cases, even your medical expenses can be tax-deductible.

Of course, don’t forget about that student loan interest either, and current students may also qualify for education-related tax credits or deductions. Luckily, the software mentioned above can walk you through claiming many of these credits and deductions as you file. The catch? You’ll need to make sure you have the paper trail to back up your claims.

3. Become a Tax Expert Yourself

This option won’t be right for everyone, but if you find yourself enjoying planning and filing your own taxes, why not consider pursuing a career in accounting? The BLS predicts an 11% job growth for accountants and auditors by 2024—a rate faster than average growth anticipated across occupations. On average, in 2015, accounting professionals had an annual wage of more than $67,000. The best part is you can skip paying someone else to file your taxes and even earn extra income during the tax season by offering your services to others.

At a minimum, accounting and auditing positions typically require a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Other employers prefer applicants with a master’s degree in accounting. To become a Certified Public Accountant, you’ll also need to pass a CPA exam as well as meet your state requirements. If you’re serious about preparing for a career in accounting, South University can help. Call 1.800.688.0932 or request information today to learn more about our online and campus-based Business Administration and Accounting programs—including a new, online BS to MS in Accounting dual-degree program.

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A Passion for Teaching and Preaching: Meet Doctor of Ministry Program Director, Paul McCuistion

by South University
February 9, 2017

“I’ve been preaching all of my life,” says Doctor of Ministry Program Director at South University, Tampa Campus and Orlando Learning Site Dr. Paul McCuistion. “When I was three or four, I’d have my stuffed animals lined up on the bed and I’d be preaching to them.”

Although he’s been a professor now for over eight years (and loving every minute of it), Dr. McCuistion has spent much of his professional life working full- or part-time in the pulpit. He actively practiced ministry for 20 years, some full time; some bi-vocational. “There aren’t many careers that you could name that I haven’t somehow come in contact with,” he says. “I did construction, insurance, title work, a little bit of everything, and enjoying life.” Some were to support ministry and others to support my family while I did graduate work.

At 52, he decided he wanted even more. “I walked into the house one day and told my lovely wife, ‘I think I'll go back to school,’” he recalls. That announcement, that decision, turned into an 11-year quest resulting in two master’s degrees and a PhD. First, he earned a Master of Arts in the New Testament from Johnson University and a Master of Arts in Theology from Saint Leo University—where he also began serving as an Adjunct Professor.

For Dr. McCuistion, teaching feels right. He loves to do it and has for a long time. In fact, he remembers attending his first Bible camp at age nine and then returning the following Sunday to share a full report of what he learned in front of the church congregation.

“I always knew that I could teach; it’s just a gift,” he says. “When God sets his sights on something, there’s no guesswork about it. You know the call and you know that you’re responsible for it.”

Soon after his master’s, Dr. McCuistion earned a Doctor of Philosophy in the New Testament from the North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa. He then taught at two other institutions before joining the Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program at South University in 2016.

“Coming to South University has been the highlight of my academic career,” he says. “Not only am I getting to work with world-class scholars, but this program is the first I’ve seen that’s truly connecting the study of theology with the application of theology in church ministry.”

The practicality of South University’s DMin program aligns well with what Dr. McCuistion is doing in his own personal ministry, Teaching4Jesus Ministries. Through Teaching4Jesus, Dr. McCuistion leads a seminar that helps churches to sharpen their focus on Jesus. Working with his brother, David whose background is in organizational leadership, Dr. McCuistion also guides church leaders in developing and refining their mission, vision, goals, and strategy—ensuring that these all tie back to that underlying theological focus. Their vision for T4J is Empowering Christians for service that builds up of the body of Christ.

The DMin program at South University has been a great fit for Dr. McCuistion, who sees extreme value in the way the program teaches students not only the underlying theology of ministry, but also gives them practical tools and strategies for connecting it to their ministry practice.

“First, we lay the foundation and then we move into ministry skills—leadership and management, discipleship, communication skills, conflict mediation. Then there are practicum courses and advanced ministry skills. The program moves from theology to application of theology,” he explains. “I think it’s tremendous.”

Join Dr. McCuistion for a Workshop that can Support Your Ministry

This February, Dr. McCuistion and South University are offering a workshop for pastors in the Tampa and Orlando areas. The workshop, titled “Forging the Sword of the Spirit: Historical Survey of the Development of the New Testament Text,” will review the history of the written Bible and is designed to help ministry practitioners answer a question that many of today’s churchgoers are asking: “Can I trust the Bible to be God’s Word for today?”

