Comparing Concurrent and Non-Concurrent Programs in Online Education

October 13th, 2015 by

Female College Student OnlinePerhaps the number one reason students choose to earn their degrees online rather than on a traditional college campus is because online education brings with it a greater amount of flexibility. Whether you already hold down a full or part-time job, you have a family to care for or you just have other obligations that prevent you from commuting to campus each day, online learning allows you to fit in education wherever and whenever you can.

When choosing a degree, there are two major options you will need to decide between: a concurrent degree and a non-concurrent degree. Learn more about their similarities and differences before choosing the one that best meets your needs as a student.

About Concurrent Online Degrees

A concurrent online degree is one that runs in sync with a traditional college schedule. For colleges and universities that offer students the option of traditional classes and online classes, they may even be at the same time or at least the same day. Exams will be held at specific times, and students must watch lectures, complete assignments and take exams at exact dates and times. There are certainly both pros and cons to this kind of degree program.

If you live in a rural area but want to closely match the traditional college schedule, you will likely have semester-long classes that free up your winter holidays and a long summer vacation. However, if you have an unpredictable schedule and you need to work late nights or you have a busy season for certain months of the year, juggling the exact schedule of a concurrent online degree might be problematic for you.

About Non-Concurrent Online Degrees

A non-concurrent online degree is one that has a loose structure, giving students greater flexibility with the curriculum due dates and with taking exams. Most non-concurrent degrees have a specific curriculum and assignments along the way, and students must work through the curriculum in chronological order.

However, they can work through the reading, lectures and assignments at their own pace. Some students might breeze through certain sections and then take their time on others, or they might opt to take a break to handle a family emergency or to enjoy a vacation with friends.

Choosing the Best Degree Type for Your Lifestyle

Ultimately, the best type of online degree will depend on your lifestyle and how quickly you want to finish the program. If your goal is to work as quickly, take few breaks and graduate as soon as possible, then a non-concurrent degree can help you achieve your goals. A non-concurrent degree is also great for full-time employees with unpredictable schedules, like nurses.

If you want to be held accountable for each assignment and you need the group mentality to help you along throughout the degree, then a concurrent program could be suitable. This also has a guaranteed end date, which might help you stay motivated over time.

Both concurrent and non-concurrent online degrees can help you earn the right qualifications for a new career, and each offers unique traits that appeal to different types of online students.


About the Author:

Sandy Davis

Sandy Davis is a long-time educator who holds a Master’s Degree in Education, having taught English, writing, and communication on the secondary and college levels. With ten years of experience in blogging, social media and content management, she is a freelance writer and content marketing specialist for a diverse range of clients.

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