In 2012-2013, more than 1 out of 5 masters degrees was awarded in education. Employees in education with masters degrees earned 44 percent more than employees with bachelors degrees. In 2013, education administrators, preschool and kindergarten teachers, and elementary and middle school teachers benefited most financially from having masters degrees.
The word “free” implies various connotations for everyone. If someone offers us a “free” car… it’s probably a clunker, what else would you expect? If someone offers us a “free” vacation… we’re all in, when do we leave? So, what should you expect if someone offers you the opportunity to earn a free college degree? Some may be skeptical. After all, how good can a free education really be? If you do your homework, you can find reputable schools that offer authentic, enjoyable and superior learning experiences at little or no cash out of your pocket!
The fourth-largest degree-granting institution in North Carolina, East Carolina University offers a total of 22 online bachelor's degree completion programs aimed at transfer students. These include concentrations in several specialized areas of industrial technology, such as bioprocess manufacturing, distribution and logistics, and health information technology. Other options for undergraduates include five business pathways, five teaching tracks, and an RN-to-BSN. Online grad students at ECU can choose from 51 master's degrees and concentrations -- most of which concentrate in education and/or healthcare -- and seven doctorates.
Illinois Online, which is available through the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is one of the best online colleges for adult learners and traditional students alike. One of the reasons the school receives such high marks is because of its Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, which is a one-stop shop for online students to get their questions answered about the distance learning experience. Academically, the school offers dozens of online degree programs, including a bachelor's degree in earth, society, and environmental sustainability and master's degrees in aerospace engineering, translation and interpreting, strategic brand communication, executive human resource development, and food science and human nutrition. There are also certificate programs available on the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students who want to take advantage of Illinois Online without enrolling in a degree program can also choose from dozens of massive open online courses.
Williamson College of the Trades is a young men’s college that offers free tuition to all students. There are certain requirements by which each student must abide, which includes being under the age of 20 prior to admission, completing the designated work hours each semester, engaging in school activities outside of class such as athletics, attending chapel services, and adhering to the dress code and grooming regulations. This free college of the trades is tied to the Judeo-Christian faith and maintains a strong focus on moral conduct and excellence. There are about 265 men enrolled at Williamson who major in Associate in Specialized Technology Degrees and Craftsmen Diplomas. Some examples of programs in the school include horticulture, masonry, carpentry, and machine tool technology. The campus includes numerous shops, labs, and plants, as well as educational centers in which students learn and perfect their trade of choice.
Established 130 years ago in Natchitoches, Northwestern State University of Louisiana has extended its community reach through satellite campuses in Alexandria, Shreveport, and Fort Polk - and through its online programs. Two NSU online graduate programs have been ranked in the top-five degrees in education. The master's in special education is a 36-hour program preparing students to excel in elementary and secondary gifted education and early intervention. Online students can also complete an associate degree, 18 online bachelor degrees, 22 master's degrees, and two doctoral programs (education or nursing practice). NSU also offers six hybrid degrees that combine campus settings with online learning. Technology students can earn an online, competency-based Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems that since 1999 has received citations for "Area of Excellence" by the University of Louisiana system.
This free Christian college offers a full-tuition scholarship to 100 new or transferring students each year that covers up to 17 credit hours per semester. However, the scholarship is not limited to these students, as Central Christian College of the Bible also retains the right to award the free tuition to other students. Each person who receives the scholarship continues to receive free college tuition until they finish their first undergraduate degree. Retaining the award requires that students attend an on-campus degree, keep at least a 2.0 GPA, complete 90% of the Christian Service hours every semester, and attend 80% of the Chapel Services. There is a strong tradition of Christian beliefs at this free college, which operates under values such as prayerful ministry, a heritage of biblical authority, and discipleship. The student enrollment is quite small each year, at around 200, and students only have the most excellent things to say about their alma mater.
Northern Arizona University offers two pathways for distance learners: traditional online or competency-based online programs. Traditional online degrees mirror brick-and-mortar bachelor's programs in terms of course and credit requirements. Traditional online bachelor's options include specialized fields such as hotel and restaurant management, parks and recreation management, and 10 fields related to health professions. The school also makes 21 master's degrees and a doctorate in nursing practice available in the traditional online format.
Liberty University features four online Bachelor of Science programs in education. They include the B.S. in Biblical and Educational Studies, the B.S. degrees in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education, and the B.S. in Special Education: Interdisciplinary Studies. Admission requires a diploma and a minimum 2.0 GPA. Transfer students also need a minimum 2.0 GPA and can transfer in up to 90 credits. These programs combine foundational skills and teaching methods within a Christian ethical context. The Biblical Studies program focuses on training for denominational schools and Christian institutions. The elementary education program can be combined with the Liberty M.A.T. for certification. The early childhood program focuses on pre-school. Online tuition is $390 per credit hour.
The career opportunities available after completing an education certificate will depend on the graduate’s previous education and experience. Many use the certificate to take a state licensing exam, either to become a kindergarten-through-12th-grade teacher or a school principal. Education certificates can also be useful for teachers interested in moving into policy or research roles in local, state, and federal governments. Other programs are used by practicing teachers to deepen their curriculum and cement their role in their current school.
The University of Arizona Online offers multiple bachelor's programs for distance learners. Students pursuing technical careers can choose degrees in STEM fields such as cyber operations, geographic information systems technology, network operations, and meteorology. Options for those seeking a liberal arts education include bachelor's degrees in Africana studies, economy and industry, public health, and sustainable built environments. The university also offers 31 online master's degrees and six online nursing doctorates.
Texas-based Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers many different pathways for students seeking a religious degree. These include online undergraduate programs in fields such as Bible and theology, church ministries, and theological studies. Secular options include online bachelor's degrees in counseling, criminal justice, elementary education, and TESOL. Additionally, the university offers multi-concentration online bachelor's degrees in business administration and human services and 19 online master's and doctoral degrees.
Texas A&M offers 1 undergraduate and 47 graduate degrees and 24 certificates in total. The undergraduate program is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Graduate degrees are offered through all ten of the schools that comprise the university. You can earn your masters degree in fields like Forensic Nursing, Public Service Administration, Analytics, and so much more including ten different areas in education, nine areas in engineering, and even law. Certificates are available in in-demand areas like Homeland Security, Nonprofit Management, Hospitality Management, and STEM Education. Online students at TAMU have full access to their course materials any time as well as the same student services and resources as traditional students.
Liberty University is one of many online colleges that offers flat-rate tuition for all online undergraduates regardless of their state residency status, and some RN-to-BSN students qualify for lower tuition rates. Additionally, police officers, EMS personnel, and other first responders receive a 25% tuition discount. Liberty University receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.