All ministry professionals are invited to attend this workshop at South University, Tampa Campus on February 28th from 6 to 8pm and at our Orlando Learning Center on March 7th from 6 to 8pm. The event will include a Meet and Greet, a Presentation from Dr. McCuistion and a 30 minute Q&A session. If you can’t make it, follow South University on Facebook for news and other upcoming events. To learn more about the DMin program, request information online or at 1.800.688.0932 anytime.

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5 Healthcare Degrees and Career Paths Outside Nursing

by Jared Newnam
January 24, 2017

A career in healthcare isn’t only for nurses or doctors. With the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS) expecting the creation of 2.3 million healthcare jobs between 2014 and 2024, you have many options for pursuing a career in healthcare. If you’re drawn to helping others and bettering your community but practicing medicine isn’t for you, below are five healthcare degrees that can prepare you for other rewarding healthcare jobs.

1. Public Health Degree

With a public health degree you can prepare for a career where you work to improve health across local, national, and global communities and to make a large-scale impact on the world.

Public health career options are diverse, with opportunities to conduct disease research, influence legislative and social policy, solve health-related problems, and develop and lead programs that promote healthy lifestyles and teach disease prevention. Job growth and salaries in the field likewise vary, according to the BLS. For example, job growth for epidemiologists (who research diseases) is projected at 6%, about as fast as the average for all occupations, whereas health educators and community health workers can expect higher job growth at 13%. In 2015, epidemiologists saw a median annual wage of $69,450, with health educators at $51,960 and community health workers at $36,300.

While a Bachelor of Science in Public Health can help you to get started in this field, some public health occupations require a Master of Public Health degree.

2. Healthcare Management Degree

Healthcare managers plan, direct, and coordinate healthcare services, with leadership and administrative duties that are critical to the health of institutions and individuals. To prepare you for this responsibility, healthcare management degree programs teach both industry-specific knowledge and foundational management competencies involving critical thinking, analysis, and decision-making.

According to the BLS, medical and health services management is a growing and financially rewarding field, with an above average job growth of 17% and a 2015 median annual wage of $94,500. While a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management can equip you for many positions, the BLS notes that some employers prefer individuals who also have master’s degrees.

3. Psychology Degree

Fascinated by what makes people tick? Earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology is the first step toward a career in psychology, or the scientific study of what drives human behavior. A bachelor’s psychology degree can prepare for you for entry-level positions in psychology—like counselor aide, therapeutic assistant, career advisor, or caseworker—or for continuing on to graduate school. Other jobs, such as psychologist or clinical counselor, require advance studies beyond an undergraduate psychology degree.

While a psychology degree can lead to many careers, the BLS predicts a 19% job growth for psychologists and reported a 2015 median annual salary of $72,580 for this position.

4. Physical Therapist Assistant Degree

A physical therapist assistant career allows you to work one-on-one with patients under a physical therapist’s supervision. In this role, you would support and train patients with therapy exercises and activities, treat patients using special equipment and procedures, and report on patient progress as you help guide them back to health.

Beyond enjoying a fulfilling career, physical therapist assistants can expect to be in demand, with the BLS projecting an impressive 41% employment growth. In terms of median annual salary, physical therapists assistants brought in $55,170 in 2015. To pursue this career, you’ll need to complete an Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant degree program and fulfill state licensing requirements.

5. Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree

While physical therapy assistants typically focus on patients recovering from injuries, occupational therapy assistants specialize in helping patients build and recover skills required for daily life. Work under the guidance of an occupational therapist, occupational therapy assistants may:

  • Help children with developmental disabilities become more independent
  • Assist older adults with physical and cognitive changes
  • Teach patients how to use special equipment
  • Perform patient evaluations and support ongoing patient care

The BLS also anticipates promising growth for occupational therapy assistant careers with a 43% rise in employment. In 2015, occupational therapy assistants also reported a median salary of $57,870. If you’re interested in this rapidly growing career path, earning an Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree should be your first step, followed by pursuing any state licensing requirements.

Explore Your Options for Healthcare Programs at South University

With an academic tradition of excellence that’s lasted over 100 years, South University has helped to prepare thousands of students for success in the healthcare field. Here, you’ll discover over 25 campus-based and online programs that can equip you for a career in healthcare. To learn about the healthcare degrees offered in South University’s College of Health Professions, College of Nursing and Public Health, and even our College of Business (with graduate and undergraduate healthcare management degree programs), call us at 1.800.688.0932 or request information today.

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