For many prospective international students, deciding to attend a U.S.-based online university is the first step in the path toward completing an undergraduate or graduate degree. But choosing to pursue an online degree can often lead to questions about how to find the right fit.
“International students should always do their research to make sure the online degree they are considering will help them achieve their goals,” says Evangeline Cummings, assistant provost, and director at the University of Florida Online.
Here are six areas prospective international students should research about a U.S.-based online university:
An online institution’s reputation is an important factor to consider, experts say. Students can start by familiarizing themselves with the top universities, expert says, and exploring their programs and whether online pathways are available for international applicants.
Prospective international students should check school websites to ensure an online college is accredited, which means that a school and degree program has been examined by a recognized authority and meet rigorous U.S. educational standards.
Accreditation is important for other reasons as well. Additionally, employers may require applicants to have received a degree from an accredited school or program, and accreditation can be a factor in corporate tuition reimbursement.
The price tag of an online university should be considered, including how the cost compares to attending a brick-and-mortar school. Most schools readily provide their tuition costs, including online tuition, on their websites.
Acceptance of Online Degree at Home
International students should also research whether their home-country government accepts online degrees and considers a specific program valid, experts say. International students who have received home-country government funding or scholarships should check to make sure that online coursework is allowed. International students receiving grants or scholarships from the U.S. would likely not have such restrictions.
Employment is another important factor when considering attending a degree program at an online university. The expert also recommends researching the reach of a university’s alumni and using tools like LinkedIn to see how a program’s graduates in your field of interest have fared in jobs.
Student Services and Support
It’s also important to research an online school’s level of support for international students and online students, such as counseling, tutoring, career resources, and tech support.
Many online schools like Arizona State University and Pennsylvania State University—World Campus, which offers Penn State degrees entirely online, have web pages devoted to international students with links to their support services.